Kaminsky carries Crushers to 3-0 win
Shutout draws Lake Erie closer to .500
“Kaminsky has to answer the bell and put up zeroes.”
Those were manager Jeff Isom’s words after the Crushers’ Tuesday night win when talking about Wednesday night’s starter.Alex Kaminsky did exactly that, throwing seven shutout innings against the ThunderBolts en route to a 3-0 Crushers win. Kaminsky improves to 3-4 on the season after allowing just three hits, one walk, and one hit batsman. The Crushers are now 19-21.
“The outing by Rein [yesterday] kinda led the way for us. Kaminsky ended up on his coattails and ended up throwing a heck of a game for us. He threw a lot of strikes today. His fastball was very good. He kept them off-balance, threw a breaking ball when he had to. When he’s doing that, he gives us a great opportunity to win.”
Kaminsky echoed his manager's statement that throwing strikes and a quality fastball were the factors that allowed him to be successful and credited a surprising source of inspiration.
“It’s weird because I watched Homer Bailey’s last inning last night,” Kaminsky said referring to the no-hitter thrown by the Cincinnati Reds’ starter on Tuesday night. “I actually did some research on how he did. He threw 70 percent first pitch strikes, so I kinda tried to emulate what he did last night. Tried to go out there with the same attitude as what he did and pound the zone with my fastball. Luckily I was able to do that.”
He also credited Matt Rein, saying that he was trying to do one better than his teammate after his masterful performance.
Mickey Jannis came on in the top of the eighth inning and ended up with a six-out save to complete the shutout. He allowed one hit, one walk, and struck out two. Jannis remained on the mound for the ninth in place of closer Dale Dickerson.
“[Jannis] had a good one, two, three inning right there. It’s like, alright, let’s let him roll out there,” Isom said.
It’s also a possibility, according to Isom, that Jannis could find himself in the starting rotation. The Crushers need a fifth starter for Saturday’s game and Jannis could be the guy.
“It’s like, alright, let’s try to use this maybe as a bullpen,” Isom said. “We’re still looking for our fifth starter.”
Kaminsky and Jannis combined for the second straight shutout of the Bolts offense.
Right-hander Daniel Cropper started the game for the Bolts and pitched a respectable seven innings, giving up just the three runs on seven hits, striking out two and walking one. Cropper was charged with the loss and fell to 4-2 on the year.
The Crushers got a run in the first off of Cropper, even though the Bolts starter held them hitless. Kevin Berard was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He responded by stealing second, was moved over to third on a groundout by Max Casper, and scored on a groundout from Andrew Davis to give the Crushers a 1-0 lead. For the second straight night, it would be all the Crushers needed.
Max Casper added another run in the third with his two-out double. Juan Sanchez scored after he got on base with a double of his own two batters earlier. Sanchez was the star performer on offense; he went 3-for-3 with two singles and a double. He drove in the Crushers third run with his RBI single in the seventh.
“Up and down the lineup, it could be any of those guys on any given night,” Isom said. “Give Sanchez credit, he’s put in a lot of time in the cage. Especially today, he and Quiles were in the cage for at least an hour. Quiles hopefully got Sanchez back on track.
“The Latin guys are getting heated up right now. [Hidalgo was] 5-for-5 last night, [Sanchez] 3-for-3 today.”
The Bolts had opportunities, but couldn’t cash in on them because of sound defense from the Crushers. They got there leadoff man on in the fifth inning, but the inning ended on a 5-4-3 double play, started by Anderson Hidalgo, who made just his second start of the season at third base.
The Bolts ran themselves out of a scoring opportunity in the sixth. Center fielder Nathan Pittman doubled with one out, but was erased trying to stretch it into a triple after a nifty grab from Hidalgo on a tough hop. It was the second key play made by Hidalgo, who is normally the Crushers designated hitter. Hidalgo, however, has told his manager from the beginning that he can’t stand the position and wants to play the field.
“He’s said from day one, ‘I’ve never really DHed before. I don’t like it. It drives me crazy. I have to sit between my at bats and think about things.’ He’s obviously shown that he’s a capable hitter in this league so we’re like, ‘alright, let’s get him in the field, let him get his feet wet a little bit.’”
The Bolts' final opportunity came in the ninth inning with two outs, when the third and fourth hitters walked and singled respectively against Jannis. Jannis recovered by striking out Bolts’ leftfielder Evan Button looking.
Dave Middendorf will be on the mound trying to follow up the brilliance of Rein and Kaminsky.
“He’s just got to go and pitch his type of game,” Isom said. “That’s all I’ll tell him. He understands the implications of that game, getting the sweep, getting closer to .500. He just has to pitch his own game.”
The Crushers continue to inch closer to the .500 mark and can pull to within one game of the breakeven point with a win tomorrow to earn a sweep of the Bolts.
Middendorf (5-3, 2.78) will be opposed by Travis Tingle (3-2, 3.40). Following the series with the Bolts, the Crushers will welcome in the Rockford Aviators for a three-game, weekend series.
Rucinski allowed just one earned run on six hits (only one multi-hit inning) seven k's, 0 BB through seven strong frames. Nick Grim and Matt Frahm closed the game in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
Prior to Thursday's matinee show, only two Aviators had accumulated four hits in a game this season. Brandon Newton and Matt Greener doubled that total after they each tallied four hits on the afternoon. Jeff Kremer scored three runs for Rockford and reached base safely in four of his five plate appearances. Greener led the way with four RBIs on the afternoon.
The Aviators finish the home stand with a 5-4 record against Joliet, Normal and Evansville and they will open a 3-game weekend series in Avon, Ohio against the Lake Erie Crushers tomorrow night. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m.