Down two games to none in a best-of-five series is, no doubt, the worst scenario any team can find itself in — both from a mathematical and morale perspective. But that’s the Ducks’ situation after a blown lead and a lackluster performance in the first two games of the Atlantic League Championship Series in Sugar Land, Texas, earlier this week.
Beginning Friday night in Central Islip, the Ducks will try to stave off elimination and inject some life into their series with the Sugar Land Skeeters. After blowing a two-run eighth-inning lead and losing Game 1 in 13 innings, the Ducks looked lifeless in a 10-0 loss in Game 2 Wednesday night.
The Ducks have been here before, albeit with generally unfavorable results. The Game 2 loss put them in danger of being swept in the championship series for the third season in a row. They were swept by the York Revolution last season and by Sugar Land two seasons ago. However, the Ducks were down 2-0 in the 2016 Liberty Division Championship Series against the Somerset Patriots and returned home to win all three games and the series. So it can be done.
Ducks manager Kevin Baez said Thursday morning that he believes his team can bounce back.
“We’ve always been a team that, whether it be late in the game or a series, have fought back,” Baez said. “I expect nothing less than that — to go out there Friday, put up a good game, get a ‘W’ and move the series forward. I have confidence in my guys. Now we just have to go out there and prove it.”
The Ducks will send righthander Lorenzo Barcelo (2-2, 4.75 ERA) to the mound in Game 3 against Lucas Irvine (2-1, 2.68), who last pitched against the Ducks on Sept. 16 and allowed four runs (three earned) and five hits in six innings.
Barcelo allowed three homers in his last start, a 5-3 loss to Somerset in Game 4 of the Liberty Division Championship Series last Saturday. He gave up five runs, nine hits and a walk in six innings, striking out five.
In Barcelo’s last start against Sugar Land, an 8-5 Ducks win on Sept. 16, he allowed two runs (one earned) and three hits and didn’t record a strikeout or a walk in three innings. But in his start against them on Sept. 11, he allowed two runs (one earned), two hits and two walks in six innings, striking out nine.
“He’s got a good slider and good movement on his fastball,” Baez said. “If he gives us that game that he pitched on [Sept. 11], I think we’ll be in good shape.”