Kip’s Homer not Enough as the Ducks Fall

Akron, Ohio

On a Beautiful Wednesday Night, The Akron Rubberducks hosted the Hartford Yardgoats in game 2 of their three game series. In Game one, the Rubberducks would win 5-2, pushing their record to 52-54. On this night, Lefthander Matt Whitehouse would start for the Ducks, who going into the game was 6-5 with a 4.22 ERA. He was opposed by Konner Wade a Right Hander for the Yardgoats, who was 5-6 with a 4.36 ERA. The Big news for this game going into it was that Jason Kipnis who is still recovering from a hamstring injury, was playing and starting at second for his second rehab start, his first starting at second though.

It didn’t take long for the Yardgoats to get on the board. Two batters in they had a 1-0 lead after a walk to the leadoff hitter then Shortstop Brendan Rodgers hit a double to right center scoring the runner from first. After two strike outs from Whitehouse, he would hit the number 5 batter and the next batter Josh Fuentes doubled right over the third base bag bringing in the second run of the game. Whitehouse would get out of the jam with a strike out on the next batter he faced. In the Rubberducks half inning, it was a quick three up three down, as Kipnis would ground to second in his first at bat of the night.

After a very quite second inning from both teams, Brendan Rodgers lead off the third inning with a Homerun to left field. Giving the Yardgoats a 3-0 lead. Then after a bunt single by Drew Weeks, he would then be thrown out by catcher Francisco Mejia trying to steal second base. After a fielder choice to get the second out of the inning, Josh Fuentes would strike again with an RBI single to push the lead to 4-0. In the bottom of the third, Akron finally got on the board after a Luigi Rodriguez double and a Greg Allen Sac fly to bring him home. Then Jason Kipnis would cut the lead in half with a big solo homerun to right field. Making the score 4-2.

Whitehouse’s rough night counited in the top of the fourth as the first batter Stephen Cardullo hit a homerun to left field giving Horford he 5-2 lead. After a double and single by the Yardgoats, Whitehouse struck out Rodgers then a run came in after a ground out to Yu Chang at short. Making it 6-2 Hartford. Akron would respond though in the bottom of the fourth. Bobby Bradley would lead off with a walk then Chang would hit a triple into the left field corner. Then on the next pitch Mike Papi would single home Chang making the score 6-4 in favor of Hartford. After a hit by Rodriguez putting runners at the corners, Joe Sever hit a bullet off the leg of the Pitcher Wade driving in Rodriguez and making the score 6-5.

As the game headed to the fifth, Whitehouses’s night was over. He went 4 innings giving up 6 runs on 8 hits while striking out 6 and hitting 2 batters. He was relieved by Right Hander D.J Brown. And Brown would have a 1-2-3 inning. Striking out one in the process, keeping the score at 6-5. In the bottom of the fifth, Kipnis opened up the inning with a ground out to second baseman. Mejia and Bradley would follow with two quick outs for themselves. Keeping the score at 6-5.

After inning 7, not much had happened after the 5th inning, Kipnis would come out of the game after going 1-4 with a Homerun and the score the same Hartford leading 6-5. In the top of the seventh, new pitcher Jacob Lee gave up three straight hits to open up the inning allowing Fuentes to score who doubled pushing Hartford’s lead to 7-5. After Lee loaded the bases with a walk, Ashley Graeter Tripled to deep center, clearing the bases and Horford really opened up their lead to 10-5. That lead would hld for the last 2 innings of play.

For Akron, Jason Kipnis finish 1-4 with a Homerun. Luigi Rodriguez finished 2-4 with a double. And Francisco Mejia went 0-4. The lose puts Arkon at 52-55 for the season.

Kluber Debuts, Offense Shines as RubberDucks blast BaySox 10-0

 

Cleveland Indians Pitcher Corey Kluber makes his rehab start versus the Bowie BaySox

AKRON, Ohio — Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber served the first night of his rehab assignment for the Akron RubberDucks tonight as they defeated the Bowie BaySox 10-0. This marks the RubberDucks fifth consecutive win moves them to 22-21 and above .500 for the first time this season. The loss for the BaySox moves them down to .500 at 24-24.

It was a near sellout crowd at Canal Park to see the former Cy Young winner on the mound. Kluber threw 69 pitches in five innings while only allowing two base hits, the only hits the RubberDucks defense allowed the entire game.
Aside from Kluber taking the mound, the story of the night was the RubberDucks offense which exploded for ten runs in seven innings.

After three scoreless innings to start the game, left fielder Dorssys Paulino singled to center-field to bring in the RubberDucks first run of the night in the fourth. They reeled in two more runs in the following inning off a Francisco Mejia single and a Bobby Bradley double to extend their lead to 3-0.

Catcher Francisco Mejia was one of six RubberDucks to score in the 10-0 win over the BaySox.

The seventh inning proved to be the most prolific of the night for the RubberDucks on offense. First baseman Bobby Bradley led in his second runner of the night with a base single. Mejia then scored off a sacrificing fly ball. Three more runs were scored in the seventh inning via hit singles from first baseman Tyler Krieger and outfielder Jordan Smith, while second baseman Mark Mathias doubled to left-field to bring Smith home for the fifth score of the inning.

The win not only moves the RubberDucks above .500 for the first time this season but also ties them with the BaySox for second place in the Eastern League Division. The two teams will face each other three more times from Saturday through Monday before the RubberDucks travel to Pittsburgh for a series versus the first-place Altoona Curve on Tuesday.

Photos by Khalil Smith

Thunder Blank RubberDucks

The RubberDucks (12-17) were in action against the Trenton Thunder (19-11) on Tuesday night, and would fall to Yankees’ affiliate 8-0.
Billy McKinney and Matt Snyder would hit back to back singles in the second inning for Trenton, and McKinney would score on a wild pitch by Akron starting pitcher D.J. Brown to get the Thunder on the board first.

 

The top prospect in the Yankees’ system, Glyber Torres, started the top of the third inning with a single to left. Mike Ford would then walk, and both him and Torres would score on a Miguel Andujar double down the left field line, making the score 3-0 Thunder.

 

Later in the inning, McKinney would get involved once again with a double off the right field wall. He would also score on a Mike Snyder single, making the score 5-0 Trenton.

 

Akron could not get anything going at the plate, as they failed to net even a single run against the Thunder, who are currently leading the Eastern side of the Eastern League.

 

Trenton would continue to pour it on, already leading 7-0, when Thairo Estrada would find the right field stands for a home run.

 

Thunder starter Yefry Ramirez was dominate in his five innings of work, striking out 10 Ducks, while only allowing two hits.

 

It was a rough night for Brown, who only lasted four innings, giving up seven runs (six earned). The rough outing pushes his season ERA to 9.95.

 

 

The RubberDucks will be back in action again tomorrow against the Thunder. First pitch will be at 10:35 a.m. at Canal Park.

The following is what RubberDucks Manager Mark Budzinski had to say following the game.

The Ducks get an “Obi-Win” in Canal on Star Wars Night

The force was with the Rubber Ducks on Star Wars night at Canal Park on a cold rainy Thursday in Akron. The Ducks opened their four game home series against the Altoona Curve, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Altoona’s starting pitcher Brandon Waddell had the Ducks off balance early and often piling up six strikeouts in only three innings of work. Akron didn’t register a hit until the fourth inning when Bobby Bradley banged a triple off of the left field wall. It was a bullpen night for the Curve, and kept the Ducks at bay for the majority of the middle innings until the seventh when Akron’s catcher Eric Haase ripped a two RBI triple to give Akron the lead. Cameron Hill relieved Luis Lugo and pitched 2 and 2/3’s of scoreless ball to maintain the lead for the Ducks. Akron gave up the lead in the top of the ninth via sacrifice fly to even the nights proceedings at two a piece, and there was a collective groan from the fans that stuck around as the precipitation picked up in Canal. Rubber Duck’s designated hitter Joe Sever played the role of Luke Skywalker and saved the day for Akron, sending the fans home happy when he blasted a ball into the right center field gap for a walk off win. The Rubber Ducks improve to 11-14 on the season and play the Curve (15-10) again tomorrow night in Canal Park at 6:35pm.

2017 Marks First “Normal” Season for RubberDucks

   Last season, the Akron RubberDucks had another tremendous year in attendance, saw numerous highly touted prospects play ball at Canal Park, and captured the 2016 Eastern League Championship. Quite the year for any Minor-League Baseball team. As for 2017? Well, it’ll be the RubberDucks most challenging season yet.

I don’t mean that strictly from a baseball or talent point of view. Believe me, Akron will have plenty of talent out there on the diamond, particularly on the offensive side of things. Francisco Mejia, the Indians’ top prospect according to minorleaguebaseball.com, will start at catcher for the RubberDucks and rightfully so after putting together a 60-game hit streak last year in A level ball. The other 3 biggest names to look out for are Greg Allen, Bobby Bradley, and Tyler Krieger. Allen was a sixth-pick in 2014 with great speed and a knack for getting on base. Bradley, the youngest of the group at just 20 years of age, adds a lot of pop to the lineup, as he accounted for 29 home runs and 102 RBI’s last season in A ball. Krieger, a stellar defensive second basemen who is oh-so-reliable on the infield, also has a solid bat with decent power and looks to be a great two-way player for Akron this year.

So, what makes this season so challenging for Akron? Well, I had a chance to sit down with Akron RubberDucks Director of Public and Media Relations Adam Liberman who gave me a rundown on what to look ahead to for this year. According to Liberman, this will be the first “normal” season the organization has faced since its name change to “RubberDucks” from “Aeros” back in October of 2013. “We don’t have an All-Star game, we don’t have new parts of the stadium, we don’t have an identity change”. For those who don’t know, the RubberDucks had tons of renovations done to Canal Park including, a Tiki Terrace in right field to replace the bleachers and Duck Row out in “Fowl Territory” that features waiter/waitress service for fans in the first few rows in the left field corner.  Last summer the stadium also hosted the 2016 Eastern League All-Star game which was a huge success.

This year, the RubberDucks will have to do a little bit more to continually get sellouts and high attendance rates that they were accustomed to last year. So far, they’re off to a great start promotionally. Nightly promotions will once again return to the ballpark including my personal favorite, “Giveaway Saturday’s”, where the first 1000 fans receive an awesome bobble-head or some sort of baseball-oriented giveaway. Some new promotions will also be featured, including a post-game rock concert later in the year.

Of course, what is some RubberDucks baseball without some crazy food!? Extreme Food Menu items will be back again and better than ever. Classics such as “The Screamer” and the “Nice 2 Meat You Burger” will once again be back, along with some new originals. The “Notorious P.I.G.” is Akron’s new stacked-to-the-top pulled pork sandwich that is guaranteed to leave fans NOT wanting more (get it?). The “Yardbird” is the other new extreme item this year and is a sandwich featuring apple fritters as the buns, with cream cheese, turkey, bacon, and more stuffed inside! The Game Grill + Bar, attached to the stadium out behind right field, will once again be open and offering new dining options for fans. The most delectable looking are the new Mega Fries, featuring Cajun fries and BBQ brisket. Of course, for those not looking to enter a food coma, the standard hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, hamburgers, etc. will all be available.

There really is something for everyone at the ballpark this summer. “Thirsty Thursday’s” are great for those of us college kids on a budget, featuring $1 and $2 beers every Thursday. “Family FUNday” is also a great chance for parents to play catch on the field before the game with their kids and get autographs in front of the team shop every Sunday. Those days also allow kids to run the bases after the game! Even for those non-humans out there looking to enjoy some baseball, a couple “Bark in the Park” nights allow fans to bring their canine companions to the game!

While 2017 looks to be the first “normal” season the RubberDucks have faced since their identity change, they will be looking to make it very special for every fan at Canal Park this summer. “Quakron” has packed Canal Park all season the past three summers and this year looks to be no different. Check out my interview with Adam Liberman below for more on this year’s upcoming Akron RubberDuck’s season!

https://soundcloud.com/user-770818477/adam-liberman-akron-rubberducks-2017-pre-season-interview