Game 108: Ducks at Bluefish

With the playoffs rapidly approaching and the Ducks still seeking a berth for their fourth consecutive season, this past week’s six-game homestand was a crucial one for the Flock. Facing a pair of division leaders in the Sugar Land Skeeters and Somerset Patriots, it was also a chance for the Ducks to make a statement that they can compete with any team in the Atlantic League this year. Statement made.

The Ducks capped off a 5-1 homestand with a come-from-behind 8-3 victory over the Patriots that also finished off a three-game sweep of their Liberty Division rivals. That 13-game losing streak from earlier in the second half appears to be forgotten about by the Ducks, as they have reeled off wins in four consecutive games and six of their last seven. Since that 13-game slide, Long Island has posted a 15-8 record and leapfrogged both the Bridgeport Bluefish and Camden Riversharks in the Liberty Division. They sit just five games in back of the Patriots for the division lead and are tied with the Lancaster Barnstormers for the second wild card spot at 57-50 overall.

In Sunday’s victory, the Ducks used a balanced attack from the starting lineup to put up eight runs and 15 hits against Patriots starter Matt Zielinski and the Somerset bullpen. Every Ducks batter reached base at least once and eight of the nine had at least one hit, with Brendan Harris being the lone exception. Seven of the nine batters drove in at least one run and six scored at least once. From top to bottom, everyone seemed to contribute to the win in one way or another. Bright spots included Bill Hall, who finished with three hits after not playing in three games, and Lew Ford, who picked up three hits, drove in two and scored twice as well.

On the mound, Mitch Talbot rebounded from a tough first inning to put together another quality start. He allowed two runs on three straight two-out hits to open the game, but gave up just one run on four hits over his final five innings, with the lone run coming on a Brian Barden homer in the fifth. Talbot is now 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA this season, with even better numbers since becoming a starter (see below). As for the bullpen, they continued their recent success to secure the sweep. Doug Arguello made his Ducks debut and needed just 10 pitches to retire the Patriots in order in the seventh. Sergio Perez continued his strong start with the Flock by pitching a scoreless eighth inning. He’s now thrown six shutout innings as a Duck. Finally, David Kopp closed the door with a dominant ninth inning for a second straight game, striking out the final two hitters in the process.

CLICK HERE to read a full recap from Sunday’s homestand finale, complete with audio highlights and postgame interviews with Kevin Baez, Ford and Talbot.

Tonight, the Ferry Cup Series resumes across the Long Island Sound when the Ducks visit the Bluefish for the first of three games to close out this year’s chapter. Even QuackerJack is excited about the Ferry Cup Series, as he made the trip across the Long Island Sound on the Port Jefferson Ferry to Bridgeport! Long Island leads the season series 9-8 entering the set, meaning they can guarantee themselves at least a share of the title with one win in the three games.

The Ducks call on right-hander John Brownell to open up the series. Their ace leads the league in wins this year with 12, compiling a 12-7 record and a 3.63 ERA. Brownell also leads the league in games started (22), complete games (5), and innings pitched (153.1) while ranking second in strikeouts (105). The 2013 Championship Series MVP has tossed four consecutive quality starts entering Monday, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.01 ERA in that span. He’s allowed 21 hits and 11 walks while striking out 20 in those four starts as well. In his last start, Brownell allowed a first inning three-run homer to Delwyn Young before tossing six shutout innings. Unfortunately, the Ducks offense couldn’t solve Matt Wright in a 3-0 loss to the Skeeters on Wednesday. Against the Bluefish this year, Brownell is 4-1 with a 3.50 ERA in five starts, including a pair of complete games.

On the other side, the Bluefish will go with right-hander Kyle McMillen as tonight’s starter. Right-hander Julio Rodriguez was originally scheduled to pitch but retired today, so Bridgeport has chosen McMillen to fill the void tonight. The righty reliever has appeared in 25 games this season (one start) and is 0-4 with a 7.44 ERA. He has walked 27 batters while striking out 26 over 29 innings of work in 2014. The 24-year-old’s lone start of the season came on July 9 against Southern Maryland, and he did not fare well, surrendering five runs on seven hits over four innings to suffer the loss. McMillen has appeared in four games against the Ducks and given up four runs (two earned) on five hits and seven walks over two and two-thirds innings while striking out three.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Bluefish: Tonight marks the 18th meeting of the season between the Ducks and Bluefish and eighth of 10 games between the two in Bridgeport. The Ducks currently lead the series 9-8 and have a 5-2 advantage in Bridgeport. Long Island and Bridgeport have played 282 games against each other all-time, with the Bluefish holding a slim 142-140 lead and a 77-61 edge in Bridgeport. Both teams have played for the Ferry Cup since 2009, with the Ducks winning the trophy three times (2009, 2011, 2013).

Starter Success: Ducks starting pitchers are now 7-1 with a 1.98 ERA (18 earned runs in 81 and two-thirds innings) over their last 12 games after Talbot yielded three runs over six innings. In that span, they’ve allowed 70 hits and 16 walks while striking out 50 batters. Dating back to August 2, the starters are 9-2 with a 2.00 ERA, allowing 23 earned runs in 103 and two-thirds innings.

Mitch is Masterful: With six innings of three-run ball on Sunday, Mitch Talbot continued his success since being moved to the starting rotation. In his six starts, the former big leaguer is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA. In 30 innings as a starter, he has surrendered 26 hits and eight walks while striking out 21.

Oh, What a Relief They Are: Three different Ducks relievers combined to hold Somerset scoreless on one hit and one walk with three strikeouts over the final three innings of Sunday’s game. Ducks relievers have now tossed 12 straight scoreless innings since the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game against Sugar Land. In the last seven games, Ducks relievers have combined to allow just two runs over 17 innings (1.06 ERA) on 11 hits and four walks with 15 strikeouts.

Can’t Stop Crawford: Evan Crawford went 1-for-4 with a run batted in on Sunday. He is now 11-for-21 at the plate with two doubles, two RBI, four runs and four stolen bases in his first seven games with Long Island. The 26-year old has earned at least one hit in each of the seven games.

Brodin Ends Homer Drought: Joash Brodin’s solo homer in the eighth inning on Sunday was his sixth of the year and first since June 6 at Southern Maryland, a span of 63 games. The third-year Duck also recorded his 20th two-hit game, good for fourth-most on the team, and 26th multi-hit game of the year.

RBI Machine: With a RBI single in the fourth on Sunday, Brandon Bantz has driven in a run in three consecutive games. The former big leaguer has two homers, seven RBI and two runs scored in those three games. He earned the game-winning hit and RBI in each of the three games against Somerset.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast with live streaming audio on the Ducks official YouTube channel. Fans can follow all the action by CLICKING HERE. Michael Polak will call the play-by-play.

Finally, here are tonight’s starting lineups:

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

#7   John Brownell – RHP

#7   James Simmons – CF
#11 Sean Burroughs – 3B
#27 Prentice Redman – DH
#36 Fred Lewis – LF
#23 J.R. Towles – C
#15 Ramon Castro – 2B
#19 Luis Lopez – 1B
#20 Denny Almonte – RF
#5   Juan Martinez – SS

#22 Kyle McMillen – RHP

Keep it here for updates throughout the game at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard as the Ducks look to secure at least a share of the Ferry Cup for a second consecutive season!

UPDATE (7:22): TOP 1: Ducks strike for two runs on a two-out, two-run single to left by Cody Puckett!

UPDATE (7:33): BOT 1: Bluefish grab an unearned run on a two-out RBI single to right by Fred Lewis.

UPDATE (8:02): TOP 3: Ducks get their two-run lead back on a RBI double to right by Adam Bailey after Lew Ford opened the inning with a double!

UPDATE (8:16): BOT 3: Bridgeport ties the game on a RBI double by Sean Burroughs and a RBI single by Lewis.

UPDATE (9:06): END 6: We remain tied at three after six innings. John Brownell has struck out four and has retired the last nine batters he’s faced.

UPDATE (9:46): END 8: Tommy Organ with a scoreless eighth inning, as the lefty strikes out two! We go to the ninth in Bridgeport tied at three.

UPDATE (10:17): FINAL: Bridgeport wins it 4-3 in the ninth on a walk-off single to center by Juan Martinez off of Bob Zimmermann.


Posted on August 18, 2014, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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