RubberDucks off to fast start to 2021 campaign

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent

AKRON – The Akron RubberDucks waited more than 600 days to get a win.

It appears that once they started amassing wins, it seems they got hooked on the feeling. With a 5-0 win Tuesday night in Erie against the host Seawolves, they elevated their record to 6-0 to kick off the year, with one game postponed due to the deluge of rainy days that plagued Northeast Ohio last week.

The cancellation of the 2020 season left a gaping hole between the 2019 campaign and the start of the current one, leaving baseball fans, players, coaches and team personnel longing for a return to the diamond.

So far, the RubberDucks have succeeded thanks in large part to a dominant pitching staff that has a Double-A-best 1.50 earned run average through six games. Their lefty-heavy starting rotation has been stalwart and they’ve won both high-scoring games and close contests, setting the table for what figures to be an exciting summer on Main Street in downtown Akron.

Second-year manager Rouglas Odor pointed not to tangible causes for the strong start, but rather to two intangible ones.

“Team chemistry and the ability to play together have been the key to the good start,” Odor said.

Developing chemistry is no easy task for a minor league team, where the roster isn’t set until just before the season and the players in the locker room may not have played with some – or even most – of their teammates before.

Factor in in-season trades and promotions to the next level of the minors and the roster continues to shift throughout the year. That the RubberDucks have gelled and are playing well this early is a harbinger of good things for the coming months. In the win over Erie, consecutive swings in the third inning – a two-run single by center fielder Alex Call and a three-run home run by Trenton Brooks – packed all of the offense needed for the night into one short, dynamic burst.

Left-hander Eli Lingos scattered three hits over the first three innings and faced just one batter over the minimum in five scoreless innings to earn his first win of the season and helped Akron to best its previous best start to a season, which came in a 5-0 run to kick off the 2016 campaign.

While news of the feat is new to Odor and a long season remains ahead, he appreciates the accomplishment in terms of what it means for the organization and underscoring the quality of players and personnel in place.

“I didn’t know it, but what we have done … it’s a team effort and I’m proud of everyone here in Akron and the whole organization of (the) Cleveland (Indians),” Odor said.

If the RubberDucks can come anywhere close to sustaining their current winning pace, they’ll put themselves in contention for a postseason berth in the Double-A Northeast league, which is in its first season under its new name after previously being known as the Eastern League. Either way, fans appear to have plenty of reasons to visit Canal Park this spring, summer and fall.