Somerset Patriots (56-43) vs. Sugar Land Skeeters (65-33)
LHP Duane Below (7-4, 4.23 ERA) vs. LHP James Russell (6-3, 2.47 ERA)
Thursday, August 16, 2018 • Constellation Field • 7:05 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT: The Skeeters dropped Game 6 of their seven-game series against the Somerset Patriots on Wednesday night at Constellation Field with a 2-0 loss. Konner Wade took the loss for the Skeeters while Vince Molesky collected the win for the Patriots and Ryan Kelly notched the save. It was the first time the Skeeters were shut out since a 1-0 loss at York on July 20.
BARNES BASH: Barrett Barnes snapped his hitting streak at 12 games in Wednesday's loss and went 17-for-45 (.378) with 14 runs, two doubles, four home runs and 12 RBIs over the streak. The 12-game hitting streak was the longest from a Skeeters hitter this season. Barnes has also homered in three of his last nine games and eight of his last 24 games. The seventh-year pro has set his professional single-season career high with 12 home runs, surpassing his previous high of nine home runs, which he's accomplished twice, with the last time coming in 2016 with Double-A Altoona (PIT). Barnes' 12 home runs place him in a tie for ninth in the Atlantic League. Barnes is also tied for second in the league with 57 walks, is second with 69 runs and is fourth with a .401 on-base percentage.
RUSSELL THE MUSCLE: Skeeters left-hander James Russell is set to get the start in Thursday's series finale and has gone 5-3 with a 2.62 ERA over 12 starts since joining the starting rotation on June 6. In eight appearances (six starts) at Constellation Field this season, Russell has gone 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA (40 IP). Out of pitchers in the Atlantic League with at least 75 innings pitched, Russell's 2.48 ERA ranks third-lowest.
COCO LOCO: Albert "Coco" Cordero went 1-for-4 in Wednesday's loss and has a hit in 12 of his last 15 games, going 18-for-53 (.340), with nine runs, three doubles and eight RBIs over that span. Cordero ranks ninth in the Atlantic League with 52 RBIs. Cordero's 52 RBIs on the year stand as a career high in his 11th professional season, surpassing his previous high of 44 RBIs in 2011 while playing with Single-A Savannah (NYM). Cordero's 10 home runs on the 2018 season also constitute a professional career high, surpassing his previous high of eight home runs while playing for the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League in 2010.
ATLANTIC LEAGUE LEADERS: The Skeeters enter Thursday with a 65-33 record, which leads Somerset by 7 1/2 games for the best record in the Atlantic League this season. Having already won the first-half Freedom Division title, the Skeeters' 24-11 record in the second half is also tops in the Atlantic League. The Skeeters as a team lead the league in the following hitting categories: Batting Average (.281), Runs (519), Hits (920), Doubles (169), Home Runs (96), Total Bases (1,397), On-Base Percentage (.359) and Slugging Percentage (.426). The Skeeters also lead the league in the following pitching categories: ERA (3.06), Shutouts (12) and Opponents Batting Average (.240).
EVERYBODY GETS JUAN: Through his first 25 games with the Skeeters, Juan Silverio has hit .327/.359/.531 with five home runs and 17 RBIs. Silverio has driven in a run in five of his last seven games, while also going on a seven-game hitting streak, and has gone 13-for-29 (.448) with nine RBIs over that span. Silverio's nine RBIs over the last seven days are the most in the Atlantic League over that span. Silverio also delivered a walk-off single in the 11th inning of last Friday's win over Somerset -- the Skeeters' third walk-off win of the season.
THE PUNISHER: Skeeters right-hander Mark Haynes threw a scoreless inning in Wednesday's loss and has allowed just one run through his first 12 appearances (11.2 IP) since rejoining the Skeeters on July 14 (0.77 ERA). Haynes has also struck out 14 batters over that stretch while allowing six walks and five hits. Haynes is appearing in his third straight season with the Skeeters and has gone 3-5 with a 2.92 ERA in 70 career appearances with Sugar Land (64.2 IP).
AMAZING AUGUST: The Skeeters are tied for the Atlantic League lead with a 10-4 record in August. The Skeeters also lead the league with a .321 team batting average and a 2.82 staff ERA in August. The Skeeters led the Atlantic League with a 17-8 July record as well and were tied for the league lead with an 18-10 record in June.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Skeeters own a 43-13 (.768) record at Constellation Field this season, which is the best home record in the Atlantic League. The Skeeters have won 21 of their last 25 home games and have hit .293/.371/.423 with 43 home runs through 56 home games this season while the pitching staff owns a 2.41 ERA. The Skeeters went on a 12-game home winning streak (June 27-July 19), which is the longest home winning streak in the league this year. The Skeeters' best home record in franchise history came in 2013 when the team went 50-21 (.704) at Constellation Field.
LATE-INNING LOCKDOWN: The Skeeters are 53-4 when leading after five innings, which leads the Atlantic League. They also lead the Atlantic League with a 55-1 record when leading after six innings, 57-2 record when leading after seven innings and are second in the league with a 57-1 record when leading after eight innings
2018 VS. SOMERSET: The Skeeters are 7-8 against the Somerset Patriots this season, going 5-4 at Constellation Field and 2-4 at TD Bank Ballpark. After losing their first six of nine games against the Patriots this season, they've won four of their last six against them. The Skeeters have hit .271/.330/.382 with 13 homers in 15 games against Somerset while the pitching staff owns a 3.38 ERA. Juan Silverio has gone 11-for-24 (.458) with two doubles and five RBIs in six games, Denis Phipps has gone 14-for-38 (.368) with a homer and an RBI through 12 games and Matt Chavez has gone 15-for-44 (.341) with three homers and 10 RBIs through 13 games.