Erbe off to strong start in Double-A

Erbe off to strong start in Double-A

Brandon Erbe has more losses than hits allowed this season.

Erbe (0-2) struck out eight iver six innings Friday but got hurt by the only hit he's allowed this year -- a two-run homer to Carlos Santana -- as the Bowie Baysox fell to the visiting Akron Aeros, 3-1.

"He threw outstanding tonight. You'd like to see that every time out," said Baysox pitching coach Larry McCall. "But you're not always going to get runs and it's too bad we didn't score any for him."

The lack of wins isn't that vital, however -- the Orioles want Erbe to make progress throwing strikes and going deep into games. So in that regard, he was a winner Friday.

"He located his fastball, he could have pitched anywhere tonight," McCall said, who noted that Erbe's heater sat between 92-95 mph. "He's still improving. He threw some good changeups and he threw all three pitches for strikes."

Erbe, the Orioles' third-round pick in the 2005 Draft, did not walk a batter in his second start, a good sign after the right-hander issued four free passes in his April 9 loss to Akron.

"He looked outstanding. I think he retired the first 13 hitters he faced and he was pitching from windup the whole time," said McCall. "But threw a changeup to [Santana] and he hit a two-run homer. He was in a good groove though."

The Owings Mills, Md., native went 10-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 28 starts last season at Class A Advanced Frederick. He struck out 151 over 150 1/3 innings, but it was two other key stats -- 21 homers allowed and 50 walks -- that have Erbe set on making progress at Double-A.

"Stuff happens and sometimes you're not lucky. We don't get runs and you've just got to hope the other team doesn't get any, either," McCall said. "But he had a good fastball, he threw it to both sides of the plate on a downward plane and so he looked much better than his last start."

Erbe struck out the side in the third but ran into trouble an inning later when Beau Mills reached on first baseman Brandon Snyder's error. Santana, one of Cleveland's top prospects, followed with his third homer of the season to right. Erbe then hit Nick Weglarz but escaped further trouble by getting Niuman Romero to pop up and end the inning.

The 21-year-old right-hander struck out two in the fifth and got Santana swinging to end the sixth -- and his evening.

McCall wouldn't speculate on a potential promotion later this season but said he's hopeful Erbe can establish himself in the Eastern League.

"You'd like to see a guy go up every year, but I'd like to see him have a good year in Double-A," McCall said. "I'd like to see this guy beat the league."

Erbe's strong start came one night after Troy Patton extended his scoreless streak to 11 innings with six strong frames. Patton also did not walk a batter.

"It's good. I've been here a long time and I've seen some good talent, but the main thing is being consistent," McCall said. "But I think good pitching is contagious, everyone wants to throw a good game, so it was nice to see Patton last night. You like to see guys progress every time out."

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.