RubberDucks feel blue on Browns night
Akron was 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Saturday.
AKRON, OH – The New Hampshire Fisher Cats have featured one of the most effective pitching staffs in the league this season. On Saturday night, the Blue Jays affiliate welcomed newly acquired Mike Lee to the fold, and the veteran right-hander fit right in.
In his first appearance for the Fisher Cats since coming to the Blue Jays organization in a cash-trade with the Diamondbacks on August 6th, Lee dealt six shutout innings in a 5-2 Fisher Cats win over the Akron RubberDucks before a sellout crowd of 8,118 at Canal Park.
Named a mid-season all-star earlier this season in the AA Southern League while pitching for Mobile, Lee (1-0) scattered five hits, walked two and struck out five in his first start. The 6-foot-7 right-hander showcased a 94-mph fastball and sharp breaking ball, which kept the Akron hitters off balance. The RubberDucks twice got a pair of runners on base against Lee, once in the first and again in the fifth, but he managed to wriggle off the hook both times.
The RubberDucks (65-56) saw a five-game winning streak come to an end, but thanks to a Portland win in extra innings at Richmond, they remain just 2 ½ games out of first in the EL West with 21 games to play. Third-place Bowie gained a game on Akron with a 6-4 win at Trenton, and now stand 5 ½ games behind the RubberDucks. The top two teams in the division earn post-season berths.
The Fisher Cats (58-62) took a 3-0 lead in the fourth against Shawn Morimando (1-4). A two-out, solo homer by Mike McDade started a string of four straight, two-out hits that resulted in a team cycle. Mike Crouse followed with a double, Yusef Carter chipped in a run-scoring single, and Matt Newman finished off the inning with a RBI triple to make it 3-0.
Morimando allowed two more runs in the fifth, as the Cats took a 5-0 lead. His own fielding error made one of the runs unearned. Again, both runs scored against the lefty after two were already out. It was the fourth straight loss for Morimando, who worked 6 1/3 innings and gave up 10 hits.
The RubberDucks did manage to wreck the shutout bid with two runs in the seventh against reliever Rich Bleier. Justin Toole, who had three singles, scored on a wild pitch, and Erik Gonzalez drove in Ollie Linton with a grounder to make it 5-2. Akron was 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Toole lined the third of his three hits in the ninth inning with one out off Cats closer Gregory Infante, but the righty got the next two batters to record his 18th save.
Notes: The RubberDucks wore special Cleveland Browns jerseys for the Browns night promotion. The crowd of 8,118 was the 10th sellout of the season. Catcher Alex Lavisky was 2-for-4, and has a nine-game hitting streak. Louis Head retired all five batters he faced after relieving Morimando in the seventh. Jordan Smith made a fine, sliding catch in the fourth, taking a hit away from New Hampshire’s Jorge Flores.
The RubberDucks will wrap the series and homestand on Sunday afternoon at 2:05. RHP Duke von Schamann (6-6, 3.83) is the scheduled starter for Akron, while RHP Casey Lawrence (9-5, 2.85) is expected to get the ball for Fisher Cats. The game will be broadcast on WARF 1350 AM and online at www.AkronRubberDucks.com.
The Akron RubberDucks are the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The 2014 season is the 18th since moving to Canal Park and the first as the RubberDucks. For more information, including official team merchandise, go to www.AkronRubberDucks.com or call 330-253-5151. Fans may also follow the team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AkronRubberDucks and Twitter at @AkronRubberDuck.