The RubberDucks bailed out their starting pitcher in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Canal Park but couldn’t scratch across a run in the second — despite a lineup featuring Indians slugger Jason Giambi — resulting in a split with the visiting Trenton Thunder.
After warming up for an extended time Tuesday before the game was postponed because of snow and cold, Ducks starter Cody Anderson struggled in his brief outing in Wednesday’s first game before being rescued by his offense in a 4-3 victory.
“Cody just wasn’t himself out there today,” Ducks manager David Wallace said. “He was struggling finishing pitches and his pitch count ran up a little quick on him. After [Tuesday] night, we didn’t want to push it too much. I’d like to say [warming up Tuesday] didn’t bother him, but it could have.”
Although Anderson labored from the start, he held the Thunder off the board until his third and final inning, when Ben Gamel’s RBI double scored the first run of the game. Anderson gave up one run, four hits and two walks, striking out two.
But the Ducks’ bullpen held the Thunder to two more runs in the next four innings and the offense came to life.
The Ducks (6-6) scored two runs in the bottom of the inning on Joe Wendle’s run-scoring single and Bryson Myles’ sacrifice fly to get Anderson off the hook. After the Thunder (6-6) tied the score in the fourth against reliever Francisco Valera (who ended up earning the win), the Ducks scored single runs in the fourth (aided by a throwing error) and fifth (on a hit by pitch).
The Ducks held off a Thunder rally in the seventh.
After the Thunder cut the deficit to a run in reliever Giovanni Soto’s second inning of work, the left-hander danced around a leadoff walk and two errors to notch his first save of the season.
Ducks center fielder Tyler Naquin led the offense with a 2-for-4 effort that included a run scored and a bunt hit.
In the second game, Thunder starter Zach Nuding pitched a two-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over the Ducks. The right-hander was in control from the start, walking one batter and striking out five in his first win of the season.
Nuding’s standout performance overshadowed a solid outing by Ducks pitcher Joe Colon. A right-hander, Colon allowed one run — a home run by first baseman Kyle Roller — in six innings.
“I wasn’t really commanding my pitches well in the first inning, so I told myself I have to start working ahead,” Colon said through interpreter and hitting coach Rouglas Odor. “That’s what I was doing with my fastball in the second inning, trying to get ahead.”
Colon walked four, but stayed out of trouble the rest of the way — including getting out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth.
Ducks left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning, has not allowed a run in any of his 14 Double-A appearances dating back to last season.
In the midst of the pitching duel, cheers occasionally rang out from the sparse crowd when Giambi (wrapping up his rehab assignment for a rib fracture) made his way to the plate. In three at-bats, Giambi popped out to second, walked and struck out looking, going hitless in three Double-A appearances.
Although he left quickly after the game without comment, Giambi is expected to be activated from the disabled list Friday when the Indians return home for a seven-game homestand at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.