The Aeros could never quite dig their way out of an early hole Sunday at Canal Park.
Any chance of a last-ditch comeback also disappeared when the Altoona Curve put an extra four runs on the board in the ninth and claimed a 9-4 victory over the Aeros in front of 3,654 fans, winning two out of three in the weekend series.
The Aeros had Altoona starting pitcher David Bromberg (5-8) on the ropes, scoring three times in the third after the Curve had taken an early 4-0 lead. The Aeros also put the first two runners on in the fourth.
But then Bromberg retired 11 of the next 12 hitters he faced, and the one base runner he allowed was erased by a double play to close out the seventh.
Bromberg allowed six hits, walking two and striking out five in his seven innings.
Center fielder Tyler Holt had two singles in three at-bats against Bromberg and has now hit safely in 15 consecutive games. He also got his 21st stolen base of the season.
“First at-bat I battled and just kind of protected and put good wood on it,” said Holt. “The second one, I got a fastball and hit it up the middle. The third one he just had a good pitch sequence on me and struck me out.”
The Aeros (45-49) have found the home cooking much less tasty than a year ago when they dominated at Canal Park en route to the Eastern League Championship. The Aeros are now 23-27 at home this season.
Aeros starter Toru Murata (3-5) allowed five runs (three earned) on 11 hits in 4⅔ innings. Altoona scored twice in both the second and third and once in the fifth for a 5-3 lead. Curve right fielder Alex Dickerson smacked four hits in five at-bats including a two-run homer and a pair of doubles, scoring three runs.
Dickerson, a left-handed hitter, has five of his 11 home runs against the Aeros this season.
At least Akron apparently avoided what could have been a serious injury to spark-plug shortstop Jose Ramirez, who had to be helped off the field after being upended by left fielder Matt Lawson while nearly catching what turned into a pop fly double by Altoona’s Dickerson in the fifth inning.
“He should be all right,” said Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez. “We’re going to wait and see for tomorrow but I don’t think he’s going to be out too long. Maybe a day, maybe two, but he should be all right.”
Rodriguez said Ramirez absorbed the blow to the back of his right ankle, and it is likely a bruise.
“He said it was more the hit than the twist,” said Rodriguez.
Ironically, Ramirez — who is usually the second baseman — could be looking at reduced playing time, along with Ronny Rodriguez, who usually plays shortstop but started Sunday’s game at second before switching positions when Ramirez left the game.
That is because the Indians’ No. 1 prospect, shortstop Francisco Lindor, has been promoted to the Class AA Aeros from high Class A Carolina. He played in the Futures All-Star Game on Sunday at Citi Field in New York and is expected to arrive in Akron today for the start of a three-game series against Erie.
It is not certain yet if he will appear in tonight’s lineup.
Rodriguez said the roster is currently one player under the limit so a corresponding move will not be required.
And he doesn’t anticipate any problems juggling his infielders to keep everybody happy.
“All three are going to be out there on an every night basis,” said Rodriguez. “They are three prospects and we are going to develop all three.”
Ramirez, who leads the Eastern League with 33 stolen bases and 65 runs scored, had a one-out RBI triple and scored on Rodriguez’ groundout in the third to extend his hitting streak to 10 games (22-for-47).
Back-to-back doubles by Akron’s Cedric Hunter and Jesus Aquilar scored the third run. The Aeros added a run in the ninth on Jake Lowery’s double and Giovanny Urshela’s RBI single.