Game 59: Ducks at Skeeters

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Losses had been a very rare thing for the Ducks this June. In fact, there have only been two of them in 22 games. However, there has been one common theme for the Ducks in both of those games: missed opportunities. For the second time, Long Island had a 10-game winning streak snapped in the first game of a road trip, and in both situations, it was by just one run.

The first loss came on June 12 at Bridgeport in a 3-2 game. The Ducks had jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in that one, but they had chances to both extend it and then come back after falling behind. Long Island had a man on second and nobody out in the second and sixth innings of that game but could not score, and they had two on with one out in the fifth but couldn’t push a run across. Ian Marshall was the starter that night and pitched fairly well outside of six walks, but the offense could not give him enough support.

Sure enough, Marshall was on the mound again last night for the Ducks, and he turned in an even better start. The right-hander pitched seven innings in the Texas heat and humidity and allowed just two runs on eight hits while walking only one and striking out two. He also received outstanding defense around the field throughout the game. However, Skeeters starter Josh Geer did a terrific job of working out of trouble all night long.

The Ducks had two on and one out for Jose Morales, one of their hottest hitters of late. Morales grounded into a 1-6-3 double play though, and the Flock came up empty handed. After a Chris Wallace homer in the second gave Sugar land the lead, the Ducks would put two on with two out in the third. However, Lew Ford’s deep fly ball to left-center was caught by Denny Almonte to retire the side. The Ducks would have two on with two out again in both the fifth and sixth inning, trailing by two. Delta Cleary, Jr. grounded out to second on the first pitch he saw in the fifth to end that threat, and Morales would strike out to end the sixth after just missing a two-run double down the left field line.

Another close call for the Ducks came in the eighth when Ford and Randy Ruiz reached on one-out singles. However, Jon Griffin’s deep fly to left was caught at the wall by Johan Limonta, and Cody Puckett popped out to right to end the frame. Long Island finally dented home plate in the ninth on a two-out RBI fielder’s choice from Bryan Sabatella that followed back-to-back singles. Unfortunately, Cleary, Jr. grounded to short to end the ballgame, and the Ducks’ winning streak was over.

CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from Tuesday’s game
CLICK HERE to view Tuesday’s box score

Wednesday presents a new day for the Flock, and the Ducks will turn to their best starter thus far to try and begin another winning streak. Mickey Jannis brings his Atlantic League best 1.29 ERA into the game along with a 5-2 record through 14 games (nine starts). The knuckleballer dominated the Skeeters last Thursday, tossing seven shutout innings and allowing just three hits and three walks while striking out five. He also made a relief appearance on Sunday, his normal bullpen throw day, and threw a 1-2-3 inning. In his last 11 games (six starts), the knuckleballer has allowed just five earned runs over 53 innings, good for a 0.85 ERA. In that span, he has given up 30 hits and 15 walks while striking out 40. In his last five starts, the righty is 3-0 with a 0.49 ERA, yielding two earned runs in 37 innings.

Sugar land will counter with left-hander Roy Merritt, who is making his seventh appearance (fifth start) of 2015. He enters at 2-1 with a 0.85 ERA thus far, but he suffered the loss in his last outing. Facing the Ducks and opposing Jannis, the southpaw pitched well, allowing just two runs on five hits and striking out three in seven innings. However, the Skeeters could not score against Jannis, Amalio Diaz and Ryan Kussmaul, and so he suffered the hard luck defeat. Both of Long Island’s runs came on a fourth inning two-run homer by Ruiz. Merritt’s first five appearances all came at Constellation Field, but he did not pitch at all between April 26 and June 2 due to a groin injury suffered while warming up in a game.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Skeeters: Tonight marks the 68th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Skeeters. Sugar Land currently leads the series 35-32 and holds a 21-10 advantage at Constellation Field. Tonight is also the eighth of 19 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. The Ducks lead the series five to two.

No Swoon in June: Despite Tuesday’s loss, the Ducks have a 20-2 record this June, outscoring opponents 134-58 in that span (6.1 runs scored/game). Their 20 wins in June are two shy of the club record for wins in a month. Long Island won 22 games in August of 2000 and July of 2003). The Ducks have won each of the six series they have play so far in June.

Marshall’s Masterful: Despite suffering the loss, Ian Marshall turned in a quality start on Tuesday with seven innings of two-run ball. The right-hander has now allowed two earned runs or less in each of his last seven outings. In that span, he has given up 15 runs (12 earned) in 41.1 innings (2.61 ERA) on 35 hits and 22 walks with 24 strikeouts. His 2.51 ERA ranks ninth in the Atlantic League.

Two-Fer Tuesday: Bryan Sabatella, Lew Ford, Cody Puckett and Randy Ruiz each collected two hits on Tuesday. Sabatella and Ford moved into a tie with Reegie Corona for the team lead in two-hits games with 17. Puckett earned his 13th two-hit contest, and Ruiz totaled his seventh. Ford leads the Flock with 24 multi-hit games this season, while Sabatella ranks second with 22.

Ford’s Fury: Ford has now hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games after picking up two hits on Tuesday. In those 16 games, he is batting .426 (26-for-61) with six doubles, one homer, 10 RBI and 15 runs. The sixth-year Duck leads the Atlantic League in batting average (.343), RBI (46), hits (74), total bases (113), doubles (19), extra-base hits (26) and slugging percentage (.523).

Sabatella’s Sizzling: With his two hits on Monday, Sabatella has now hit safely in 16 of his last 17 games. During his last 17 contests, the Long Island native is batting .387 (29-for-75) with two doubles, one triple, 11 RBI and 14 runs. He currently leads the league in runs (41), at-bats (229) and stolen bases (16).

Randy Rakes: Ruiz has now earned multiple hits in each of his last three games and in five of his last six contests. In addition, he has reached base safely in each of his last nine games. In that span, the former big leaguer is batting .407 (13-for-32) with four doubles, one homer, eight RBI and seven runs.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Ducks’ official YouTube channel. Live streaming audio will be available by CLICKING HERE. Michael Polak will call the play-by-play. Fans can also follow a pitch-by-pitch account of the game via Pointstreak’s GameLive application by CLICKING HERE.

Finally, here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Ducks
#44 Bryan Sabatella – RF
#11  Reegie Corona – 2B
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#2   Cody Puckett – 3B
#9   Mike Blanke – C
#27 Prentice Redman – LF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#6   Mickey Jannis – RHP

Skeeters
#11 Willy Taveras – DH
#5   Kevin Russo – RF
#24 Delwyn Young – 2B
#16 Travis Scott – 1B
#20 Chris Wallace – C
#25 Johan Limonta – LF
#6   Patrick Palmeiro – 3B
#17 Denny Almonte – CF
#9   Amadeo Zazueta – SS

#33 Roy Merritt – LHP

Stay tuned for updates throughout the game at Constellation Field, as the Ducks and Skeeters play game two of their six-game series. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (6:09): We are underway at Constellation Field on a sunny but hot and humid evening!

UPDATE (6:30): BOT 1: Mickey Jannis works out of a first-and-third, one-out jam! He strikes out Travis Scott and gets Chris Wallace to hit into a force out

UPDATE (6:53): BOT 2: Skeeters score a run on a pass ball by Mike Blanke. They take a 1-0 lead.

UPDATE (7:13): BOT 3: Jannis escapes another jam, getting Johan Limonta on a fly ball to right with two on and two out!

UPDATE (7:36): TOP 5: The Ducks tie up the ballgame on a two-out RBI triple from Reegie Corona! It’s his team-best fourth triple of the year!

UPDATE (7:49): BOT 5: Jannis works out of another jam thanks to an OUTSTANDING defensive play by Dan Lyons! Bare handed grab and throw for final out!

UPDATE (8:02): BOT 6: Sugar Land retakes the lead on a two-out RBI single to left by Amadeo Zazueta. Skeeters now in front 2-1.

UPDATE (8:15): TOP 7: The Ducks tie it again! Prentice Redman’s ground ball goes under the glove of Patrick Palmeiro and scores Mike Blanke! 2-2 ballgame

UPDATE (8:32): BOT 7: Sugar Land takes the lead right back on Travis Scott’s RBI double and a wild pitch by Bruce Kern. 4-2 Skeeters.

UPDATE (9:07): TOP 9: Ducks take the lead with three runs, all with two outs! A RBI single by Reegie Corona and a two-run single by Randy Ruiz! 5-4 Flock

UPDATE (9:22): FINAL: Ryan Kussmaul walks two in the ninth but strands them both on base! The Ducks stun the Skeeters with a 5-4 come-from-behind win!

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Posted on June 24, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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