The Akron RubberDucks are the 2016 Eastern League champions after sweeping the Trenton Thunder for a third straight game on Friday, claiming a 2-1 victory on the road to bring home the title.
The RubberDucks had one-out walks in the first two innings off of Sheffield, but could not score. A third walk on the night, this one leading off by Ivan Castillo, had much better results for Akron. Greg Allen bunted him over to second on a sacrifice and Castillo moved to third on a single by Eric Stamets. Jordan Smith put the ‘Ducks on the board with an RBI grounder to short, scoring Castillo to make it 1-0. With another runner standing at third and two outs, Nellie Rodriguez struck out looking to end the threat.
Home field was advantageous one last time for the RubberDucks on Wednesday as Akron used a three-run third inning to defeat the Trenton Thunder 4-2 in Game 2 of the Eastern League Championship Series.
Rob Kaminsky started for the ‘Ducks and retired eight straight to start the night before two-out singles from Sebastian Valle and Tyler Wade. Kaminsky buckled down, striking out his fourth batter of the night as the scoreless game moved to the bottom of the third.
Four straight hits from Akron in the bottom half off of Will Carter opened up the game for the ‘Ducks. Singles from Greg Allen and Yan Gomes to start the frame set up a run-scoring opportunity for Jordan Smith, who got his second hit of the game with a double to right, scoring Allen for the early lead. Nellie Rodriguez followed with the game-changing hit, scoring a pair with a single to center to give Akron a 3-0 lead.
Akron’s Eric Haase was the hero of Sunday night, clinching an Eastern League Western Division Series win with a walk-off single in the tenth inning. He still had a little magic left in that bat of his on Tuesday as his grand slam in the fifth inning powered the RubberDucks over the visiting Trenton Thunder by a 6-3 final in Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series.
Trenton jumped on top with two runs in the first against Akron starter Michael Peoples. Tyler Wade singled to start the game but was picked off by Peoples at first. Dustin Fowler singled, but was erased on a force out at second on a grounder to short by Miguel Andujar. Nearly out of the inning, Mike Ford homered to right, scoring Andujar to make it a 2-0 Trenton lead.
Akron could not score in the second after getting back-to-back two-out walks from Haase and Eric Stamets, but they did not miss out on a scoring opportunity in the third as they tied the game against Trenton starter Ronald Herrera. Ivan Castillo and Greg Allen singled to start the inning, putting runners on the corners for Yan Gomes. The rehabbing Indians catcher singled on a liner to center to score Castillo and move the speedster Allen to third. Jordan Smith grounded into a force at second, but Allen scored on the play to make it a 2-2 game.
Eric Haase’s one-out RBI-single in the tenth inning ended a dominating pitching performance by both Akron and Altoona as the RubberDucks defeated the Curve 1-0 to win the Eastern League Western Division Championship on Sunday night.
An incredible pitcher’s duel between Altoona’s Brandon Waddell and Akron’s Nick Pasquale took place on the mound in Akron as the pitchers matched pitch for pitch, out for out, with the RubberDucks’ righty coming away with the slightly longer outing in the impressive display from both young arms.
Five runs batted in from left fielder Mike Papi were more than enough for the Akron RubberDucks as they defeated the Altoona Curve 9-4 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Eastern League Western Division Series from Canal Park on Friday night.
Akron took an early lead and doubled that score the following inning off of Altoona’s Nick Kingham. Nellie Rodriguez singled to left and went to second on a single from Papi. Kingham struck out Eric Haase swinging before walking Eric Stamets to load the bases. Mark Mathias came through with the big hit to put Akron on the board, driving home Rodriguez and Papi on the play. Mathias was thrown out trying to stretch it to a two-base hit and Ivan Castillo grounded out with a runner on third, but Akron was on top, 2-0.
Altoona jumped out to an early lead and used a strong pitching performance from starter Clay Holmes and three relievers to shut down Akron, 3-1, in Game 2 of the Eastern League Western Division Series on Thursday night.
The Curve had a 2-0 lead three batters into the bottom of the first inning against Akron starter Michael Peoples. Kevin Newman singled to center and scored on a double from Erich Weiss. He advanced to third on the throw to the plate, enabling him to come home himself on a sacrifice fly from Barrett Barnes to give Altoona a two-run advantage.
A six-run onslaught in the seventh inning, plus three more for good measure in the eighth, pushed the visiting Akron RubberDucks past the Altoona Curve, 12-8, in Game 1 of the Eastern League Western Division Series on Wednesday night.
Akron started fast as shortstop Eric Stamets homered with one out in the first off of right-hander Alex McRae to give the ‘Ducks the early 1-0 lead. It would not last for long, however, as Akron starter Julian Merryweather quickly loaded the bases, giving up back-to-back singles and a walk to start the bottom half of the frame. A wild pitch allowed one run to score before he locked in and struck out Edwin Espinal and Anderson Feliz swinging, but Jin-De Jhang (older brother of Merryweather’s former teammate in Lynchburg, Yu-Cheng Chang) doubled to left, scoring both base runners to give Altoona a 3-1 lead.
It’s playoff time in the minor leagues and three Indians affiliates will begin their chases for postseason crowns on Wednesday night.
The Triple-A Columbus Clippers, Double-A Akron RubberDucks, and High-A Lynchburg Hillcats all punched tickets in their respective leagues behind solid 2016 seasons. The Clippers won the International League’s West Division with an eleven-game lead at year’s end. The RubberDucks clinched a playoff berth on Sunday and won the Western Division title outright on Monday. The Hillcats won the Carolina League Northern Division first-half crown and tied the Potomac Nationals for the division’s second-half title with a 39-31 finish.
With a win on Sunday, the Akron RubberDucks clinched a playoff berth in the Eastern League playoffs and became the third Cleveland Indians’ minor league affiliate to guarantee bonus baseball this season after previous efforts from the Triple-A Columbus Clippers and the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats.
The RubberDucks took a page out of their parent club’s book on Labor Day, as Akron decided on a bullpen game with the Eastern League Western Division title on the line. With their ticket already punched for postseason play, they opted to rest their starting rotation, but instead, they stole the crown as Daniel Salters’ first Double-A home run, a two-run shot in the sixth, broke a five-all tie as the ‘Ducks held on for an 8-6 win to clinch the top spot in the division.
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…
Any chance that Bradley Zimmer breaks camp with the Cleveland Indians at the end of spring training in 2017 may come down to how well he performs in Arizona this fall.
Zimmer, the Indians’ top prospect in the farm system, was one of eight minor leaguers named by Cleveland to participate in the annual Arizona Fall League as members of the Mesa Solar Sox. Joining Zimmer in the Mesa outfield will be Double-A Akron’s Greg Allen. High-A Lynchburg’s Yu-Cheng Chang will be on the roster at short. Three relievers – Trevor Frank (Lynchburg), Cameron Hill (Akron), and David Speer (Akron) – will get additional work in the Solar Sox bullpen, while right-handed starter Michael Peoples (Akron) will also be on the roster.
Akron’s Eric Haase is also on the club as one of the taxi squad members, activated just twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
A month is not nearly enough time to analyze winners and losers of Major League trades, but after more than four weeks with him on the roster, the Cleveland Indians have to be feeling pretty good about the return that they have gotten from left-hander Andrew Miller.
Miller was not the only player moved, as the Indians had to give up four players, two of whom were top prospects in the organization, in order to acquire the services of the reliever for the rest of this season and each of the next two years.
The All-Star southpaw has been everything that the Indians could have dreamed of when they pulled the trigger on the July 31 trade that brought Miller to Cleveland.