Peoples and Kaminsky End Strong, Playoff Push, and More in ‘Duck Tales
Bob Toth | On 04, Sep 2016
The magic number is one for the Akron RubberDucks with two games to go in the 2016 regular season as the club hopes to clinch an Eastern League Western Division crown as the season comes to a close.
The up and down season for the ‘Ducks, full of massive and frequent roster shuffles throughout the year, will be decided with a pair of games against the Bowie Baysox on Sunday and Monday. Akron (75-64), winner of three in a row and six of their last eight, is chasing Altoona (75-63), who have dropped two straight while the ‘Ducks have won two in a row to pull within a half-game of tying the Curve for the top spot in the division. The Harrisburg Senators (74-66) entered the day two games in back of Altoona and a game and a half behind Akron with an elimination number of two. The top two clubs to emerge from the Western Division will advance to the postseason. Reading and Trenton have already clinched postseason appearances in the Eastern Division.
In other RubberDucks news and notes…
NEW FACES FOR THE PLAYOFF PUSH
When the Indians rosters expanded with the start of September, the club pulled several pitchers, a catcher, and a utility man from the Triple-A Columbus Clippers’ roster. Those voids were filled in part with recruits from Akron, who headed to the center of the state to conclude the 2016 season.
Second baseman Todd Hankins made his return to the Clippers lineup after appearing in two games for the club earlier in the season. The 25-year-old infielder played in 121 games for Akron this season, hitting .221 with a .282 on-base percentage and .346 slugging mark with 16 doubles, seven triples, nine homers, and 55 RBI. He also stole 18 bases in 24 attempts.
Nick Maronde, a 26-year-old left-handed reliever who has spent his season bouncing back and forth between the two rosters, relocated again to Columbus to close out the year. He was 0-1 with a 2.19 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 21 games for Akron this season and had appeared in 17 games for Columbus earlier in the year.
Catcher Jeremy Lucas, an Eastern League All-Star this season, got called up to replace Adam Moore in the Columbus catching mix. He appeared in 95 games for the ‘Ducks this season, hitting .252 with a .350 OBP. He had 21 doubles, a triple, a dozen homers, and drove in 48 on the year with Akron.
Second baseman Mark Mathias was promoted from High-A Lynchburg to Akron on Thursday to assist with the roster holes. The 22-year-old second-year pro skipped the Class-A Lake County portion of his professional experience to start with the Hillcats in his first full season in the Indians farm system. He responded by hitting .274 with a .359 OBP with 39 doubles and 60 RBI while being named a Carolina League Post-season All-Star by the league at second base. Mathias was the Indians’ third round pick in the 2015 June amateur draft. He showed his gratitude for his promotion with the game-deciding hit, an RBI-double in the sixth, in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Bowie.
Jordan Milbrath, a right-handed pitcher, was also assigned to Akron on Thursday. He worked in 41 games with Lynchburg this season, posting a 3-5 record with a 5.43 ERA, a 1.58 WHIP, and four saves in six opportunities before landing on the seven-day disabled list on August 19.
Catcher Alex Monsalve filled the spot vacated by Lucas behind the plate for Akron. He was hitting .219 with Lynchburg in 21 games at the time of the promotion. He has appeared in one game at Columbus and 17 games in Akron this season.
Left-handed reliever David Speer was added on Thursday after a strong campaign with Lynchburg. He was 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP for the Hillcats in 39 games, making one start and earning three saves in five chances. The 24-year-old southpaw also appeared in two games with Columbus and a game in August with Akron.
Indians’ catcher Yan Gomes was sent to Akron on Friday to begin a short rehab assignment with the club while recovering from a separated right shoulder.
He went 2-for-3 with a single, a double, one run batted in, and two runs scored in his first appearance while working as the team’s designated hitter. He was scheduled to start for the ‘Ducks again on Sunday night.
KAMINSKY CONCLUDES SEASON WITH SIXTH STRAIGHT WIN
Rob Kaminsky really lived a tale of two seasons for Akron this year.
Prior to the All-Star break, the 22-year-old lefty was 4-5 with a 4.14 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 15 games while spending some time on the disabled list. He put together a 3-2 record with a 2.45 ERA in six starts in July before posting a perfect 5-0 record in five starts with a 1.78 EA and 1.09 WHIP in August. He allowed three runs on five hits in his final regular season start on Saturday to earn his sixth consecutive win.
For the year, he was 11-7 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 25 starts.
PEOPLES MAKES IT FOUR STRAIGHT
Starter Michael Peoples made it four straight wins in as many outings on Friday with his victory over Bowie.
The 24-year-old right-hander fired seven innings of one-run baseball, allowing nine hits and a walk but minimizing the damage. He struck out one while earning his fourth straight win and his 12th of the season with Akron. Combined with a win at Columbus in a spot start, Peoples is 13-6 on the year in 28 starts with a 3.65 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.
HEAD’S SCORELESS STREAK HITS 12 STRAIGHT GAMES
Reliever Louis Head, an Eastern League All-Star this season, has not allowed a run since July 27.
In 12 appearances since that game, Head has worked 15 2/3 scoreless frames, allowing just six hits and one walk while striking out 17 batters.
He is 2-1 on the year in 45 games with a 2.66 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, and six saves in seven opportunities.
PAPI PUTS TOGETHER A STREAK
Outfielder Mike Papi hit in six straight games before going hitless with three strikeouts on Friday against Bowie. He hit solo homers in back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday. The homer was part a three-hit game to open his September.
Joe Sever’s five-game hitting streak and Eric Stamets’ six-game streak came to an end with hitless days at the plate on Friday. Outfielder Jordan Smith extended his streak to five straight games with a three-hit game against Bowie on Saturday.
ON TO ARIZONA
Several members of the Akron roster will head to Mesa, Arizona, to participate in the Arizona Fall League in October and November. The six-week schedule will give some young prospects an opportunity to continue to develop their skills in competitive games with other talent from around the minor league circuit.
Photo: David Monseur/MiLB.com