Now in his fifth season with the Ducks, it appears Dan Lyons has found his stroke again. In 25 games entering Saturday, the 30-year old shortstop had 23 hits and 12 RBIs in 83 at-bats. His .277 average was up 34 points from his career average of .243.
Last season, Lyons hit .256 with 37 RBIs in 120 games. It was his highest average with the Ducks in any season in which he played more than 100 games. Lyons hit .283 in 86 games in 2011, his first season on Long Island.
The Rochester, Minnesota, native was drafted by the Nationals in 2007, spending four years in the low minor leagues before joining the Ducks. He was named 2012 Atlantic League Championship Series MVP after getting a pair of game-winning hits, helping the Ducks win the first of their back-to-back championships.
Entering yesterday's doubleheader with the Camden Riversharks, the Ducks sat in second place in the Liberty Division, four games behind the Somerset Patriots. The Ducks visit Somerset for a four-game set beginning Wednesday.
Friday night's win was the team's fifth consecutive after losing four straight and five out of six the week before. What have you guys 'found' again in the last week?
We got down on ourselves a little bit during the four-game losing streak, but we tried to keep our heads high and keep our confidence up. Sweeping York [this past week] was big for us. We're starting to get our edge back and feeling pretty good.
John Brownell struck out 12 batters Friday night, the most he's had as a Duck in the regular season. What's it like to stand at short when he's dealing like that?
It makes it pretty easy. When he's throwing that well and getting all those strikeouts, he's putting the pressure on the hitters. When the pressure gets on the hitters, they start to make mistakes. Instead of hitting balls hard, they'll try and do a little too much and maybe hit an easy ground ball. He's always throwing strikes, so we're always on our toes. That makes it easier to play behind.
After 24 games, your batting average was 29 points above your career average. What have you been doing well at the plate in the first month?
My approaches are a lot better. I'm feeling good and seeing the ball well . . . I'm trying to see the ball better and let the ball get a little bit deeper. Sometimes, when you try to do too much, you tend to get out in front and get yourself in a bad position to hit. I've just been keeping myself in a good position, seeing the ball deep, and been able to hit the ball the other way a lot better.
You play Somerset for the first time this season this week. What's so good about that rivalry?
It always seems to come down to us in the end. They're close to us in proximity. Ever since I've been here, they've been close to us talent-wise. We always seem to have really good games. Now that they've been in our division the last two years, it's building up to be more of a rivalry. That's what we like. We like to have that good competition. We look forward to playing them.
How important are those four games with Somerset, given that you've already struggled with another division foe, Bridgeport (winning only once in six tries), this season?
These games are very important. A lot of times, as a season goes on, everyone looks at the games that are yet to be played and how many you have to win. You start getting into countdowns. But, these games are very important. If you take care of these games, you don't have to worry about those countdowns. Each time we go out, we want to win that game, especially in our division.
Next Up: Camden at Ducks, 1:35 p.m.