Senators’ Notebook: Clutch hitting, Frankie Tostado’s grand slam, the bright lights, and the Yankees AA affiliate on City Island

Last week the Senators traveled to Akron, and they could have won all six games or just as easily gone 0-6 against the RubberDucks. So, I guess it’s fitting the two teams split the series 3-3, as the Senators won on Saturday and both ends of a doubleheader on Sunday to finish the stretch on a three-game winning streak.

Unlike the previous week, the Senators’ bullpen proved fallible in the first three games as Garvin Alston, Tim Cate, and Orlando Ribalta collared the losses late in each contest. But on the offensive side, this team is showing some poise and clutchness when it matters most. The Senators were relentless against the Akron bullpen scoring 21 of their 28 runs in the series in the seventh inning and later.

Plate Appearance of the Week (Pitching)

At seven innings, games in doubleheaders are great for teams to get an early lead and coast the rest of the way. So with Akron threatening in the second inning of Game 1 on Sunday with runners on the corners and one out, southpaw Alex Troop was in a bit of a jam. Pitchers will look the strikeout with a runner at third and less than two outs, and Troop was no different, getting the count to 2-2 before dropping in a slider that froze Joe Naranjo. It was the perfect pitch in the situation, executed flawlessly. Gabriel Rodriguez followed with a pop-up in foul territory to end the threat and keep the game deadlocked.

Plate Appearance of the Week (Batting)

After dropping the series’ first three games, things weren’t looking much brighter for Harrisburg, down 4-0 in the 8th inning on Saturday night. The Senators rallied for two runs on back-to-back RBI singles from Drew Millas and José Sánchez to halve the Rubber Ducks’ lead but only had three outs left to make up the difference.

Walks to Yasel Antuna and Will Frizzell, followed by a Trey Harris single, loaded the bases for Frankie Tostado. Jack Dunn subbed in to pinch run for Frizzell at second base for the added speed with the tying run. It wouldn’t be necessary as Tostado, sitting on a 1-1 breaking ball, crushed the offering deep into the Akron night to change the Senators’ fortunes with one swing of the bat.

Although the forecast for this week doesn’t have the same warm temperatures as the opening week did, it won’t be anything like the Senators just played at in Akron. Rainy and cold seemed to be the norm for much of the week culminating in Sunday’s doubleheader, which was only 45 degrees at the first pitch and featured a snowy mix at one point. Hopefully, that will be the worst they get as far as the weather goes, but a trip to New Hampshire in the first week of May may be worse.

One thing to look for in this week’s series is a change to FNB Field that many fans may have yet to notice in the previous series against Richmond. The Senators installed new lights and adjusted them for better coverage in some of the deeper recesses of the alleys in left and right-center.

EL Players of the Week

3B Colt Keith (Erie) – .542/.593/.875, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R
RHP Gavin Williams (Akron) – 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 8 K, 1 BB

This Week

The Somerset Patriots, an affiliate of the New York Yankees, make their lone trip to City Island this year with a six-game series starting Tuesday at 6:30 PM when Jackson Rutledge toes the rubber for the Senators. Highlights of the homestand are Wet Nose Wednesday for a noon game, playing as the Playeros de Harrisburg for the first time this season on Thursday night as part of the MiLB Copa de la Diversión initiative, and an expected big crowd on Sunday with a Hersheypark ticket giveaway to the first 4,000 fans through the gate.

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