RubberDucks manager David Wallace joked after Monday’s 4-0 victory over Binghamton that he didn’t mind Francisco Lindor being thrown out at third base with no outs in the first inning because he knew they were going to throw a shutout.
While that obviously was said in jest, it’s not too far from being believable with how well Akron has pitched this year.
The Ducks (13-11) entered the game with a 3.06 team ERA, second in the Eastern League. After nine innings of shutout baseball on Monday, that number dropped to 2.93.
Big right-hander Will Roberts got the start for the Ducks and turned in his best outing of the year. Roberts (3-2) threw six scoreless innings, striking out a season-high seven batters while allowing just three hits and a walk.
Roberts consistently stayed down in the zone with his fastball, but Wallace was more impressed with the usage of his curveball. The organization has been trying to develop the curve so he can use it more often while behind in the count as well as when he’s ahead, when you more typically see a pitcher use it.
“He’s always been able to throw it for strikes,” Wallace said. “Throwing strikes has never really been an issue for him. The curveball is something that we’re trying to develop to where he can throw it more, either leading off batters or being able to throw it behind in the count. When they’re in hitter’s counts, they’re not going to be sitting there waiting on it, so if he can throw it for a strike it’ll be a good way for him to get back into the count.”
Roberts was backed up by his bullpen, which has been excellent all year.
The bullpen worked three scoreless innings, striking out seven batters and allowing just one base runner on a single.
Enosil Tejeda struck out two in the seventh, Shawn Armstrong struck out the side in the eighth and Kyle Crockett fanned two more in the ninth, extending his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 18? innings, dating back to last season.
The Ducks scored in the first inning when Tyler Naquin and Lindor led off with walks before Giovanny Urshela stayed hot with a single up the middle. The single gave Urshela his team-leading 17th RBI. Lindor tried to advance to third and was thrown out, breaking the unwritten rule of “never making the first or last out at third.”
“That was an aggressive mistake, but not a good aggressive mistake,” Wallace said. “He knows that can’t happen. All of those balls that are in front of the runner at first, we want them to make their own decision going from first to third. You don’t want to see that, but at the same time it’s a great learning experience for him. He knows he made a mistake. We like the aggressiveness but the situation didn’t call for it.”
The Mets (12-9) brought in a left-handed reliever in the bottom of the eighth to face a lefty-heavy portion of the Ducks lineup, but they handled the move well. Lefty Bryan LaHair drove in two on a double to right field, and three batters later lefty Tony Wolters added another run with an opposite-field single.
Wolters was the only Ducks player with two hits, raising his average to .288. Lindor and Urshela each reached twice on a single and a walk.