A streaky May has turned into a very even month of June for the Akron RubberDucks, who won their last two games over the weekend to take their series in New Hampshire against the Fisher Cats, ending a six-game road trip.
At 5-5 in the month and 28-30 on the season, the ‘Ducks sit in fourth place in the Eastern League Western Division, three and a half games in back of the Altoona Curve. They have been as close to even across the splits this season, putting up a 13-16 record at Canal Park, a 15-14 record on the road, and a 15-15 mark within the division.
After a day off on Monday, the RubberDucks will begin a weeklong homestand against Harrisburg and Portland. The Senators are in last place in the Western Division at 25-36, while the Sea Dogs are in fourth place in the Eastern Division with an identical record to the RubberDucks. Akron just faced Portland during the past week and all three contests were slugfests, with the RubberDucks staking 21-4 and 7-6 wins in a doubleheader on Wednesday before a 14-8 loss on Thursday.
In other “quack”ion around Canal Park:
RODRIGUEZ DOUBLES THE FUN
During last Wednesday’s doubleheader against Portland and Luigi Rodriguez had himself quite the day.
Hitting eighth and playing right field in game one, he started his day with a two-run double in the second inning to put the ‘Ducks on the board, 2-0, to start a four-run inning. He led off the fourth inning with a homer to left, his second of the year. He doubled with one out in the fifth and would step to the plate again in the inning as the 11th of 12 men to hit, singling for a season-high fourth hit. He walked in his final plate appearance in the seventh as Akron won, 21-4.
He started the second game of the double dip in the exact same spot offensively and defensively and continued to contribute. He singled in the first and doubled in the third. He reached base safely on a throwing error in the sixth and, in extra innings, hit a solo homer with one out in the eighth to deliver the game-winning run as the RubberDucks held on for a 7-6 win in the makeup of the previous day’s postponement.
His remarkable day at the plate included a 7-for-8 line with a walk, five runs scored, three doubles, two homers, and four RBI. He was not retired in any of his nine trips to the plate and the only blemish separating him from a perfect day was the Portland error.
MORE EXCELLENCE FROM MEJIA
Francisco Mejia continues to show the minor league baseball world that his bat is more than good enough to perform regularly at a high level and that he deserves every bit of his top prospect status and spot on the Indians’ 40-man roster.
The 21-year-old switch-hitting backstop hit in five straight games last week, registering two hits in three of the games and four hits in the other two. Eight of his 14 hits during the span fell for extra base hits, including three doubles and five home runs. He drove in ten runs and scored himself seven times.
He is hitting .609 with a .640 on-base percentage during his current five-game stretch, boosting his already high season average of .325 all the way to .369. He is the Eastern League’s top hitter with that mark and his .412 on-base percentage for the season trails Wyatt Mathisen (Altoona) by just one-thousandth of a point.
Mejia is also tops in the league in slugging (.631) and OPS (1.043).
PANNONE PERFORMING WELL
Left-hander Thomas Pannone’s impressive season continued on Sunday afternoon as he fired his fourth consecutive quality start and earned his second win with the ‘Ducks and fourth overall this season in defeating the Fisher Cats on the road.
Given an early 2-0 lead through the first inning and a half, Pannone retired the first four before walking a batter and giving up a double that cut his lead in half. After the two-base hit, he would retire ten straight batters before a two-out walk in the fifth. He allowed one more base runner in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out single. He struck out batters in each of the first five innings, including two in the fifth. He faced rehabbing Major Leaguer Steve Pearce three times, getting a pair of groundouts and a fly out to center.
In his last 25 innings over those four quality starts, Pannone has surrendered just two earned runs (0.72 ERA). All have come on the tails of the worst start of his season.
SEVER’S STREAK HITS 12
Joe Sever’s hot stretch at the plate continued this past week as he grew his hitting streak to a dozen games.
The streak started on May 29 with a single against Bowie and has increased ever since. It included a stretch of five straight multi-hit games from June 2 through both games of the doubleheader against Portland on June 7. He had two more multi-hit games to extend the streak to 11 and 12 games.
He has put up a .457/.510/.609 line at the plate during his 12-game streak with 17 singles, two doubles, a triple, one home run, and eight RBI. His season batting average has climbed from .235 to .297 in that stretch.
ESPARZA’S WINNING STREAK
Right-hander Matt Esparza is on a personal three-game winning streak after back-to-back road wins against Altoona and Portland in his first experiences at the Double-A level following his May 30 promotion. The wins also extended his quality start streak to four straight.
He made his first Double-A start in Altoona against the Curve on May 31 and fired eight innings of three-hit baseball, allowing a run while striking out a season-high ten batters. He followed it up with his third straight start on the road as Akron visited Portland and he was again in quality form. He lasted six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
The two wins were his first two at the Double-A level in his professional career. After starting 3-3 with a 3.26 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP at High-A Lynchburg, he has gone 2-0 in two starts for Akron with a 2.57 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP.
BRADLEY BLASTS A PAIR
While April was a bit of a struggle at times at the plate for Bobby Bradley, he put together a solid month of May, hitting .271 with a .333 on-base percentage. His homers and walks were both down in the month, but so too were his strikeouts.
After hitting just a pair of homers in May, he hit that many on Saturday in the RubberDucks’ win over the Fisher Cats. The two blasts gave him three for the month.
He flied out in the second inning, but he came up in a big spot in the third after Sever singled, Mark Mathias was hit by a pitch, and Jordan Smith walked to load the bases. Tyler Krieger hit a sacrifice fly and Mejia reloaded the bases with a single to left. Bradley came in against New Hampshire’s Sean Reid-Foley and sent a drive over the wall in right-center for a grand slam.
He would line out his next time up in the fifth, but led off the seventh with his second shot of the game and his tenth of the season.
Akron received outfielder Connor Marabell from High-A Lynchburg on Friday. It marks the third different level of the Indians farm system that the 23-year-old has played at this season. The bulk of his time had come at High-A Lynchburg, where he hit .262 in 37 games. He had also appeared in five games at Triple-A Columbus, hitting .467 in his limited time there.
Right-handed pitcher D.J. Brown was activated from the 7-day disabled list last Wednesday. After missing three weeks, he rejoined the club out of the bullpen and has made two appearances since. Righty reliever Cole Sulser moved back up to Triple-A Columbus to create room on the roster.
Indians right-hander Danny Salazar briefly joined the club last Wednesday to begin a rehab assignment, but after experiencing some inflammation and discomfort, he was shut back down and returned to Cleveland.