When Bobby Blevins is on the hill, the Ducks bullpen can rest easy. Before Saturday night, Blevins went nine innings in both of his last two starts. Unfortunately for the righthander, only one of those outings resulted in a win.
A two-out home run by Bridgeport's Austin Gallagher in the ninth inning of Blevins' July 29 start sent the game into extra innings and the starter to the lonely limbo of a no decision. Blevins bounced back last Sunday, allowing one run, five hits and two walks with two strikeouts in a complete game victory over York. The win improved his record to 6-3 and lowered his ERA to 3.40. Entering Saturday night's start against York, Blevins had thrown 1241/3 innings with 75 strikeouts and 23 walks.
The Briarcliff native was drafted by the Dodgers in the 13th round of the 2007 draft. He spent four years in the organization, reaching as high as Triple-A Albuquerque in 2010.
What's been the biggest reason you've able to go so deep into games?
Pitching to contact. I'm not afraid of contact. I'm throwing lots of quality strikes, trusting my fielders behind me, getting ahead in the count, and attacking the hitters.
What does 'pitching to contact' entail?It's not just throwing strikes. It's quality strikes, location, going in and out and up and down. It's changing speeds, using all my pitches throughout the whole game, and getting the hitters off balance.
What's it like playing for manager Kevin Baez?
KB is awesome. He's a players' manager. He wants to win. That's what I love about him. He's a New York guy and has very good knowledge of baseball. He and [pitching coach] Steve Foucault work well together. Baez won back-to-back championships with different teams. It's hard in this league when you have so much personnel changing to have a steady routine, but he does a great job of managing the schedule. He's a great manager and a great person off the field.
The Ducks were 7 1/2 games back of Somerset in the Liberty Division entering Friday's game with Southern Maryland. Do you look at the standings often?
I take a glance at them, honestly . . . At the end of the day, I want to win. I'm here to win. I don't care if it's independent baseball or not. Every time I go out on the field, I expect to win and I hope that the players around me have the same expectations. I know that [Baez] certainly does, that's why I like playing for him. The whole organization, coming from [president/general manager] Mike Pfaff on down, expects to win. We're always in it. It's tough because we went through that 13-game skid, but at the end of the day, it comes down to execution . . .
We have a lot of talent here.
We just have to execute better. We have a great pitching staff, we just have to close the door when we have wins in hand. We have to break out on offense. We have to get those guys in from third base with less than two outs. When we score two runs early, we have to keep adding on later in the game. That's the only reason why we lost [during that losing streak]. We know we have a good team and we're going to start stringing things together.
Next up: The Ducks face York in the second of a three-game set Sunday night. They return home on Tuesday for three games with the Freedom Division-leading Sugar Land Skeeters and three with the Liberty Division-leading Somerset Patriots.