When the Akron RubberDucks have not been dodging rain drops, they have played with mixed results. To be fair, when six games have been rained out or suspended over the course of the first three weeks of a month, it may be hard to find a rhythm on the diamond.
Rains wiped away contests last weekend, washing out the rest of the ‘Ducks’ series after getting a pair of wins to open the five-game series from Binghamton. The team returned home soggy to Canal Park and performed well, taking two of three from the Richmond Flying Squirrels. After dropping a 3-1 decision in the opener last Monday, they put up 6-1 and 7-5 victories to take the series and inch within a game of the .500 mark. That would be as close to an even record as they would get as their tough series in Hartford against the Yard Goats ended in three consecutive losses to wrap up the weekend. Akron was dealt one-run losses on both Friday and Saturday before a 5-2 final in the finale.
The three straight losses moved the ‘Ducks further away from their pursuit of the .500 mark as they are now four games back of even at 17-21. The losing streak also cost them some ground in the Eastern League’s Western Division, where they sit in fourth place, six games behind the front-running Altoona Curve. They will face that same Curve team for four straight on the road this week, with a chance to gain, or lose, a lot of ground in the division.
In other tales from downtown Akron:
MEJIA HOMERS IN RETURN
Francisco Mejia, top Indians prospect and a member of the 40-man roster, made his return from his 7-day disabled list stint after dealing with groin soreness for nearly two weeks.
He celebrated his name being back on the Akron lineup card with a pair of hits on Saturday, including a double and his second home run of the season. Not to be outdone, he added a solo homer in Sunday’s loss to Hartford in a 1-for-2 day at the plate.
Mejia is now hitting .307 on the season with a .344 on-base percentage. The 21-year-old switch-hitting backstop has appeared in 23 games for Akron this year.
Outfielder Mike Papi’s efforts at the plate this season have involved a lot of streaking.
The fourth-year pro has put up one of the better efforts of his brief career through the first month and a half of the campaign and has really come on strong over the last month. He ended April on a five-game hitting streak and after one hitless game, put together another ten-game tear for much of May.
That streak came to a close with an 0-for-1 day in Richmond on Tuesday, but he was intentionally walked in the contest to keep his on-base streak alive. He added another three-game mini-streak to close out the week before his 14-game on-base streak ended Sunday with an 0-for-4 against Hartford.
Second baseman Tyler Krieger has had some luck putting together hitting streaks during his brief professional career and this season is no different for the 23-year-old former fourth round pick.
He saw his seven-game hitting streak come to a close in game two of the three-game set at home against Richmond last Tuesday. After an 0-for-8 stretch with five strikeouts over two games, he put bat back on ball with hits in each of the three games against Hartford. He doubled in both of the first two games of that series and was 4-for-13 overall with two doubles, a walk, and two runs scored in the weekend road set.
TWO PERFECT DAYS
Outfielder Dorssys Paulino ended his week with seven hits in 13 at bats (.538) in the finale against Richmond and all three games against Hartford. The modest hitting streak included two games during which Paulino lived on base.
In last Wednesday’s game with the Flying Squirrels, Paulino was 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and added two more walks, reaching base safely in all four plate appearances. The left fielder would repeat the feat on Saturday in Hartford, when he had two singles, a double, a walk, and one run batted in while getting on base again in all four trips to the dish. His second perfect day was only marred by a caught stealing.
MATHIAS MAKING MOVES AT THE PLATE
After missing the first month of the season and having little to show for his first two weeks of action, infielder Mark Mathias is starting to find his way at the plate for the ‘Ducks.
He hit his first home run of the season last Tuesday against Richmond. He added a pair of singles, a walk, and an RBI in the series finale. He was 3-for-11 in the series in Hartford with singles in each game to extend his hitting streak to five straight, helping to boost his season batting average by 99 points.
He has also been a magnet for the baseball this season, as he was hit by two pitches in the past week to give him four on the season in just 13 games.
Yu-Cheng Chang extended his team-leading home run mark to nine with three blasts in a two-game span this past week.
In the final game of the series against Richmond, Chang homered to center to lead off the third inning to give the ‘Ducks a 3-1 lead at the time. They would go on to win by a 7-5 final.
After the off day on Thursday, the 21-year-old shortstop got back to work at the plate with a two-hit day and wasted no time, hitting the second of three straight home runs by Akron in the first inning against Hartford. He flied out to end the second, but he led off the fifth with his second homer of the game to break a 5-5 tie. Akron would tack on another run in the seventh, but the Goats scored a run in the seventh and two in the eighth and went on to win, 8-7.
In 36 games this season, Chang is hitting just .192 but has five doubles, two triples, nine homers, and a team-leading 21 RBI.
BROWN’S QUALITY START NOT ENOUGH, LANDS ON DL
D.J. Brown made his best start of the season last Monday, but it was not enough as the RubberDucks fell to the Flying Squirrels, 3-1.
Brown took his third loss in as many outings, but he pitched a season-high six and two-thirds innings in the process in a quality effort. He struck out five and walked just one, but allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits. Two runs came across in the third inning on three straight one-out singles before a groundout knocked in a run. A passed ball by catcher Eric Haase allowed an unearned run to cross. In the seventh, Brown retired the first two batters on the ground before back-to-back singles ended his outing. Reliever Dylan Baker allowed a pinch-hit RBI-single for the third run charged to Brown.
(Editor’s note: Brown has been placed on the 7-day disabled list by Akron on Monday afternoon, retroactive to 5/20, with a left oblique strain.)
HAASE HEATING UP DURING ON-BASE STREAK
Haase is making a living on the base paths for the ‘Ducks over the last two weeks, reaching base safely in eight straight games. Each of the last seven have come via hit.
The hitting streak portion of his on-base streak started at Canal Park against Trenton on May 10, when he was 1-for-3 at the plate with a homer and two runs batted in. Hitting just .196 at the start of the hot stretch, he has boosted his season average to .247 with hits in his next six games, including a solo homer on Friday at Hartford in his second two-hit game of the streak.
ON THE MOVE
There was plenty of movement on the Akron roster over the weekend.
On Saturday, right-handers Neil Holland (Columbus) and Leandro Linares (Lynchburg) and left-hander David Speer (Columbus) joined the RubberDucks bullpen. Holland and Speer had been gone just one day to assist the Columbus pitching staff. Linares worked two and two-thirds scoreless innings on Saturday, allowing just a walk while striking out three in his Double-A debut.
On Friday, the team also received left-hander Matt Whitehouse back from Columbus. He had been with the Clippers since last Tuesday.