New Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez has been around professional baseball long enough to know a thing or two about the game.
So when the former major-league player, scout and manager and recent skipper of Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic politely preaches patience, it’s best to listen.
The young kids would hit as the weather warmed up, Perez said. And they would soon settle down in the field, too. Just be patient, he suggested.
Aeros fans only had to wait three games before they finally got a glimpse of the offensive potential of this year’s team. Sunday, the host Aeros pounded out 15 hits in a 13-3 rout of Binghamton, avoiding a season-opening series sweep by the Mets and snapping a 0-3 skid to start.
“It’s a good thing we got the win,” Rodriguez joked afterward, “we were running out of jerseys.”
Like any good superstitious athlete would do, the Aeros players kept switching jersey colors and tops/bottoms combinations during the first four-game series against the Mets in an effort to find a winning combination.
The popular black tops and white pants proved to be a winner Sunday, meaning fans will likely see that look more moving forward as the Aeros continue this homestand tonight as they start a three-game series against Altoona.
On the sun-splashed 71 degree Sunday afternoon at Canal Park, the Aeros bats finally thawed out in the sixth inning from the deep freeze they’d been in the previous three games.
“More than just the weather, [the Aeros hitters] were able to make adjustments,” Rodriguez said. “They’re good hitters, but a majority of them are young and were rushing and trying to do too much. Once they settled down in the second half of the game, we were better.
“We kept telling them, keep battling and settle down and it will come – and it did. With a field like this where the ball doesn’t carry out too much, you just have to put the ball in play, don’t try to do too much, take the extra base. Just patiently build momentum.”
Mets starter Tyler Pill (the younger brother of San Francisco Giants first baseman Brett Pill) had limited the Aeros to a fourth-inning run aided by an error through the first five innings. But come the sixth inning, the Aeros offense battered him for four runs on six hits, halting the mastery of the New York Mets’ 25th-ranked prospect according to Baseball America.
That was only the beginning of the hit parade, as the Aeros touched the B-Mets pitching staff for five more runs in the seventh inning and three more in the eighth. Five Binghamton errors didn’t help the visitor’s cause.
Only one Aeros starter finished the game without a hit, five collecting multiple hits. First baseman Jesus Aguilar led the way with three hits and five RBI and two runs scored, followed by shortstop Jose Ramirez, who had three hits and scored four runs.
“It was important to get the win because we were playing bad the first couple games,” said Aguilar, the team’s best power prospect whose maturity to use the whole field impressed his manager and hitting coach.
“We just have to keep doing what we did today. In a meeting today before the game, we talked about being aggressive in the strike zone because they’re trying to be aggressive with us. That’s going to be the key for us, because we can hit the ball really good.”
In addition to the black jerseys, the Aeros did their best to halt the losing streak in handing the ball to right-handed pitcher Paolo Espino, the guy to turn to whenever a win is necessary.
Last year in Game 1 of the Eastern League finals, it was Espino who held Trenton to two hits over seven scoreless innings to record the Aeros’ first win en route to their fourth league title.
This season, the Aeros were again in desperate need of a win, being off to their first 0-3 start since 1997 — the first year they played in Canal Park. But once it was obvious that the seven-year pro that entered the game with 22 career wins with the Aeros (the team record is 23, held by Jamie Brown) didn’t have his best stuff, the Aeros were in jeopardy of being good luck charms.
In just four innings, Espino spotted the B-Mets two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five.
“I was pleased with the way Espino handled the situation,” Rodriguez said. “He did not have his best stuff today, but he found a way to keep us in the game. That’s what good pitchers do.”
After getting through the first two innings unscathed, Espino ran into trouble when the B-Mets plated the first two runs of the game, aided by a hit batter and balk and driven in on a pair of run-scoring doubles by left fielder Darrell Ceciliani and catcher Blake Forsythe.
But the Aeros cut the deficit in half in the fourth on back-to-back singles by Ramirez and designated hitter Chun Chen and then Aguilar’s sacrifice fly.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Aeros blog at http://www.ohio.com/aeros. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.