Saturday, May 21, 2016

L.I. Ducks: Flock Waddles Over Somerset Patriots in Series Opener

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Flock at the Gates!
Ducks lead Patriots 1-0
I - LID 9; SOM 3
II - Saturday @SOM
III - Sunday  @SOM

Long Island Ducks: Extra! News from the front ... Flock overwhelm first place Patriots in Friday night's series opener at Somerset.

On this night, Long Island's six-run third inning outburst and a dominant starting performance on the mound proved too much for the Liberty Division leaders.

This was only the Ducks second victory (2-6) over the Patriots this season, and their first at Somerset. I guess timing is indeed everything then, as Long Island's 9-3 win brings them to within 1 1/2 games of first place entering Saturday's action.

Starter Darin Downs climbed the hill against Somerset's Mickey Storey.  While the usually reliable Mickey Storey continues struggling for the Patriots this season, Downs is officially on a roll.  Darin improved his record to 3-1, and lowered his ERA from 3.25 down to a 3.02 mark.  He faced 30 batters, allowed a pair of earned runs on five hits and no walks, and fanned 11 batters.  It was his third straight winning decision, and comes on the heels of a seven inning, eight strikeout performance on May 14 against Southern Maryland.

  • Ducks pitchers have faced the second least batters this season, but lead the Atlantic League in strikeouts.  Ducks pitching also leads with a league low .231 average against.

Offensively, Cody Puckett and Matt Blanke combined to go 6 for 10 at the plate, and registered eight RBI, with four each.  Five Ducks batters posted multiple hit games.  Lew Ford accounted for the ninth Ducks run with a 2 for 5 effort and RBI.

  • The Ducks have now scored nine runs in each of their last two games.  Somerset first, followed by Long Island, are the top two scoring teams in the league.  They both have hit 17 team home runs.  Somerset's .748 team OPS leads the circuit, however, while the Ducks .723 mark ranks fifth.

After starting the season 13-0, the Patriots have gone 6-10 since, and are 4-6 over their last ten games.  After starting the season 1-6, the Ducks have gone 16-5 since.

Obviously, the trick for Long Island would be to strike while Somerset is down by winning this weekend series, or even sweeping it, because they will not face them again over the remainder of the first half of the season.

That will leave the Ducks and Patriots scrambling to outpace each other against the remaining competition.

Michael Pfaff's latest acquisitions forcing Coach Baez into reshuffling infield deck.

Recently signed, and former Met, Ruben Gotay went 0 for 5 Friday, with two strikeouts.  This, however, was the first time he failed to hit safely as a member of the Ducks.  He went 7 for 15 during Long Island's four game split against the Sugar Land Skeeters previous to Friday, and is now batting an even .300 since arriving.

Gotay was apparently brought in to solidify second base along with Matt Wessinger.  But, wasn't that accomplished by signing Tyler Colvin, which allowed Sean Burroughs to shift over to third, and thereby allow Cody Puckett to play second?

Well ... Colvin started Friday's game in left field, Burroughs was back at first, Puckett played third, while Lew Ford DH'd.  That came after Cody Puckett DH's twice against Sugar Land.  Coach Baez is clearly spelling positional players with turns at DH, but Colvin playing outfield is not something I'd   entertain too often.  Then again, Anthony Vega's play of late seems to support Coach Baez's decision to pencil in Colvin for occasional spot starts in the outfield.  In fact, I'd be willing to bet Michael Pfaff is searching for Vega's replacement at this very moment.

In the meantime, the GM has afforded Baez a few options.  We'll see how Coach continues utilizing them.

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