Brett Brach allowed his fair share of base runners but pitched himself out of three shaky situations to lead the Aeros to a 5-0 Eastern League win over the Erie SeaWolves at Canal Park on Wednesday night.
Brach threw six scoreless innings, striking out four and allowing six hits and a walk. In two previous starts against the SeaWolves, Brach was hit hard (12 hits, nine runs in 10? innings). On Wednesday night, the SeaWolves again put runners in scoring position but couldn’t find a way to bring them home.
Brach (7-3) has struggled out of the stretch this season, making it a point of emphasis in his past few starts.
“All season I’ve struggled with men on second and third or in scoring position with two outs,” Brach said. “When I had that [Wednesday night] I really slowed the game down and really concentrated. ... I was able to throw for a strike and then throw it out of the zone, and they’d swing over it.”
The SeaWolves (72-64) loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the second inning with three consecutive singles. The next batter, James Robbins, weakly flied out to left field to end that threat. An inning later the SeaWolves were threatening again with two runners on and one out. Brach escaped unscathed a second time thanks to a double play. The SeaWolves started a third rally in the sixth inning when Eugenio Suarez and Ramon Cabrera each singled to lead off the inning. Brach struck out the next two hitters and induced another weak fly out to left field.
Indians reliever Brett Myers came on in the seventh inning for another rehab assignment. After allowing a leadoff single, a double play and a strikeout ended the seventh inning and his night. On Monday, he struck out two hitters in a scoreless inning. Aeros Manager Edwin Rodriguez said the organization has been “very pleased” with how Myers has been throwing and the movement on his pitches.
As Brach was pitching his way out of jams, SeaWolves starting pitcher Warwick Saupold couldn’t get any help from his defense. The Aeros brought home five runs off of him but only one went down as earned.
Only minutes after Brach got off his bases-loaded jam in the top of the second the Aeros loaded the bases in the bottom of the second thanks to a single, a hit batsman and an error in center field. Chris Wallace brought home a run on a bloop single that fell between three SeaWolves defenders in shallow right field. Jose Ramirez later drove in a second run on a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Matt Lawson.
The third inning was the lone inning with an earned run but it wasn’t filled with sound baseball, either. Tyler Holt (2-for-3, two runs scored) singled to lead off the inning and two batters later was followed by Adam Abraham (2-for-4, two runs), who drove Saupold’s pitch to the warning track in right-center field. As Abraham rounded first he nearly ran into Holt, who didn’t advance on the play. Catcher Jake Lowery (1-for-3, two RBI) doubled off the wall in right field to score Holt but not Abraham, who would have had to come around from first due to Holt’s mistake.
The Aeros (65-71) tacked on two more unearned runs in the fifth. Holt again led off with a single and after moving to second on a fielder’s choice, scored on a throwing error by Suarez. Lowery drove in his second run of the night on a weak ground ball to third base.
It wasn’t a pretty win. But sometimes a scorching line drive is caught and a poorly hit bloop falls in for a hit. Baseball evens itself out.
“Sometimes we have 15 hits, no runs,” Rodriguez said. “So I’ll take that one. I’ll take ugly wins over nice losses.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ.