It was a boom-or-bust kind of morning for Ducks starter Lee Sosa . . . but it was mostly bust. The Bronx-born righty missed a lot of bats during the annual camp-day 11:05 a.m. start, but he also missed a lot of plate. Yes, he struck out five batters in 2 2⁄3 innings — which is pretty good. But, he also walked seven — which is not.
Sosa allowed four runs (three earned) and two hits before being pulled after those 2 2⁄3 innings of the Ducks’ 7-2 loss to the New Britain Bees in the first game of a day-night doubleheader in front of 5,891 fans at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip.
Game 1 was played as a scheduled seven inning game — something the Atlantic League allows for doubleheaders.
Sosa threw 84 pitches in the brief outing — only 49 of which were strikes. The seven walks tied a franchise record for walks by a single pitcher, set by multiple Ducks but last accomplished by Ian Marshall in 2015. As a pitching staff, the Ducks walked 12 Bees, one off the franchise record for total walks.
“Too many,” Ducks manager Kevin Baez said of the walks. “It’s frustrating.”
As for Sosa, the control issue is mainly mechanical, Baez said. “Sometimes he comes across his body,” Baez said. “He’s got a good a fastball with good movement, but sometimes it seems like he’s having trouble getting it where it looks like a strike and the hitters attack it. Out of his hand it looks like a ball, for the most part.”
After a fairly dominant first inning where he struck out two and walked only one, Sosa’s control issues symptomatized in the second. Sosa walked four in that frame, including three straight that forced in Jonathan Galvez with the first run of the game. Brock Stassi’s two-run single drove in Ryan Wagner and Vicente Conde to give the Bees a 3-0 lead.
“I was just trying to get in a rhythm out there,” Sosa said. “I was really rolling in the first inning. I was just trying to get back into the rhythm again.”
Sosa’s control woes continued in the third. He walked two more batters, including a bases-loaded pass to Conde that forced in Jason Rogers and gave the Bees a 4-0 lead. Baez pulled Sosa after the Conde walk.
“He’s got good stuff,” Baez said. “In his last outing [July 13 against York], he had three innings of no-hit ball. That’s the frustrating part for him too. He’s right there.”
Bees starter Andy Van Hekken earned the win after allowing two runs and 10 hits in 5 1⁄3 innings. He struck out five and walked only one batter.
The Ducks scored two in the third to cut the Bees lead in half. Emilio Bonifacio homered to lead off the inning and Daniel Fields’ double drove in Travis Snider.
The Ducks bullpen didn’t fair much better than Sosa and couldn’t hold down New Britain. The Bees scored three in the fourth thanks, in part, to three more walks yielded by reliever Carlos Pimentel. Conde’s walk forced in Jamar Walton to give New Britain a 7-2 lead.
Ducks win nightcap. The Ducks bounced back to win the second game of the doubleheader — this one a nine-inning affair — 3-0. Ducks starter Jake Fisher bounced back from a rough All-Star Game performance with 6 1⁄3 scoreless innings. He struck out seven and walked none. Taylor Ard had all three RBIs for the Ducks. Francisco Rodriguez earned the save.