All season for the Portland Sea Dogs, Carlos Asuaje has been a constant presence at the top of the lineup.

But the infielder is really more at home in the middle, where RBI opportunities are more abundant.

On Saturday, batting fifth instead of his usual second, Asuaje hit a home run and a two-run single to key a 6-4 victory over the Akron RubberDucks before an announced crowd of 7,368 at Hadlock Field. His three RBI gave him a team-leading 50, and earned him some good-natured ribbing from teammate Keury De La Cruz.

“If the guy is not in the lineup, we don’t have a chance,” De La Cruz said as he tape-recorded a sheepish Asuaje’s postgame interview on his iPhone. “For me, this guy’s the MVP.”

Asuaje appeared in his 111th game during what has been a draining season for the Sea Dogs (44-76). That is 13 more games than his locker room neighbor De La Cruz, who is second on the team.

An Eastern League All-Star, Asuaje is hitting .255 and leading the team in most statistical categories, including runs (54), hits (106), total bases (157) and walks (52). His fourth-inning homer, a 415-foot shot over the wall in right-centerfield, was his sixth. It came two batters after first baseman Sam Travis had launched his third home run of the season over the Maine Monster.

“I had noticed they had been aggressive with the fastball all night, especially early in the count,” Asuaje said of Akron pitcher D.J. Brown, making his first Double-A start. “He challenged me with a fastball first pitch. I was aggressive to it, fouled it straight back. I figured he was going to come back with it, just to try and sneak one by me, and I put a good swing on it.”

Travis drove in the go-ahead run with a full-count double in the sixth inning, scoring Tzu-Wei Lin from first base. He has reached base in 44 of his 47 games for Portland.

“I’m just going up there, swinging at strikes, waiting for something you can hit hard, not being too aggressive,” Travis said. “As you move up, guys are better, obviously, more experienced, and you just have to learn something new every day. It’s worked out.”

Asuaje drove in Portland’s final two runs in the seventh, when he came up with runners on second and third and two outs. He was looking for off-speed pitches from Akron reliever Zach Nuding, knowing that first base was open with Henry Ramos on deck.

“I figured they were going to be less aggressive,” Asuaje said. “I figured they were going to throw me junk until I got two strikes and then go for the strikeout.”

Asuaje didn’t let the count get to two strikes, sending Nuding’s second changeup into right field to give Portland a 6-2 lead.

Akron (64-56) got a two-run homer from Carlos Moncrief in the ninth, but Kyle Martin struck out the final two batters to preserve the victory for Madison Younginer (7-4).

Asuaje was the hitting star on Portland’s annual “Star Wars” night.

“Last year, I hit 4 and 5 all year (in Single-A). It was actually a new adjustment for me to hit second in the lineup,” he said. “Moving down in the lineup for me is actually where I feel most comfortable. I love hitting with runners on base, especially in scoring position.”

Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MarkEmmertPPH