The bats came alive a little too late for the Aeros in a 9-4 Eastern League loss to the Richmond Flying Squirrels in front of a sellout crowd at Canal Park on Friday.
Solo home runs by Cedric Hunter and Jesus Aguilar to lead off the ninth inning got the crowd on its feet for the first time all game, but by that point the deficit was too large and a comeback did not come to fruition.
Chris Gloor started for the Flying Squirrels (49-57) and turned in a terrific performance, improving to 8-5.
He struck out seven in eight innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits and one walk.
“He pitched a good game,” Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “He’s not a power pitcher but the second turnaround he was changing speeds and his location was good. You have to give him a lot of credit.”
Gloor found success by getting ahead in counts and relentlessly pounding the strike zone.
He threw first-pitch strikes to the first 15 Aeros batters he faced and was 23-for-29 in getting first pitch strikes for the game.
“You’ve got to be ready to swing,” Rodriguez said. “The first-pitch strike is huge. The average on 0-1 counts in the big leagues is under .200. We keep telling that to our pitchers, but he did a hell of a job doing that tonight.”
Aeros starter Brett Brach did not have the same success as Gloor, largely because he did not do what Gloor did well in commanding his pitches.
Brach got ahead of only 13 of the 28 batters he faced, hit three batters, walked one and threw a wild pitch.
“He was getting behind in the count,” Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t matter where you pitch, if you pitch behind in the count you’re going to get hit.”
Brach struggled out of the gate, allowing five singles in the first inning for three runs.
The second inning started with a leadoff double before a wild pitch and two singles scored two more runs.
In the third, he hit the first two batters and a single later brought both of them in.
The leadoff man reaching was a recurring problem for Brach. He only got the first man out in one of his five innings.
Although he admittedly didn’t have his best stuff, Brach was plagued by a bit of bad luck as several bloop hits fell in to either start or maintain rallies, and it might have affected his poise on the mound.
“I would say it gets into his head a little,” Rodriguez said. “He knew that his location wasn’t there. Some of their hits weren’t hit hard but that happens when you’re behind in the count.”
Brach (6-7) gave up seven runs on nine hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
“This game is about pitching,” Rodriguez said. “Being down 7-2 in the third inning changed the whole approach. Brett Brach has been doing a great job for us. Today was just a bad day for him.”
Until the ninth-inning rally, the Aeros’ only offense came in the second inning when Carlos Moncrief turned on an 0-1 pitch and put it over the right-field wall, scoring Aguilar.
From that point on, the Aeros (52-54) were stymied by Gloor’s relentless strike-throwing approach, mustering only two hits and one walk from innings three through eight.
“We were trying to do too much,” Rodriguez said.
Aguilar led the Aeros at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a walk, single, home run, RBI and two runs scored. Moncrief singled and homered, driving in two and Alex Monsalve had two singles.
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