Game 24: Ducks vs. Blue Crabs

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After a weekend series that featured three Ducks starters, neither of whom pitched more than five innings and who combined to walk 13 batters in 12.2 innings, the starters were undoubtedly the story the last two nights for positive reasons. Shaun Garceau held the Blue Crabs scoreless over seven innings on Tuesday, allowing just two singles, a double and two walks while striking out six to earn his second win of the season. For a second straight night, after Blevins threw eight innings of three-run ball on Monday, the Ducks starters spared the bullpen and gave them some much needed rest. In addition, for the second consecutive start, Garceau looked like the pitcher who opened eyes with the Ducks at the end of the 2013 season and in the playoffs. The numbers from his last two starts are a stark contrast from his first three this year:

Last Two Starts: 2-0, 1.93 ERA, 14.0 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER 2 BB, 10 K, 1 HR
First Three Starts: 0-1, 15.09 ERA, 11.1 IP, 24 H, 19 R, 19 ER, 5 BB, 9 K, 2 HR

In fact, let’s look at the difference in numbers from the three starters over the weekend (Fernando Hernandez, Jared Lansford and John Brownell) to the two so far this week (Blevins and Garceau):

Weekend: 0-2, 8.53 ERA, 12.2 IP, 19 H, 16 R, 12 ER, 13 BB, 9 K
This Week: 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 15.0 IP, 13 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 10 K

If the Ducks are going to defend their back-to-back Atlantic League championships this season, they will certainly need the starting pitchers to consistently turn in quality outings. That, in turn, will help prevent Long Island’s strong bullpen from being overworked. Speaking of the ‘pen, Jon Meloan and Eric Niesen each turned in a scoreless inning last night. Meloan looked exactly like the pitcher who dominated with the Ducks in 2012, sporting a hard fastball and a knee-buckling curveball. Niesen continued to excel on the mound in his third season with the Flock and has now pitched 12.1 innings without allowing an earned run in 2014. In that span, he has given up just five hits and six walks while striking out 22.

CLICK HERE to read the full recap from last night’s game, complete with audio highlights and postgame interviews with Kevin Baez, Garceau and Cody Puckett.

Tonight, the Ducks will look to set a new high water mark this season by improving to two games over .500. Hernandez will take the mound for the Flock, looking to rebound from his first rough outing of the year. In game one of Saturday’s doubleheader with Camden, the righty allowed five runs (three earned) on six hits and an uncharacteristic five walks in just four innings. He still sports a 2.16 ERA seven games (two starts) this year. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Gabriel Hernandez, and no, the two are not related. However, they are both good friends who live in Miami and work out together during the offseason. Gabriel has struggled thus far in his third season with Southern Maryland, going 0-1 with an 8.25 ERA in four games (two starts). He took the loss on Friday against Lancaster, surrendering four runs on three hits and two walks in five and two-thirds innings.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Blue Crabs: Today marks the fifth meeting of the year between the Ducks and Blue Crabs and the third of 10 meetings at Bethpage Ballpark in 2014. The Ducks lead the season series 4-0 and have outscored Southern Maryland 24-5 thus far. Long Island and Southern Maryland have played 121 regular season games against each other all-time, with the Blue Crabs holding a 67-54 advantage in the series and a slim 33-32 edge in Central Islip.

Shut Em Down: Tuesday night marked Long Island’s second shutout victory of the season. Their first came on May 10 at Lancaster in what was also a 5-0 win. In 2013, the Ducks held their opponents scoreless nine times. Long Island has yet to be held scoreless in a game this season.

Offensive Machine: Lew Ford extended his on-base streak to 16 consecutive games with a walk in the third inning on Tuesday. That’s the longest by a Duck this season and the longest in the Atlantic League in 2014. Chad Tracy (York) previously had the longest on-base streak this year at 15 games (May 1-17). Ford has also now hit safely in eight consecutive games. The former big leaguer ranks second in the Atlantic League in batting average (.375),  hits (33), total bases (53) and slugging percentage (.602), third in RBI (22) and runs (22), and fourth in on-base percentage (.434).

Launch Pad: Ford’s solo home run on Tuesday was his fourth of the year, tying him with Adam Bailey for the team lead. The former big leaguer has now gone deep in two of the past three games. Cody Puckett’s two-run homer was his first with the Ducks. The second baseman has collected at least one hit in 12 of his last 13 games. The Ducks have launched 15 homers this season.

Countdown to 6 Million: Tuesday’s crowd of 4,078 at Bethpage Ballpark increased the all-time attendance at the Duck Pond to 5,991,279, which is an Atlantic League record. Long Island is now just 8,721 fans away from reaching the magical 6 million fan mark.

Upcoming Win Milestones: The Ducks are now just two home wins away from reaching 600 all-time during the regular season at Bethpage Ballpark. Their season-high for victories at home was 51 in 2011 when they were 51-20. Long Island is also 16 victories away from 1,000 in franchise history during the regular season. Their season-high for wins in a year was 82 in their inaugural season of 2000.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast live on the Ducks official YouTube channel, with live streaming video and audio available by CLICKING HERE. Chris King will call the play-by-play.

Finally, here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Ducks
#24 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#25 Brendan Harris – 3B
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#22 Joash Brodin – 1B
#50 Randy Ruiz  – DH
#2   Cody Puckett – 2B
#13 Adam Bailey – LF
#23 Jan Vazquez – C
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#29 Fernando Hernandez – RHP

Blue Crabs
#11 Brian Barton – LF
#1   Amadeo Zazueta – SS
#15 Cyle Hankerd – 1B
#44 Craig Ziegler – 3B
#2   Jake Opitz – DH
#4   Dave Sappelt – CF
#7   Jared McDonald – 2B
#10 Allan de San Miguel – C
#20 Jermaine Mitchell – RF

#18 Gabriel Hernandez – RHP

We’ll be posting updates throughout the course of the evening, so keep refreshing for updates.

UPDATE (7:07): Through two innings at the Duck Pond, we remain scoreless. Each side with a pair of hits so far.

UPDATE (7:31): We are currently in a delay at Bethpage Ballpark due to a power issue. Play will resume momentarily. Thank you for your patience.

UPDATE (7:40): Play has resumed at the Duck Pond after a 12-minute delay. No score in the bottom of the fourth.

UPDATE (8:09): Southern Maryland grabs a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth on an RBI single from Allan de San Miguel, but later strand the bases loaded.

UPDATE (8:33): Adam Bailey with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning to cut the deficit for the Flock to one. 2-1 Blue Crabs through six innings

UPDATE (9:22): JAN VAZQUEZ GOES YARD!!!! His first home run, and first hit as a Duck ties the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth!!

UPDATE (9:31): Extra baseball tonight at the Duck Pond. The Vazquez homer ties it at two and sends us to the top of the 10th inning!

UPDATE (9:46): Both teams fail to score in the 10th, and we move on to the 11th inning at the Duck Pond, knotted at two.

UPDATE (10:06): Eric Niesen works a scoreless top of the 12th, and the Ducks will bring up Ford, Brodin and Ruiz in the bottom half, still tied at two.

UPDATE (10:13): BALLGAME!! Cody Puckett with an RBI double, and the Ducks win it 3-2 in 12 innings!! First waddle-off win of the year and 3rd straight win!

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Posted on May 21, 2014, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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