Game 96: Ducks at Skeeters

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Constellation Field continued to be a tough place for the Ducks to play on Wednesday night. After a long day of travel to Sugar Land, the Ducks struggled to get the offense going against Roy Merritt and the Skeeters bullpen, dropping the series opener 4-2. It marked the sixth time in seven games this year at Sugar Land’s home ballpark that the Ducks were defeated, including five consecutive games, all of which have been decided by two runs or less.

Merritt got off to a dominant start against the Ducks’ offense, retiring each of the first nine hitters he faced and striking out four. However, Long Island immediately got to the lefty the second time through the order. Fehlandt Lentini singled to open the fourth, and Delta Cleary, Jr. walked, though it came after Lentini was caught stealing between first and second on an apparent missed sign. Dan Lyons grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but the Ducks managed to come through and take a 2-1 lead in the game. Cody Puckett’s double off the wall in left tied the score, and Bryan Sabatella’s RBI single to right-center plated Puckett with the go-ahead run. From then on though, Long Island could not get much going. They had runners at first and second with one out in the fifth, but Sabatella and Mike Blanke grounded into fielder’s choices to end the threat. Then, Merritt, Ramon Delgado and Derrick Loop retired the final nine hitters in order to seal the win.

Ian Marshall pitched well for the Ducks to earn his fourth consecutive quality start, but it wasn’t enough. He allowed a run in the first on a RBI double by Delwyn Young but settled in after that to record three straight scoreless frames. Included in that were back-to-back strikeouts of Johan Limonta and Renny Osuna in the fourth to strand runners at the corners. However, the biggest pitch of the game came in the fifth. With one out and the bases empty, Marshall threw a 2-2 fastball to that appeared to be strike three against Jeff Dominguez. However, home plate umpire Greg Oros, who drew the ire of the Ducks all night and was the same official who incorrectly ruled an out on Randy Ruiz’s bloop single during the Ducks’ last visit, ruled the pitch a ball. Marshall ended up walking Dominguez and then Amadeo Zazueta. That set the stage for Young, who singled to right to tie up the game at two. Chris Wallace followed with a sac fly to give the Skeeters the lead for good. A seventh inning solo homer by Young off of J.C. Romero capped a big night at the plate for the former big leaguer.

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

Looking to even up the series, the Ducks will send former Major Leaguer Darin Downs to the mound. It will be a big start for the southpaw, as he has struggled of late on the mound. He took the loss his last time out, giving up six runs on seven hits and two walks in just four innings innings while striking out five, falling to the Patriots 7-3 on Thursday, July 30. Downs has lost each of his last three starts and has a 6.11 ERA in four total starts since joining the Flock. Thursday will be his first time faced the Skeeters.

Opposing Downs will be Skeeters veteran Matt Wright, who has also struggled this year for Sugar Land. The normally reliable righty is just 5-5 with a 4.37 ERA in 17 starts this season. He too has lost three starts in a row and has a combined ERA of 8.40 in those three outings. Wright lasted just three and two-thirds innings in his most recent start on Friday at Southern Maryland, giving up eight runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk while striking out six. The 33-year-old has surrendered 96 hits in 84 and one-third innings, so he has a tendency to allow a lot of batters to reach base. This season, he has made just one start against the Ducks, taking a no-decision on June 25 in Texas. He pitched six innings in that start, giving up four runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts in the outing.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Skeeters: Tonight marks the 74th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Skeeters. Sugar Land currently leads the series 40-33 and holds a 26-11 advantage at Constellation Field. Tonight is also the 14th of 19 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. The Skeeters now hold a seven to six advantage in the season series.

Home Cooking: Monday’s victory improved the Ducks’ home record this season to 34-15. Their .694 home winning percentage is currently the best in the Atlantic League. Somerset is second at .681 (32-15). As a team, the Ducks have a .296 batting average and 3.21 ERA at home. Comparatively, they have a .259 batting average and a 3.31 ERA away from Bethpage Ballpark.

Now, that’s High Quality Pitching: Ian Marshall turned in his fourth straight quality start on Wednesday with six innings of three-run ball. In his last four starts, the right-hander has compiled a 3.38 ERA, yielding nine earned runs over 24 innings. He has given up 25 hits and 13 walks in that span while striking out 16. Eight of Marshall’s 18 starts this year have been quality starts.

Off to the Races: Delta Cleary, Jr. stole his 22nd base of the season on Wednesday when he swiped second in the sixth inning. He is second on the team in steals this year, three behind Bryan Sabatella, and ranks fourth in the Atlantic League. As a team, the Ducks have stolen 96 bases in 2015. That total is good for second in the league, trailing only the Bridgeport Bluefish (99).

Oh, What a Relief He Is: Patrick Crider tossed another scoreless inning of relief in the eighth inning on Wednesday. The southpaw has given up just one run in his last eight appearances and two runs in his last 11. In those 11 games, Crider has a 1.80 ERA, giving up five hits and six walks in 10 innings with 10 strikeouts. He has compiled a 1.33 ERA in 22 road games this season.

Swatting the Skeeters: Bryan Sabatella continued his hot hitting against the Skeeters in 2015 with a RBI single on Wednesday. In 10 games against Sugar Land, the Long Island native is batting .350 (14-for-40) with one homer, seven RBI a team-leading eight runs, four doubles and seven walks. Sabatella has now earned at least one hit in 13 of his last 16 games overall dating back to July 18.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Ducks’ official YouTube channel. Live streaming 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 – RF
#5   Delta Cleary, Jr. – CF
#12 Dan Lyons – DH
#2   Cody Puckett – 3B
#44 Bryan Sabatella – LF
#9   Mike Blanke – C
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#11 Blake Davis – SS
#6   Carlos Hughes – 2B

#23 Darin Downs – LHP

Skeeters

#14 Jeff Dominguez – LF
#9   Amadeo Zazueta – SS
#24 Delwyn Young – 1B
#20 Chris Wallace – C
#35 Daryle Ward – DH
#5   Kevin Russo – RF
#4   Renny Osuna – 2B
#6   Patrick Palmeiro – 3B
#17 Denny Almonte – CF

#34 Matt Wright – RHP

Keep it here for updates throughout the game, as the Ducks and Skeeters play game two of their four-game series. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (7:09): We are underway at Constellation Field! Game two of the series between the Ducks and Skeeters.

UPDATE (7:32): No score after two innings of play. Darin Downs and Matt Wright have each retired the first six hitters that they have faced.

UPDATE (8:02): Neither side has pushed across a run through four. Ducks have stranded a pair in the last two innings. Downs has allowed just one walk.

UPDATE (8:16): TOP 5: The Ducks strike for three runs! Throwing errors from Matt Wright & Chris Wallace & a RBI double by Delta Cleary, Jr. put the Flock up 3-0!

UPDATE (8:30): BOT 5: Sugar Land is able to cut the lead to 3-2 on a pair of run-scoring wild pitches with two outs in the inning.

UPDATE (8:48): TOP 6: A two-out, two-run triple by Fehlandt Lentini gives the Ducks their three-run lead back at 5-2!

UPDATE (9:09): TOP 7: Ducks tack on another run thanks to a sacrifice fly off the bat of Bryan Sabatella! 6-2 Flock!

UPDATE (9:33): 1-2-3 eighth inning for Ryan Kussmaul after a 1-2-3 seventh inning from Nick Struck! Onto the ninth with the Ducks leading 6-2!

UPDATE (9:49): FINAL: J.C. Romero works a scoreless ninth inning to seal the deal! Ducks defeat the Skeeters 6-2 to even up the series at one!

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Posted on August 6, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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