Starting lineups for Monday’s Eastern League game between the Akron Aeros and the Erie SeaWolves at Jerry Uht Park:
Akron Aeros (75-51): 1. Tyler Holt CF, 2. Jordan Henry RF, 3. Chun Chen 1B, 4. Nick Weglarz LF, 5. Jesus Aguilar DH, 6. Matt Lawson 2B, 7. Ryan Rohlinger SS, 8. Roberto Perez C, 9. Carlos Rojas 3B.
Starting pitcher: LH T.J. House (7-3, 3.43 ERA).
Erie SeaWolves (53-73): 1. Jamie Johnson LF, 2. Niuman Romero SS, 3. Nick Castellanos RF, 4. Jordan Lennerton 1B, 5. Avisail Garcia CF, 6. Rawley Bishop 3B, 7. Tony Plagman DH, 8. Brandon Douglas 2B, 9. James McCann C.
Starting pitcher: RH Patrick Cooper (2-8, 5.26 ERA).
– Mike Copper
The polar opposites of the league’s Western Division meet for their final three times in 2012.
Erie not only seeks to stave off official playoff elimination in today’s series opener, but avoid matching the eight-game losing streak they recorded July 21-26. That stretch included four seven-inning losses and back-to-back setbacks in 11 and 15 innings.
New Hampshire, last season’s league champion, was the only team with a worse record in the league before Monday’s action. The Fisher Cats (53-74) were supposed to open a series at Binghamton.
The last-place SeaWolves actually go into Monday with a winning record (11-9) against the Aeros. However, that’s a miniscule smudge on the dossier for the Cleveland Indians’ Double-A affiliate, which possesses the league’s best record.
Akron is two games better than Trenton, the Eastern Division leader, in the victory column. The Thunder was 73-54 going into Monday’s game against Altoona at Waterfront Park.
All three games between the SeaWolves and the Aeros have 7:05 p.m. first pitches. Probable starters for the series are: Akron LH T.J. House (7-3, 3.43 ERA) vs. Erie RH Patrick Cooper (2-8, 5.26 ERA) today; Akron RH Toru Murata (2-1, 3.14) vs. Erie LH Ramon Garcia (8-9, 4.12) Tuesday; and Akron RH Danny Salazar (2-0, 2.70) vs. Erie RH Jared Gayhart (1-3, 4.50) Wednesday.
Niuman Romero could provide Erie fans with the closest thing to a down-to-the-wire finish over the league’s final two weeks.
Romero goes into Monday as the league leader in hits. The switch-hitting shortstop has 146, four more than Ryan Goins’ total with New Hampshire.
The next hit that Romero records will tie him with current Erie outfielder Jamie Johnson for sixth on the franchise’s all-time list in that single-season category. Johnson finished with 147 in 2011.
Alejandro Freire (2001) and Clete Thomas (2007) are tied for fourth on the list. Each posted 148 hits during their respective seasons.
Detroit Tigers second baseman Omar Infante, 30, has maintained the SeaWolves’ record of 163 hits in one season since 2001. Like Infante, Romero, 27, is a native of Venezuela.
Daniel Fields caught the ceremonial first pitch before Monday’s game. The SeaWolves outfielder was seen freely jogging around the front of Erie’s dugout, although he wasn’t in manager Chris Cron’s starting lineup.
Fields was hit on the ankle by a pitch during Sunday’s 8-6 loss to Harrisburg. He took first base, but was then removed after he gingerly advanced to second on an ensuing play.
Reading Phillies slugger Darin Ruf, who recently homered in five consecutive league games, received its latest player of the week award. Ruf began Monday as the league’s leader in homers (30) and slugging percentage (.590), and was second in RBIs (86).
Bowie left-hander Jake Pettit, who flirted with a no-hitter against Trenton last Saturday, was its easy choice for pitcher of the week.
Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who’s eligible for Hall-of-Fame voting come January, has reportedly signed to pitch for the Sugar Land Skeeters, a suburban team from Houston that plays in the independent Atlantic League.
If that happens, it was be the first competitive baseball game for Clemens, 50, since his 24-year major league career concluded in 2007. Earlier this year, he was acquitted of perjury charges for lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs.