Game 129: Ducks vs. Blue Crabs

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Today, baseball returns to Bethpage Ballpark! Now that the Long Island Ducks have wrapped up their seven-game series in Texas against the Sugar Land Skeeters, we have officially entered the stretch run of the 2014 season. There are 12 games left in the regular season, including this upcoming three-game series against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, beginning tonight. Nine of the final 12 games of the season will be played at the Duck Pond, giving the Flock an opportunity to push their way into the postseason. Currently, the Ducks are two games behind the Somerset Patriots for first place in the Liberty Division and 2.5 games behind the Skeeters for the wild card. In addition, the Flock own the tiebreaker over both teams. CLICK HERE to check out the updated playoff scenarios following Sunday’s slate of Atlantic League games.

After taking the first four games of the series against Sugar Land, and at one point leading the wild card standings, the final three games ended in disappointment for Long Island. With an opportunity to not only remain in the lead in the wild card race, but actually extend it, the Ducks dropped each of the final three games of the series by one run. That includes carrying a 5-3 lead into the ninth inning on Sunday, only to allow a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to spoil the series finale.

The Ducks starting pitching was consistently strong during the Sugar Land series, including John Brownell’s performance on Sunday. Brownell allowed three runs over six and one-third innings of work sandwiched around a four hour and 45 minute rain delay. A two-run home run from Brendan Harris in the fifth inning, alongside a pair of sacrifice flies and a RBI infield single from Jan Vazquez provided the offense. However, even after a Travis Scott RBI double in the ninth brought the Skeeters within one run, the Ducks still had an opportunity to finish off the game with two outs on a groundball to third base. Harris was not able to make the play, which not only allowed a run to score, but also extended the inning. The next batter, Ryan Langerhans, then lifted a walk-off RBI double to center field to win the ballgame.

CLICK HERE to view the full recap from Sunday’s game, complete with audio highlights.

After Monday’s off day, the Ducks will send Bobby Blevins to the mound tonight for his 25th start of the year. The third-year Duck enters the ballgame 9-3 on the year with a 2.73 earned run average – third lowest in the Atlantic League. Blevins also ranks second in the league in innings pitched (171.1). Over those innings, the righty has struck out 103 batters against just 27 walks. Blevins has tossed 12 consecutive quality starts, and has not lost since June 29 at York. In two starts against the Blue Crabs, he is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA, having allowed four runs over 16 innings of work.

His counterpart tonight is Blue Crabs righty Gaby Hernandez, who will be making his 26th appearance (24th start) of the season. So far, the third-year Blue Crab is 6-9 with a 4.98 ERA and 111 strikeouts against 47 walks over 139 innings pitched. Hernandez has allowed exactly two run in each of his last three starts, going 2-0 over that span. Prior to his last three games, the Miami native had gone 0-4 over a six-game stretch. In three starts against Long Island this year, Hernandez is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA, allowing 15 runs over 15 innings on 25 hits.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Blue Crabs: Tonight marks the 15th meeting of the season between the Ducks and Blue Crabs and fifth of 10 games between them on Long Island. The Ducks lead the series 11-3 and have a 4-0 lead at home. Long Island and Southern Maryland have played 131 games against each other all-time, with the Blue Crabs holding a 70-61 lead. However, the Ducks have a 34-33 lead at home.

Starter Domination: Ducks starting pitchers have been strong overall during Long Island’s last 11 games. Following John Brownell’s start on Sunday, Ducks starters have combined to post a 2.13 ERA over their last 11 games, yielding just 17 earned runs over 72 innings of work. In that stretch, they have allowed 66 hits and 15 walks while striking out 38. Brownell has now tossed three straight quality starts.

Harris is Heating Up: With a two-run home run on Sunday, Brendan Harris extended his hitting streak to 21 consecutive games. That’s tied for the longest hitting streak by a Duck this year. Fehlandt Lentini also hit safely in 21 straight games from June 6-27 and June 29 to July 22. During the streak, Harris is batting .398 (33-for-83) with six doubles, three home runs, 13 RBI, 22 runs and 15 walks. The homer was Harris’ eighth of the season and second in seven games so far this month.

Hot Start: With a single on Sunday, C.J. Retherford has picked up a hit in six of his first seven games with the Flock. The infielder has nine hits in his first 27 at-bats (.333 AVG) with three RBI, five runs and three walks. Three of his first seven games have been multi-hit contests.

Oh, What a Relief They Are: Brett Lorin pitched a scoreless inning of relief on Sunday. He’s now made five straight scoreless appearances and has allowed just one run over his past 17 games. In that span, the righty is 2-1 with a 0.59 ERA and has given up seven hits and four walks with 10 strikeouts in 15.1 innings. Tommy Organ also pitched a scoreless inning and has now made five straight scoreless appearances. The southpaw has allowed a run in just one of his 13 games thus far with the Ducks.

Blevins on the Bump: Bobby Blevins has tossed 12 consecutive quality starts entering tonight’s outing. During those 12 starts, the right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.34 ERA, allowing just 14 earned runs in 94.1 innings of work. In that span, he has yielded 77 hits and just 11 walks while striking out 48. Blevins has not walked a batter in seven of those 12 starts and has allowed just 27 walks all season (171.1 IP).

On the Air: Tonight’s ballgame with be broadcast on the Ducks official YouTube channel. Fans can also follow all of the action online 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
#13 Adam Bailey – LF
#11 C.J. Retherford – DH
#2   Cody Puckett – 2B
#14 Brandon Bantz – C
#22 Joash Brodin – RF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#18 Bobby Blevins – RHP

Blue Crabs
#4   Bobby Stevens – SS
#20 Jermaine Mitchell – CF
#15 Cyle Hankerd – RF
#2   Jake Opitz – 2B
#12 Steve Moss – DH
#44 C.J. Ziegler – 1B
#23 Mike Schwartz – LF
#19 Angel Chavez – 3B
#8   James Skelton – C

#18 Gaby Hernandez – RHP

Keep it here for updates throughout the game at Bethpage Ballpark as the Ducks look to start their series against the Blue Crabs off with a win!

UPDATE (7:03): TOP 2: Southern Maryland takes the lead as a run scores on a fielding error by Dan Lyons.

UPDATE (7:52): BOT 4: The Ducks pull even on a sacrifice fly to right off the bat of C.J. Retherford! 1-1 ballgame.

UPDATE (8:44): TOP 6: The Blue Crabs took the lead with a seven-run inning against the Ducks. 8-1 the score.

UPDATE (9:40): TOP 9: Blue Crabs add another pair of runs on RBI single by Jermaine Mitchell and Steve Moss.

UPDATE (9:49): FINAL: Blue Crabs take the opener of the series 10-1 over the Ducks. Game two is Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m.

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Posted on September 9, 2014, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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