AKRON, Ohio – Breaking the game open with a four-run third inning and putting it away with a six-run seventh, the Akron Aeros opened a three-game series Friday night with a 12-2 victory against the Portland Sea Dogs in front of 5,113 fans.
The Aeros (30-31) increased their winning streak to four games. The Sea Dogs fell to 31-27.
“Akron swung the bats well,” Portland Manager Kevin Boles said. We gave them some pitches that were up in the zone and they were able to take advantage of that. “This was the first time we’ve seen their lineup. When you see it on paper it’s very impressive, but when you see it in person it puts it in a whole new perspective.”
Charlie Haeger (3-3), a 29-year-old knuckleballer who started for the Sea Dogs and who last pitched in the major leagues in 2010, is still recovering from missing the 2012 season with Tommy John surgery.
He struck out eight in six innings, but allowed seven runs and six runs, all earned, uncorking two wild pitches — both on third strikes that allowed the Akron batters to reach first.
The biggest producers for Akron on its 13-hit night were right fielder Carlos Moncrief and left fielder Quincy Latimore. Moncrief went 3 for 5 with a double, an RBI and four runs, and Latimore went 3 for 4 with two triples, a run and three RBI.
It was Moncrief’s third three-hit game since May 30 and his second one in the last three games, extending his hitting streak to eight games. It was Latimore’s second three-hit game of the season and first since April 13 at Bowie.
“The interesting thing with their lineup was that they were able to use all fields,” Boles said. “They were letting the count get a little bit deeper. They made some adjustments and you could tell they have some patience at the plate as well. To be able to do that against Charlie’s knuckleball is very impressive.”
The Nos. 5 and 6 hitters in the Aeros’ lineup had the two biggest hits in the four-run third, both with two outs — an RBI single and a two-run triple — that increased Akron’s lead to 5-0.
Trailing 6-2 in the seventh, Pete Ruiz of Portland gave up five consecutive hits and allowed the first seven batters to reach before recording an out. The result was a six-run inning that thwarted any chance of a comeback and bumped Ruiz’s ERA to 5.74.
“It’s all about timing,” Aeros Manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “We’ve faced a few knuckleball pitchers this year and they get a feel for what they want to do at the plate. You have to try to time it early and don’t try to do too much. That’s what it’s all about, making adjustments.
“They have to learn to face those guys if they want to get to the next level.”
Xander Bogaerts’ nine-game hitting streak came to a halt with an 0 for 4, striking out in the top of the ninth.
No. 8 hitter Christian Vazquez had two of the Sea Dogs’ three RBI.
“I’m a big fan of the way Bogaerts plays,” Rodriguez said. “I saw him last year. He plays hard and with a high level of intensity. But his streak had to end sometime and I’m happy we were able to do it.”
Reliever Miguel Celestino struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth for Portland.
Matt Barnes (3-2, 5.62) will takes the mound tonight for Portland.
“This one’s over,” Boles said. “You have to have a short-term memory in this game. We’ve put this one on the backburner. We’ll get a good workout in (Saturday) and be ready to go.”