After Bowie slugger Luis Jimenez mashed multiple-run home runs in each of the first three games of the series against Bowie this week - compiling 10 RBI along the way - Aeros pitchers continued to pitch to the Baysox first baseman Thursday.
Furthermore, they continued to do so with manager Tim Bogar's blessing - with the playoffs on the line in needing a win to clinch a wildcard playoff spot.
"To me, Jimenez is a great hitter but he's pitchable,'' Bogar said. "But if you pitch him right, he's pitchable. I mean, there's a reason why he's still in Double-A. The man can hit. I like how he swings the bat and he gives you a quality at-bat every time. But I think our pitchers, when they do what they're supposed to do, can get him out.''
Well guess what? They didn't the first three nights of this important series home stand and they didn't again in Jimenez's at-bats in the fifth and seventh innings Thursday.
After hitting a three-run home run against Aeros starter Eric DuBose in the series opener Monday, Jimenez smacked another three-run bomb against reliever Michael Finocchi Tuesday. He settled for a two-run homer against starter Bobby Brownlie Wednesday and continued to beat up Akron pitchers when he doubled home two runs to give the Baysox a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning Thursday against starter Shawn Nottingham.
The 6-foot-4 205-pounder from Venezuela managed to leg out a single against reliever Rich Rundles in the seventh, who was the unsung hero of the night for the Aeros in earning the win.
But give the Aeros pitchers some credit. When the game was on the line with two on and two out in the ninth, closer Jim Ed Warden got Jimenez to ground out to short to end the game and vault the Aeros into the playoffs.
Asked what he was thinking when Jimenez strode to the plate in the final at-bat, Bogar admitted: "My first thought was 'get him out.' Then I thought, 'Please don't make a a mistake and let's get this guy out for once!' ''
Warden did just that, his fastball down and away bouncing into the glove of waiting shortstop Brandon Pinckney, who fired to Michael Aubrey at first base for the huge out.
Moments later, the Aeros lockeroom reeked of cheap champagne, as the players celebrated by soaking each other - and Bogar - from head to toe with glee.
Across the hall, Jimenez and his teammates quietly got dressed and then headed outside to the team bus for what promised to be a long seven hour ride home, their season over save for four meaningless games at home against Connecticut.