Aeros left-hander Matt Packer hasn’t been able to climb out of the rut that’s been his 2013 season and was again hit hard in an 8-2 loss to Bowie in front of a season-high crowd of 6,374 on Friday night.
Packer gave up four earned runs in five innings on 90 pitches to drop his season record to 0-4. Most of that damage came in the top of the second inning and all of it came with two outs in that inning.
Packer gave up a leadoff double to Caleb Joseph, but then recorded two outs without allowing him to score. Almost out of trouble, the floodgates opened up. Zelous Wheeler singled past Aeros shortstop Giovanny Urshela to bring home a run. Aaron Baker followed with a double off the left-center field wall. Both Wheeler and Baker were brought home on Garabez Rosa’s two-out, two-RBI double down the left field line.
In the top of the third, again with two outs already in the inning, Packer just couldn’t get to the dugout. Joseph singled up the middle and scored from first on Henry Urrutia’s double to left field.
This comes after Packer’s last start against Binghamton, in which he was shelled for 10 hits and four runs over 4⅓ innings. Manager Edwin Rodriguez saw improvement in Packer this time around.
“I think he did a lot better because he kept us in the game,” Rodriguez said. “It was a good outing, I think. And he needed that, and we needed that.”
After those two innings, Packer settled down and started missing bats. He struck out the side in the top of the fourth against the same three hitters that started the rally in the second inning and finished with eight strikeouts for the game. That equaled his season total entering Friday night.
“He was getting ahead [in the count],” Rodriguez said of Packer’s high strikeout numbers. “When he gets ahead, expands the strike zone, he can do a lot of things. I think that’s key for him because he’s not a power pitcher.”
The Aeros offense was stifled for much of the night against Bowie left-hander Jake Pettit. Safe to say, the only fireworks were coming from the University of Akron’s Spring Fest concert next door. At one point in the seventh inning, during play, a barrage of fireworks overlooked Canal Park.
Each time Packer was scored upon, the Aeros did get a runner home in the bottom half of the inning. Quincy Latimore doubled in the bottom of the second and was brought home on Kyle Bellows’ single through the left side of the infield. In the third, Urshela doubled to deep center field and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice.
The normal source of the Aeros’ offense was quiet for the first time in a while. Chun Chen entered Friday leading the Eastern League in batting average (.353) and on-base percentage (.471) but struck out once, grounded into a double play once and finished the night 0-4. He had hit in five consecutive games and had six multi-hit games in the Aeros’ last 10.
Bowie blew the game wide open in the seventh inning with three runs off reliever Cole Cook. Kyle Landis came on in the eighth inning and gave up one run.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.