It was a milestone kind of day for first baseman Jesus Aguilar and the culmination of a good weekend for the Aeros at Canal Park Sunday.
A second-inning sacrifice fly earned Aguilar his 100th run batted-in of the season as he became the first to reach that mark in franchise history. And the Aeros captured a 6-2 victory, their third in four games over Binghamton, the team with the best record in the Eastern League.
It was the first time any team won a four-game series this year against the B-Mets (82-52), who have already clinched first place in the Eastern Division and a berth in the playoffs.
That gives the Aeros (64-69), on the brink of elimination from the playoff chase, a measure of satisfaction.
“Getting the lead early in the game was very important for Cody Anderson, our pitcher,” said Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez. “He was struggling with command before today’s start and it was good for him to feel comfortable out there.”
The Aeros grabbed a 6-1 lead, scoring three times in both the first and second inning. Anderson and a trio of relievers did the rest, allowing only one more run in the last seven innings.
Anderson, a 22-year-old right-hander making his third start since a promotion from high Class A Carolina, was on an 80-pitch limit Sunday. He threw 78 but was pulled after walking the first two hitters in the fifth. Reliever Bryce Stowell (3-1) earned the victory by inducing a double-play grounder on his first pitch, though he allowed one to score on a wild pitch. He struck out four in two innings.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Aguilar set the team record for RBI Aug. 19, besting the previous mark of 97 shared by Wes Hodges in 2008 and current Indians catcher Carlos Santana in 2009. And he was eager to get No. 100 out of the way.
“I got like five days thinking about one more RBI, one more RBI, one more RBI,” said Aquilar, who leads the EL and is 38 behind the league record set by former Red Sox star Ken ‘‘Hawk’’ Harrelson in 1962. “So now, I feel great. I realize I got my goal already.”
The right-handed hitter’s numbers are dramatically better in clutch situations. He has made the most of an overall .272 batting average and 15 home runs. He is hitting .321 with runners on base, .343 with men in scoring position and .414 with two out and runners in scoring position.
“I try to do my best and do what I can,” said Aguilar. “I got to play hard every day because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Ronny Rodriguez reached on a one-out infield hit in the first, and moved up on Aguilar’s two-out single. Tyler Holt blooped an RBI single over the second baseman’s head and Aguilar scored the second run on a wild pitch. Jake Lowery walked and Giovanny Urshela singled to center to score Holt and make it 3-0.
A run-scoring single by Blake Forsythe put Binghamton on the board in the second but the Aeros responded in their half. Matt Lawson was hit by a pitch and Jose Ramirez smacked a comebacker off the leg of starting pitcher Greg Peavey (2-2) for a single.
Rodriguez bunted for a single and B-Mets catcher Forsythe threw wildly to first, allowing Lawson to score. Adam Abraham delivered a sacrifice fly to center and Aguilar followed with a drive that left fielder Joe Bonfe caught slamming into the fence, robbing him of extra bases, but making it 6-1.
“He’s just a good hitter,” said Edwin Rodriguez of Aguilar. “He happens to have power but he drives the ball well opposite field. He puts the ball in play and he’s been very consistent throughout the year. Consistency has been his main value.”
Left-hander Kyle Crockett followed Stowell, making his seventh appearance since being promoted from Lake County, and threw two more scoreless innings. Closer Jose Flores struck out two in the ninth.
“Bullpen was very good today,” said Rodriguez. “You come out of the bullpen throwing strikes, that’s the key. When Stowell came in and that first-pitch double play, I think that was the game.”
The Aeros start a four-game series at 7:05 tonight against Erie in their final homestand.