The Eric Gagne era on Long Island is over. Sixteen days after signing with the Ducks, the 41-year-old former National League Cy Young Award winner announced his retirement before Sunday’s 8-1 Ducks win over the Somerset Patriots at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip.
“He spoke to [Ducks manager] Kevin Baez and said that he gave it everything he had, his body wasn’t responding the way he hoped it would and he decided to call it a career,” Ducks President and general manager Michael Pfaff said. “He was a pro. We appreciated having him here and the effort he gave. We wish him nothing but the best.”
Gagne was 0-2 with a 12.27 ERA in five appearances. He allowed nine runs (five earned), seven hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 3 2⁄3 innings. In an appearance Saturday night that turned out to be his Ducks swan song, he allowed three runs, four hits and one walk in one-third of an inning in the Ducks 4-3 win over the Patriots.
“I’m sure the results weren’t what he had hoped for, but he wanted to give it one last shot to get back to the big leagues and we were happy to give him that opportunity,” Pfaff said.
Gagne won the 2003 National League Cy Young Award while with the Los Angeles Dodgers and set the major-league record for consecutive converted save opportunities, 84, between August 28, 2002 and July 5, 2004.
Meanwhile, the Ducks might have saved their first half championship hopes after a three-game sweep of the Liberty Division-leading Patriots. The Ducks (15-15) are now 2 1⁄2 games back of their chief rivals with six weeks left in the half. The first-half champion earns an automatic berth in the postseason.
“Anytime you’re playing Somerset, it’s always going to be a big series,” said Ducks leftfielder Angelo Songco, who went 1-for-3 with a three-run home run in Sunday’s win.
Alex Burg went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Dan Lyons went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run.
Ducks starter Tim Melville was masterful, allowing only three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over six shutout innings.
“I had a good slider today, probably the best it’s been all year,” he said. “I was able to get guys swinging on a few curveballs, so I got some strikeouts.”
A pair of early home runs gave Melville breathing room. Burg’s two-run homer in the second gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead and Songco’s three-run blast in the third put the Ducks ahead 5-0. Both home runs came off Patriots starter and loser David Kubiak, who allowed five runs, five hits and two walks in six innings.
“[Kubiak] was coming inside that at-bat,” Songco said of his home run. “He threw a cutter that really didn’t do too much, so I was able to get the barrel out and put it over the fence.”
The Ducks added three more runs in the eighth to blow the game open.