The Akron Aeros went 3-4 on the week, improving their record to an Eastern League worst 6-11. The Aeros have struggled at times on the mound and at the plate. They have pitched well and hit well but have yet to do both consistently. A young roster of new players has led to some inconsistent play but the talent on this roster suggests they will put it all together soon.
The inconsistency has plagued both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. They hold a team batting average of .259, Chun Chen leading the team with a .308 average. 21 year old third baseman Giovanny Urshela is second with an even .300 average. On the pitching side, Toru Murata leads all Aeros starters with a 2.60 ERA, while T.J. House leads in wins with two and strikeouts with 27. On Thursday against the Bowie Bay Sox, the Aeros smashed out 11 runs but lost the game after giving up 13 to the home Bay Sox.
They managed to take two out of three games against the Trenton Thunder, winning their first series of the season. They dropped the first game 5-3, then came back and won back-to-back games with scores of 5-1 and 10-6. Then they traveled to Bowie to face the Bay Sox. They defeated the Bay Sox in six games to win the 2012 Eastern League Championship. Bowie exacted a bit of revenge by winning three of four games against the Aeros. Akron did not pitch well in the first three games, giving up a total of 34 runs in the set. They got a strong performance in game four as T.J. House threw 5.2 innings allowing only two runs on six hits and nine strikeouts. House won two games on the week, providing the only real consistency on a pitching staff that has a team 5.19 ERA.
House was a 16th round draft pick by the Indians in 2008 out of Picayune High School in Mississippi. He skipped rookie ball, beginning his professional career in 2009 with the Lake County Captains. That first taste of pro ball was a successful one. His record looks poor at 6-11, but he pitched to an impressive 3.15 ERA. He made 26 starts throwing 134 innings and striking out 109.
He moved up to Kinston in the Carolina League the following season and continued to succeed. His numbers actually look strikingly similar. He went 6-10 with a 3.91 ERA, 136 innings pitched with 106 strikeouts. In 2012 he made four starts for Carolina before getting the call up to the Aeros. For Akron he managed an 8-5 record in 23 starts. He pitched 124 innings with 90 strikeouts and a 3.98 ERA.
Beginning this season at Akron, House has begun the young season on the right foot. In his first start of the season against the Bay Sox he was knocked around a bit. He gave up five runs before getting pulled with two outs in the sixth inning. He bounced back against Trenton throwing six shutout innings and striking out nine. He earned his second win of the season against Bowie on Sunday.
His performance on Sunday was top notch. Held to an 85-pitch count early this season, House mowed through the lineup retiring 17 batters, nine by strikeout. Manager Edwin Rodriguez was impressed with his starts.
“He kept a good tempo” Rodriguez said, “Everything was working for him.”
The pitch count restriction didn’t affect House at all. He went out there and made his pitches, got outs, and dominated the Bay Sox.
“It didn’t affect me at all” House said of his pitch count, “You have to go out there and do your job.”
The 23 year old House shows a great deal of maturity. He thinks through his outings and takes a cerebral approach.
“The key is getting the breaking ball over” House said, “command the off-speed and go from there. You have to change it up and keep one step ahead.”
The nine strikeouts he amassed against the Bay Sox gives him 27 on the season, giving him the tie for the Eastern League lead in strikeouts. Even more impressive is his command. He has walked only three hitters in 22 innings on the season. That gives him a Cliff Lee-esque 9.0 strikeout to walk ratio. House is pitching well, rolling through his starts and seemingly getting better as he goes. If he continues, a call up to Columbus may not be far away.
Photo: Akron Aeros