Nellie Drops the Boom, Hankins’ Grand Game, and More in This Week’s ‘Duck Tales
Bob Toth | On 19, Aug 2016
After a lengthy adjustment period while losing several of the more productive contributors on the club to promotions, the Akron RubberDucks have won seven of their last eight games.
It has been a strong and needed turnaround for the Indians’ Double-A affiliate, who started the month with losses in five of their first six August contests and were 2-14 dating back to July 22 at the start of a seven-game losing streak. The self-destruction appeared as though it may have been enough to knock Akron (63-60) out of the playoff race, but their five-game winning streak and better play in the middle weeks of August have pulled the club within five games of first place Altoona in the Eastern League’s Western Division with 18 games to go. The only thing to stand in their way of late has been a pair of rainouts.
In other tales from the Rubber City…
HANKINS WITH SEASON-HIGH SIX RBI
Todd Hankins had his second four-hit game of the season (and his first since May 25) as he hit two singles and two homers while driving in a season-high six runs in Akron’s win over Portland on August 12.
Hankins spearheaded the Akron offense, which unloaded for 18 runs on 20 hits, including seven runs in the eighth inning. He was instrumental in much of the scoring after reaching on an infield bunt single in the third inning in his first at bat. He scored later that inning with the game’s third run.
Each of the first three batters of the fourth reached base to set the stage for Hankins, who hit a grand slam off of Jacob Dahlstrand to make it a 7-0 game. He struck out to start the sixth, but hit a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh and singled again in the eighth in his 4-for-5 performance.
NELLIE BUSTS OUT THE BOOM STICK
Nellie Rodriguez has dropped the boom on opposing pitchers three times in the last eight days for Akron.
The 22-year-old slugging first baseman pushed his homer total to 23 on the season with a two-run blast in a three-RBI game against Trenton on Thursday. The blast followed back-to-back homer games for the young right-handed hitter on August 11 and 12, when he drove in two runs and five runs, respectively.
HAASE HITTING STRIDE DESPITE LIMITED TIME
Catcher Eric Haase has played sparingly, but when in the lineup, he has continued a recent string of strong offensive contributions.
He was held hitless for the first time in August on Thursday night, when he was 0-for-2 at the plate with a pair of walks. He had hit safely in his first five games in the month, going 7-for-22 (.318) with a double and triple, two homers, and five RBI.
KAMINSKY RIGHT BACK ON TRACK
Left-hander Rob Kaminsky made it three straight good starts for Akron behind a resounding 18-2 victory last Friday. Granted the luxury of plenty of early run support, Kaminsky went six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He earned the easy win, pulling his record to an even 7-7 on the season with a 3.50 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.
He has struck out 32 batters over his last six starts (36 2/3 innings). He did not give up an earned run in his previous two starts on July 31 and August 5.
PEOPLES ENDS WINLESS DROUGHT
Michael Peoples was on the mound on Thursday night and paced the RubberDucks to a big 5-0 win to sweep the strong Trenton Thunder on their home field.
Peoples, who had gone 0-2 in four starts since his last win, bounced back from a couple of rough outings with a solid six scoreless innings on the mound for Akron. He allowed four hits, walked a pair, and struck out five to improve to 9-6 at Akron and 10-6 combined for his season.
Akron released right-handed pitcher Lendy Castillo last Friday after a short stay with the club.
Signed by the Indians to a minor league deal on July 31, just days after his release by the Double-A Erie Seawolves, Castillo was assigned to the RubberDucks. The 27-year-old made just two appearances for Akron, both on the road. He allowed a run on a hit and a walk in an inning of work on August 2 before he was tagged for four runs on four hits in one and two-thirds innings on August 6.
ONE OTHER MOVE
It has been a calm stretch for several of the Indians’ minor league affiliates in the transactions department and the last seven days were no different for Akron. In addition to the release of Castillo on August 12, the club received left-hander Nick Maronde from Triple-A Columbus.
Photo: David Monseur/MiLB.com