Ducks fans got their first look at two things Friday night: new manager Wally Backman and the Atlantic League’s new extra-innings rule. They presumably liked Backman, who got a rousing ovation during pregame introductions, and probably weren’t so keen on the rule, which, in part, led to the Ducks’ 6-5 loss to the York Revolution in front of 5,226 at Bethpage Ballpark in the team’s home opener.
Starting this season, the player who made the last out in the previous inning is placed at second base to begin each extra inning. York scored in the top of the 10th when Ryan Dent moved to third on a one-out single by J.P. Sportman and scored on Alexi Casilla’s groundout.
“It’s all about collecting the data. It’s what it’s really for,” Backman said. “I’m not going to say I’m 100 percent convinced this is a good idea, but in a league like this, what they’re trying to do because the seasons are so long and there are so few days off is to see if it speeds up the game.”
The Ducks failed to score in their half of the 10th, as Mike Olt struck out with David Washington on third to end the game.
It was the second time this season that the Ducks went to extra innings. They beat Lancaster, 5-4, on Wednesday in 10 innings.
“It’s exciting for sure . . . It puts you in those high-leverage situations early,” Washington said. “Sometimes you get those kind of dead innings in extras. So far, two games and I’ve enjoyed it.”
The Ducks tied the score at 5 with two runs in the bottom of the ninth. Daniel Fields’ solo home run with one out cut York’s lead to 5-4 and Steve Lombardozzi’s double drove in Rey Fuentes to force the extra inning.
The Ducks fell behind 5-0 in the third inning. It was a rough night for Ducks starter Darin Downs, a former major-leaguer. He allowed five runs (four earned), five hits and two walks in three innings, striking out three. Downs’ throwing error led to the first run of the game in the first inning as he tried to catch Sportman stealing third but threw the ball away, allowing Sportman to score.
York scored three runs in the second. Justin Trapp’s double drove in Welington Dotel and Nate Coronado, and Sportman’s sacrifice fly gave York a 4-0 lead. Downs’ wild pitch in the third allowed Melky Mesa to race home and put the Ducks in a 5-0 hole.
In the fourth, Washington launched an opposite-field two-run home run on a 3-and-1 pitch, cutting the York lead to 5-2. It was the second consecutive year that Washington has homered in the home opener.
Tim Adleman kept the Ducks in the game after Downs exited. The former Red yielded one hit in four shutout innings, striking out six.
Said Backman, “They fought back. These guys are not quitters. Those players are hand- picked by me and Mike [Pfaff, the Ducks’ president and general manager]. We know what they’re all about. You go after the players that you know are going to fight to the end, and that’s what they did tonight.”