The Akron Aeros have been inconsistent through the first half of the season, but remain very much in the race in the Eastern League's Western Division as they near the All-Star break.
The past week: A five-game homestand and an eight-game road swing ended and began, respectively, with similar heartbreaking losses. In the finale of a five-game series against the Altoona Curve, the Aeros twice rallied to tie the game and took the lead in the bottom of the seventh before the Curve pushed across two in the top of the eighth and held on for the win. One day later, the first game of the road trip produced a one-run loss as Bowie used two runs in the bottom of the fifth for a 3-2 triumph. Will Roberts allowed 11 base runners, but kept the Aeros in the game as the offense left 12 runners on base and went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. The offense began to pick up Thursday as the Aeros pushed across 11 runs to win their second straight game, 11-8 at Richmond.
Where they stand: Despite a four-game losing streak that preceded their back-to-back wins, the Aeros have not lost much ground in the Eastern League's Western Division. A four-game losing streak by division leader Harrisburg has kept the entire division tightly bunched, with all six teams separated by just seven games and with their win Thursday, the Aeros crept back to within 4.5 games of the Senators. Their recently concluded homestand left the Aeros with a 22-24 home mark on the season.
Who's hot: Shortstop Jose Ramirez has been the team's most-consistent bat of late, with two multi-hit games in the past week, but the lineup has struggled overall, going 1-for-28 during a three-game losing streak spanning the team's two most recent series. First baseman Jesus Aguilar has scuffled of late, but continues to lead the league in RBI with 61. Right fielder Carlos Moncrief blasted his 11th home run of the season in a 10-6 loss to Bowie on Tuesday and Jake Lowery went 3-for-4 with a home run and 5 RBI in Thursday's win. Pitching has kept the Aeros in most of their recent games, as Brett Brach (5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER), Jordan Cooper (5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER), Matt Packer (6 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 5 K) and Roberts (6 IP, 3 ER) have all turned in serviceable efforts over the past week.
What's ahead: A 12:05 game at Richmond on Sunday will conclude the first half of the season and lead into a two-day break for the Eastern League All-Star Game. Aguilar, Moncrief, reliever Jose Flores and starter Matt Packer will represent the Aeros at the game, which will take place July 10 in New Britain, Conn. After the break, the Aeros will return to action the following day, starting a four-game home series against Altoona.
Next home game: July 11 vs. Altoona, 7:05 p.m.