A day at Canal Park: The 2014 Akron RubberDucks home opener
Taking a look at the sights of the RubberDucks' home opener scene
The Akron RubberDucks debuted their new name and logo at Canal Park Thursday night, playing in front of their home crowd for the first time. Since (I'm assuming) the vast majority of IBI's readership was not there, here are the sights of the game and spectacle (all photos are mine):
RubberDucks infielder Ronny Rodriguez gets in some batting practice before the game.
The Canal Park scoreboard, now in its second year. It is the largest freestanding scoreboard in the minors and just one of the numerous upgrades second-year owner Ken Babby made to Canal Park since taking over.
Fans line up for admission into Canal Park. The right-field portion of Main Street was closed for different fan events, including a live band and a motorized trolley for children.
The view from The Game Grill + Bar, a newly-opened year-round restaurant in the right-field corner of Canal Park. In addition to the restaurant, the RubberDucks opened the Bud Light Tiki Terrace (also in right field) and the Fowl Territory picnic area down the left-field line.
A RubberDucks employee entertains fans before the game, preparing to juggle while on stilts.
Like during the 2013 home opener, the RubberDucks are all brought onto the field through the center field fence via Chevy Corvettes.
RubberDucks second baseman Joe Wendle as his car brings him to home plate.
Webster, the RubberDucks' third mascot (he joins Orbit the Space Cat and Homer the Pigeon). The name was chosen in a fan vote and announced on Monday April 7.
Anthony Paul -- who appeared on the fifth season of NBC's The Voice -- sings the National Anthem.
Babby speaks in front of the announced sellout crowd of 8,046 before the start of the game.
Akron mayor Don Plusquellic, left, walks off the field with Babby after the mayor threw out the first pitch to Babby.
Cleveland outfielder Michael Bourn -- playing with the RubberDucks as he rehabs a hamstring injury -- signs an autograph from the dugout before the game starts.
Similarly, shortstop Francisco Lindor -- the top prospect in Cleveland's system -- signs autographs for fans down the left-field line before heading out to his position.
Starting pitcher Cody Anderson winds up to pitch during the first inning. Anderson's first pitch to the Bowie Baysox's leadoff hitter -- third baseman Buck Britton -- was launched over the right-field wall for a home run.
Bourn leaves the field after the first inning. The center fielder made a strong defensive play that helped Anderson and the RubberDucks escape the first inning only down 1-0.
Anderson (left) is joined by pitching coach Jeff Harris and catcher Tony Wolters during the second inning after Britton hit his second home run -- a two-run shot. The right-hander joked after the game that it should not have taken him three at-bats to stop throwing fastballs to Britton. Anderson managed to regroup, making it through six innings with four runs allowed.
With the RubberDucks down 4-0 early, third baseman Giovanny Urshela launched a three-run home run to close the gap. This shot, taken in the second inning, shows Urshela's leg kick as he starts his swing.
Relieving Anderson, left-hander Giovanni Soto continues his way back from back issues that plagued his 2013 season. Soto shutout the Baysox in the seventh and eighth innings.
Fans get up to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch.
Lindor winds up to throw to first base, finishing a double play for the RubberDucks in the top of the ninth.
Down 6-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth, left fielder Bryson Myles doubles to start the inning.
Following a walk by Bourn, giving the RubberDucks hope for a comeback, designated hitter Tyler Naquin walks back to the dugout after being called out on strikes in a 12-pitch at bat. Lindor followed with a groundout, putting runners on second and third with two outs.
With the RubberDucks down to their last out, Wendle -- the tying run -- swings at a pitch.
And grounds out to the first baseman as Baysox pitcher Oliver Drake covers first base.
Wendle jogs back to the dugout following the game-ending groundout as the RubberDucks postgame promotional crew takes the field. Though losing is never a good proposition for a ballclub, despite its fanfare, the RubberDucks' home opener is still only one game in the standings. Akron will be back at it again over 100 times this year and will often leave the field happier than it did Thursday night.
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