AVON — Crushers manager Jeff Isom told his team this six-game homestand would be the biggest of the year.
Apparently, his pitchers were listening.
One day after Matt Rein baffled Windy City with a two-hit shutout, Fostoria native Alex Kaminsky answered with arguably his best outing as a Crusher, combining with Mickey Jannis on a four-hit shutout.
While the offense didn’t light up the scoreboard like it did Tuesday, it did just enough to lift Lake Erie to a
3-0 victory Wednesday night in front of 2,156 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.
“We talked about how hitting gets contagious, and sometimes pitching can as well,” Isom said. “The outing by Rein kind of led the way for us, and Kaminsky, on his coattails, ended up throwing a heck of a game today. He threw a lot of strikes today. His fastball was really good and he kept them off balance with his breaking ball.”
It was the first time the Crushers (19-21) have thrown back-to-back shutouts this season and gives them three shutouts on the year. They go for their second home series sweep of the season tonight.
“We just came off a frustrating road trip where we thought we could at least win one of those games, if not two of them,” Isom said. “We knew not only this series, but this six-game homestand, was going to be big for us. We’ve got to make up some ground, and it’s no secret that it starts now.”
Kaminsky (3-4), who lugged a 5.35 ERA into Wednesday’s start, dominated the ThunderBolts (17-25) for seven innings, retiring the first seven batters he faced and putting down the side in order in five of his seven innings. He scattered three hits, walked one and struck out six to lower his ERA to 4.59.
“It was big,” said Kaminsky, who won his first start at home this season. “As a starting pitcher, you always want to be better than you did the last time. When Rein came out to the mound after the game, he gave me a hug and I told him, ‘I tried to one-up you.’ As a starting staff, we’re all pretty close guys, and when Rein throws a CG, I want to follow him with something similar.
“I watched Homer Bailey’s last inning last night on MLB Network when we got back (in the clubhouse), and I did some research on it and he threw 70 percent first-pitch strikes. I kind of tried to emulate what he did last night. I tried to go out there with the same attitude he did and pound the zone with my fastball. Luckily, I was able to do that.”
Jannis, who has been dominating since rejoining the Crushers last month, tossed two scoreless innings for his first save. He did give up a two-out walk and single to Ryan Soares in the top of the ninth, but came back to strike out Evan Button to save the shutout.
“Jannis had a good 1-2-3 inning in the eighth, so we decided to let him roll for the ninth,” Isom said. “Plus, there’s a good possibility that he can start Saturday’s game, so we wanted to use this as an extended bullpen for him.”
The Crushers had two big defensive plays to keep the Bolts off the board. In the fifth, third baseman Anderson Hidalgo — who extended his hitting streak to six games — turned a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. In the sixth, left fielder Kevin Berard and cutoff man Juan Sanchez cut down Nathan Pittman at third trying to stretch a double.
“That double play was a big double play for us at that time,” Isom said. “Hidalgo made a great play and Max Casper hung in there and was able to make the turn. The funny thing is, we were working on cutoffs and relays today, and that practice showed in both of those instances. (On the double), credit Hidalgo for making the pick on Sanchez’s throw and making the tag. That was not an easy play on his part.”
Offensively, No. 9 hitter Sanchez had the big day, going 3-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI, lifting his average to .217.
“When you look through our lineup, from top-to-bottom, it could be any of those guys on any given night,” Isom said. “Sanchez was hitting .196 coming in and he bumped himself up 20 points by going 3-for-3. It’s anybody in this lineup that can contribute any given night. I like what I’m seeing throughout our lineup, but give Sanchez credit. He’s put a lot of time in the cage, and it’s starting to pay off.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO:Lake Erie vs. Windy City
WHERE: All Pro Freight Stadium, Avon