T.J. House delivered his second nine-strikeout outing in as many starts and the Aeros’ offense backed him up in a 7-2 win over Bowie at Canal Park on Sunday afternoon.
House lasted 5 ⅔ innings and allowed two earned runs but had a 9:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Facing a lefty-heavy lineup, House had strong command of his off-speed pitches, keeping a potent Baysox offense off balance.
“T.J., he did good,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “He was throwing strikes, getting ahead of the count. He kept a good tempo of the game. That was key for him. His change-up and slider were working, everything was working for him.”
This was House’s third strong outing out of four appearances this spring. Take out his second start of the year (5 ⅔ innings, five earned runs), also against Bowie, and House (2-1, 3.22 ERA) has allowed only three runs over 22 ⅓ innings.
Rodriguez sees a pitcher, now in his second year at the Double-A level, becoming more comfortable with his competition.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Rodriguez said. “Developing as a player, in his case as a pitcher. You learn things when you spend time [at one level] and you start knowing your pitches.”
Reliever Brett Brach came on in relief, allowing two hits but no runs over 1 ⅓ innings. Bryan Price then finished the final two innings.
The Aeros lineup produced quickly against Bowie starter Kevin Gausman, one of the top prospects in the Baltimore Orioles’ system.
In the top of the first, Tyler Holt (2-5) led off by reaching on an error. Second baseman Jose Ramirez followed with an RBI triple into the corner in right field and then scored on a ground ball to the third-base side by Jesus Aguilar (2-4).
House had his only shaky inning in the second and gave away the lead. The Aeros took it back in the bottom of the second. Two singles put runners on the corners and Chris Wallace came in on Giovanny Urshela’s 6-4-3 double play.
Leading 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth, and now into Bowie’s bullpen, the Aeros broke the game wide open. Quincy Latimore, in a scary play for a few moments, was hit in the back of the head with one out. Latimore was checked out by the Aeros medical staff but stayed in the game.
Aguilar then doubled and Carlos Moncrief was walked to load the bases. Wallace came through for the insurance run on a single to right field. Shortstop Ronny Rodriguez brought two more runs home with a bloop single to center and Urshela capped the four-run inning with a single to left.
The eighth was a big inning, but putting three runs on the scoreboard against Gausman was probably the bigger feat.
“He has a very good arm, 94-95, with a lot of movement,” Rodriguez said. “I can see him pitching in the big leagues for many years. I haven’t seen the other pitchers in the league, but I can picture him to be one of the best.”
House and Brach were each helped out by Ramirez, who turned in some solid defense at second base. In the top of the fourth inning and with runners on first and second, Bowie catcher Brian Ward hit a ball behind the bag at second. Ramirez got to the ball and had the throw to first base in time, but Aguilar, at first, appeared to assume Ramirez wouldn’t get there and didn’t have his foot on the bag. Still, Ramirez getting to the ball saved a run. House struck out the next batter, Cale Iorg, to end the threat.
In the seventh, with two runners on, Ramirez fielded a ball that first careened off of Brach’s glove, scooped it up and got the runner in time.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.