The ‘L’s’ were mounting for the Long Island Ducks, and then ‘the two L’s’ — Lyons and Lew — re-entered the lineup. Dan Lyons and Lew Ford, both integral parts of the Ducks offense, returned from hamstring injuries over the last 10 days, but the two have seen vastly differing results.
Lyons, sticking to the timetable doctors prescribed at the time of the injury, returned last Thursday after missing 14 games. The shortstop, who enjoyed a breakout season last year, wasted no time racking up hits. Entering Thursday night’s series finale with the York Revolution, Lyons was hitting .615 (8-for-13) since returning.
“Coming back from an injury, you always worry about how well you’re going to see the ball,” Lyons said. “At the plate, I just try and slow everything down. I just let the ball get deep, and I’ve been able to see it well. That’s the biggest adjustment you usually have to make, and I’ve been able to get past that pretty well so far.”
Ford has had a bit of a rougher go of it. Feeling ‘good enough’ to play and looking to spark the Ducks slumping lineup, the 39-year-old former Twin and Oriole returned a week ago Saturday as designated hitter in the Ducks 2-1 win in Bridgeport. Before Ford’s return, the Ducks had lost six of their last eight games.
“I thought I could help the team,” Ford said Thursday. “We’re in a playoff race now, with only a few games left (in the first half). I thought I wouldn’t injure it any worse and help the team.”
Entering the weekend series with Sugar Land, Ford was hitting .118 (2-for-17) since returning. Although the numbers aren’t there, the ‘spark’ has been. Despite not being healthy enough to play every day, the Ducks were 4-2 in the first six games after Ford returned, including splitting a four-game series with York, who entered the weekend with the best record in the Atlantic League.
“I haven’t necessarily hit great, but it seams like we’ve been hitting pretty good since (my return),” Ford said. “We’ve been winning some games. That was part of the decision (to come back).”
Ford said running the bases is still a struggle.
“That’s a lot of the game,” Ford said. “You can hit it, but you have to run if you do. I usually run pretty well and I’m not at that level right now. ”
The Mets’ Steven Matz isn’t the only Long Islander lighting up a professional mound in New York lately. Yaphank’s Bruce Kern, who began the season in the bullpen, has experienced a seamless transition into the starting rotation. Kern, who has bounced between relief and the rotation in both his seasons with the Ducks, is 2-1 with a 2.29 ERA and 32 strikeouts in eight starts.
Kern allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings, struck out five, and walked none in the Ducks 8-5 victory over York Wednesday.
Kern, who was in spring training with the Kansas City Royals, has allowed two runs or less in each of his last four starts.
“He doesn’t make any excuses,” Ducks manager Kevin Baez said. “He takes the ball when given the ball and tries to get the guys out. That’s just being a professional and a competitor, going out there when the coach tells you to go out there. When the skipper tells you to do a job, you do it.”
The Ducks close out the first half against the Sugar Land Skeeters Sunday night at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip. They begin the second half Monday night in Lancaster.