May 20, 2014-16

In 2014, the Akron Aeros changed their name to the RubberDucks. As strange as that name may seem, it i not nearly as strange as what would happen on the first three May 20ths of their time with the mallard-based nickname.

On May 20, 2014, the ‘Ducks found themselves in a scoreless game with the Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates) through four frames. In the top of the fifth, CF Tyler Naquin singled to left field to score LF Jordan Smith. Thanks to nine innings of scoreless baseball courtesy of starter Toru Murata (who earned his third individual victory in as many decisions that season), reliever Adam Miller (second hold of 2014), and closer Shawn Armstrong (seventh save of the campaign), that run held up for a 1-0 victory to improve the Akron nine’s record to 29-15.

One year later, they found themselves down 3-1 to the New Britain Rock Cats (now Hartford Yard Goats), who were in their first season as a Colorado Rockies affiliate, in the middle of the ninth inning. Smith, patrolling right field on this day, tripled to lead off the inning and scored and scored on a passed ball the next plate appearance. That plate appearance was a walk of 1B Jeremy Lucas, who would score later in the inning on a ground ball single to right by Naquin, who was again in center field and hitting leadoff, to tie the game and force extra innings. In the eleventh, 3B Yandy Diaz, who had entered the game in the ninth as a pinch hitter for starting 3B Justin Toole one plate appearance before Naquin’s game-tying hit (he walked ), ended the game with an RBI single of his own, scoring Smith with the walk off base hit.

Fast forward another 365 days and the RubberDucks are up 6-0 on the Binghamton Mets (now Rumble Ponies) through six innings. Easy evening at the Corner of State and Main, right? Not so fast. Grant Sides came in to relieve starter D.J. Brown after six shutout frames with as many strikeouts. Sides went on to alow six runs without getting a single batter out, continuing a feast-or-famine (mostly feast) trend. In twelve games, Grant had allowed nine earned runs: six on this day and three in one inning in Reading on April 27. Robbie Aviles came in and allowed one more run (as well as letting the tying run score as an inherited runner) to give the B-Mets the lead.

The Mallards of Main Street weren’t done yet, however. SS and number nine hitter Ivan Castillo doubled to start the bottom of the inning and later scored the tying run on a wild pitch. One frame later, Lucas, who was behind the plate this night, was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the eighth and later scored the go-ahead run on a two-out double by 2B Todd Hankins. Closer J.P. Feyereisen came in and closed out the game to make it three crazy victories in as many May 20ths for the Akron RubberDucks.




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