Game 93: Ducks vs. Bluefish

McQuail

The Ducks are in the midst of quite possibly their toughest stretch of the season. After posting an incredible 23-6 record during the month of June, they have now gone 12-15 since the start of July. The loss of two key pieces of the lineup, as well as two successful starting pitchers, has hurt, but the Ducks have been struggling to come away with wins in some tight ballgames of late. On Saturday, they received a quality start from Bobby Blevins and picked up two late runs in the eighth inning. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to overcome a 3-0 Bridgeport lead, as the Bluefish took the second game of the series 3-2.

Blevins was pretty strong for the most part on the mound. He walked only one batter and struck out six over his seven innings of work and threw 70 of his 113 pitches for strikes. However, his biggest struggle came with two outs. In the first inning, he retired Josh Prince and Bryant Nelson to start the game. Welington Dotel followed though with an opposite field solo home run to right, putting the ‘Fish on top 1-0. Blevins kept them off the scoreboard over the next three innings, but in the fifth, the Bluefish struck again. With two outs and a runner on first, Sean Burroughs stole second base; just his second steal of the year. That set the stage for Brandon Jones, who delivered a RBI double to increase the lead to two. An inning later, Dotel and John Alonso teamed up for back-to-back two-out doubles to round out the scoring for Bridgeport.

Long Island had their chances early in the game to respond to Bridgeport’s run in the first. However, they were held off the scoreboard until the eighth. Long Island was victimized by two nice plays in right field by Dotel, but they also squandered an opportunity in the fourth after Dan Lyons and Delta Cleary, Jr. both reached on bunt singles to open the inning. Then in the seventh, the Ducks had two one with two out, but Blake Davis struck out against former Duck Eric Niesen to end the threat. Long Island capitalized on a walk and a double to open the eighth inning, as Cleary, Jr. and Bryan Sabatella hit back-to-back sacrifice flies. Cody Puckett followed with a single to keep the inning alive, but Mike Blanke struck out looking against Erik Draxton to end the inning. Patrick Mincey preserved the lead in the ninth to earn his 20th save and give the Ducks their third straight defeat.

CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from Saturday’s game
CLICK HERE to watch postgame interview with Kevin Baez and Dan Lyons
CLICK HERE to view Saturday’s game box score

Sunday will feature the Ducks debut of Rich Hill. A former big leaguer, Hill began the season with the Syracuse Chiefs, Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. He pitched out of the bullpen but posted some pretty impressive numbers (see note below). Prior to pitching for Syracuse, he spent 10 seasons in the Major Leagues with a total of six different teams (Cubs, Red Sox, Angels, Indians, Yankees and Orioles). Most recently, he threw in 14 games for the Yankees in 2014 and posted a 1.69 ERA, striking out nine batters in five and one-third innings. Sunday will be his first start since the 2012 season, when he made three starts with Salem (A+, Red Sox) of the Carolina League.

With a win tonight, the Bluefish will secure themselves a win of the four-game series. Matt Iannazzo will be the starter for Bridgeport, making his 10th start of the season (21 appearances in 2015). Winless in his last three starts, the lefty has allowed 33 runs (32 earned) on 67 hits in 66 and two-thirds innings while walking 16 and striking out 42. Iannazzo sports a 4-5 record and a 4.32 ERA. His last outing came on July 28 in Lancaster, an 11-2 Barnstormers win. The 25-year-old suffered the loss, allowing four runs on eight hits in five and two-thirds innings. He walked none and struck out four.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

The Faithful Flock: Saturday’s crowd of 7,102 was the second-largest crowd of the season, trailing only the crowd of 7,443 on July 4. It was also the Ducks’ eighth sold out crowd of the season and 647th sellout all-time, which is an Atlantic League record. Since the inaugural 2000 season, a record 6,524,761 fans have come through the gates of Bethpage Ballpark. The Flock lead the Atlantic League in average attendance this season at 5,198, which is 28 more than Somerset.

Ducks vs. Bluefish: Tonight marks the 305th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Bluefish. The Bluefish currently lead the series 154-150, but the Ducks hold an 84-69 advantage at Bethpage Ballpark. It is also the 20th of 27 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. Bridgeport lead the series 11 to eight. This year marks the seventh edition of the Ferry Cup Series. The Ducks have won the Cup in four of the first six years, including each of the last two.

Home Cooking: Despite Saturday’s loss, the Ducks still have a home record of 32-15 this season. Their .681 home winning percentage is currently the best in the Atlantic League, tied with Somerset who is also 32-15. As a team, the Ducks have a .299 batting average and 3.24 ERA at home. Comparatively, they have a .261 batting average and a 3.29 ERA away from Bethpage Ballpark.

Frying the ‘Fish: Despite taking the loss on Saturday, Bobby Blevins continued to pitch well against the Bluefish in his Ducks career. The right-hander has now made five starts against Bridgeport, compiling a 2.60 ERA. In 34 and two-thirds innings of work, he has allowed 10 runs on 37 hits and just four walks while striking out 32. Saturday was his first start against the Bluefish at home.

Strikeout Artists: Ducks pitchers combined to strike out nine more Bluefish batters in Saturday’s game and have now struck out 18 batters in the series. Bobby Blevins struck out six, while Frank DeJiulio, Jr. added two and J.C. Romero collected one. As a pitching staff, the Ducks have struck out a league-high 738 batters in 2015. That’s 74 more than any other team in the Atlantic League (Lancaster, 664).

Dan’s the Man: Dan Lyons collected three hits on Saturday to pace the Ducks’ offense. He is now tied with Delta Cleary, Jr. and Reegie Corona for the most three-hit games on the Ducks this year with seven. The shortstop has now earned 18 multi-hit games in 2015. Lyons has reached base safely in nine consecutive games, earning at least one hit in eight of them.

Ducks Debut: Rich Hill will make his debut on the mound for the Ducks today. The left-hander spent 10 seasons in the Major Leagues and compiled a 24-22 record with a  4.72 ERA in 197 games (70 starts). The Boston native began the 2015 season with Syracuse (AAA, Nationals) and had a 2-2 record with a 2.91 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 25 games out of the bullpen.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Ducks’ Official YouTube Channel. Live streaming video and audio will be available online 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

#22 Fehlandt Lentini – LF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – CF
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#44 Bryan Sabatella – RF
#40 Steve McQuail – DH
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#26 Dan Coury – C
#6 Carlos Hughes – 2B

#32 Rich Hill

Bluefish

#12 Josh Prince – CF
#6 Bryant Nelson – 2B
#19 Welington Dotel – RF
#26 John Alonso – 1B
#25 Wilson Batista – DH
#22 Sean Burroughs – 3B
#9 Luis Al. Rodriguez – C
#16 Brandon Jones – LF
#4 Matt Wessinger – SS

#10 Matt Iannazzo – LHP

Keep it here for updates all game long from Bethpage Ballpark as the Ducks continue their four-game series against the Bridgeport Bluefish! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (5:06): TOP 1: Rich Hill throws his first pitch as a Duck, and we are underway from Bethpage Ballpark!

UPDATE (5:12): MID 1: Rich Hill strikes out the side in his first inning as a Duck! LI’s offense coming up!

UPDATE (5:30): BOT 2: Jon Griffin goes deep! A two-run shot to right-center field! 2-0 Ducks!

UPDATE (5:45): BOT 3: Dan Lyons with a BOMB to left! His solo homer leaves the park and makes it 3-0 Flock!

UPDATE (6:26): BOT 6: Dan Lyons, again! Another solo homer for the Ducks SS, his career-high eighth of the year! Ducks lead 4-0!

UPDATE (6:52): TOP 8: Bridgeport puts up a run on a bases loaded walk. 4-1 LI.

UPDATE (7:12): TOP 9: Wilson Batista hits a two-run single and the score is 4-3 Ducks.

UPDATE (7:21): FINAL: Patrick Crider comes in and wraps up the win! Ducks are victorious, 4-3!

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Posted on August 2, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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