Bowie, the Eastern League's top-hitting team, once again flexed its muscles in a 13-5 victory over the host Aeros Friday night at Canal Park.
The bright side? Thanks to 5 Aeros errors, only 3 runs were earned.
Despite a solid start in which he allowed just one earned run over 5 2/3 innings, Akron right-handed picther Toru Murata took the loss. The Japanese native was once the top draft pick of the Yomuri Giants.
That was 2007 during the Nippon Pro Baseball League’s draft, when the right-hander was on top of the Japanese sports world.
But after pitching three seasons in the Giants minor leagues, Murata was released. Just 20 days later, he was signed by the Indians, who had begun efforts to more seriously scout the Pacific Rim.
In his first professional season in the United States, the forkball-throwing Murata went 3-2 with a 2.36 ERA in 22 games (including five starts) at high Class-A Kinston.
Last season he made his debut at Double-A and this season has become one of the Aeros top pitchers. The 27-year old showed why again Friday night, despite the Aeros getting crushed for the second consecutive night by visiting Bowie.
A fielding error on left fielder Delvi Cid did Murata in after 5 2/3 innings, but it was the slew of Akron errors on the night that proved the most damage in the disheartening loss.
“Everybody talks about how good his fastball command is,” Aeros pitching coach Greg Hibbard said. “And it is. When you have above-average fastball command, it compliments not-so-good secondary stuff because it makes batters swing the bat.
“So, his above-average fastball command compliments an average slider and average change up. But when you can command your fastball in the bottom of the strike zone to both sides of the plate, they’re going to swing at a changeup that starts at the bottom of the strike zone.”
While Murata (1-2, 2.60 ERA) did just that to keep the Baysox off balance, Aeros spark plug Jose Ramirez quickly got to work to helped stake the host to an early lead. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Akron’s second baseman singled, stole second and third bases and scored on first baseman Jesus Aguilar’s fielder’s choice two batters later.
But the Baysox tied the game 1-1 in the fourth after center fielder Kyle Hudson lead off the inning with a double that dropped in shallow center field and then scored on catcher Luis Martinez's single. Martinez entered the game in the bottom of the second inning after Caleb Joseph had to leave after fouling a ball off his right shin/ankle area as he led off the top of the inning.
The Aeros re-took the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the inning with a two-out rally, as catcher Chris Wallace doubled and scored on Ronny Rodriguez's single. The host added to its lead with another run in the fifth inning, the run once again plated by Ramirez. After reaching on a fielder’s choice, Ramirez stole second base and scored on an Aguilar single to make it 3-1 Aeros.
Bowie cut the deficit to a run with a two-out unearned run in the sixth inning after Cid dropped a ball in the windy outfield. When Murata couldn’t shake off the mistake by walking the next batter and then allowing a single, his night was done.
In Murata’s place, Austin Adams made his season debut after recovering from shoulder surgery. But the right-hander quickly allowed two runners to advance on a wild pitch then score two more unearned runs on Henry Urrutia’s two-run single that gave the Baysox a 4-3 lead and wiped Murata out of contention for the win.
The Baysox added two more runs that were charged to Adams in the seventh inning to push their advantage to three runs, 6-3. The Aeros offense battled to reagin two runs after back-to-back walks by Tyler Holt and Ramirez opened the seventh inning, both came around to score on Aguilar's two-run double that gave him four RBI on the night.
But Bowie’s route was on, aided by a seven-run eighth inning that in the bitter wind and cold, the Aeros couldn’t recover from.