John Brownell is officially the Ducks' workhorse

Long Island Ducks starting pitcher John Brownell throws Long Island Ducks starting pitcher John Brownell throws a pitch to the Somerset Patriots in the second inning of Game 5 of the Atlantic League Championship Series in Bridgewater, New Jersey, on Sunday, September 29, 2013. (Photo by Ray Stubblebine) Photo Credit: Ray Stubblebine

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If more evidence is needed to call John Brownell the Ducks' horse, consider an Aug. 8 outing against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. He threw 146 pitches, 88 of them strikes, en route to a 6-0 win. In a world in which pitch counts are put under the microscope, Brownell was able to blow through nine shutout innings, allowing only four hits, and was no worse for wear the next time out.

In a 3-0 loss to the Sugar Land Skeeters on Wednesday, the righthander tossed seven innings, allowing the runs on one swing by Delwyn Young in the first inning. Brownell finished the game, which included a 1-hour, 7-minute rain delay, yielding three hits and striking out six. He threw 115 pitches.

Entering Friday, the 30-year-old led the Atlantic League in wins, posting a 12-7 mark and a 3.64 ERA.

Brownell, who was named the MVP of the 2013 Atlantic League Championship Series, was drafted by the Phillies in the 27th round of the 2006 draft.

Entering Friday, the Ducks were 14-21, last in the four-team Liberty Division and eight games behind the Somerset Patriots. They were two games behind the Lancaster Barnstormers in the wild-card race.

146 pitches is a pretty high number. Do you recall ever throwing that many pitches in a single start?

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Yeah. I've thrown over 140 pitches quite a few times. I wouldn't say a lot, but I've done it a handful of times. I felt fine afterward. It was just like any other start.

Is pitch count overrated?

For grown men, yes. For kids, no. You don't want to overuse kids. They're still developing. It's important for them. It's important [for us] early on in the season, when you're still trying to build up. You don't want a guy going out there in his second or third start and throwing 120 or 130 pitches . . . In the middle of the season, when you have a bunch of starts under your belt, I think it's all right. It just depends on how you feel.

Entering Friday, you were second in the Atlantic League with 105 strikeouts. What do you attribute that to?

I'm up there in innings pitched (153 1/3, first in the league, entering Friday), so that helps, because I don't think my strikeout per nine inning rate (6.2) is as good as some of the guys up there. I throw four different pitches and mix it up early and often. I feel like that helps out. When you can come in with a fastball off your off-speed, that helps out a lot.

You're going to see a lot of the Somerset Patriots in the next two weeks. Do you guys think this will be a make-or-break two weeks, especially because of how many teams you're chasing in the division?

All you can take care of is today. Yeah, you know what's ahead, but you can't do anything about that. You've got to win today and that's the goal. When tomorrow comes, we'll worry about tomorrow. That's how I approach it, and it seems like most of the guys are approaching it that way. That's how you keep a positive attitude so it doesn't become overwhelming. When you look at the big picture, sometimes it can be overwhelming with what you have to overcome, instead of taking it step-by-step.Next up: The Ducks finish a three-game set with Somerset Sunday night at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip. Ray Navarrete is scheduled to throw out the first pitch.

Navarrete, who retired after last season, isthe Ducks' all-time leader in games played, as well as every major offensive category.

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