Sugar Land Skeeters (81-45, 0-1) vs. Lancaster Barnstormers (74-52, 1-0)
LHP James Russell (8-4, 2.36 ERA) vs. RHP Jonathan Albaladejo (9-7, 4.41 ERA)
Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 • Clipper Magazine Stadium • 6:00 p.m. CT
GAME 1: The Skeeters dropped Game 1 of the Freedom Division Championship Series by a score of 5-3 on Tuesday night at Clipper Magazine Stadium. Barnstormers left-hander, Nate Reed, carried a no-hitter through 6 1/3 innings while Blake Gailen hit two home runs to help get Lancaster out to a 5-0 lead. The Skeeters fired back in the top of the ninth as Juan Silverio belted a three-run homer with nobody out in the inning. The Skeeters brought the go-ahead run to the plate with two outs in the ninth but Lancaster right-hander Kevin Munson completed the save. Dallas Beeler took the loss for the Skeeters.
DOWN, BUT NOT OUT: In 2014, the Skeeters lost Game 1 of the Freedom Division Championship Series to the York Revolution only to come back and win the series in five games. The Skeeters went on to lose to the Barnstormers in the 2014 Atlantic League Championship Series.
YOU WANT TO TALK PLAYOFFS?: The Skeeters are making their fourth trip to the postseason in the franchise's seven-year history. Their last trip to the playoffs came in 2016 when they went on to win the Atlantic League title, the lone league title in franchise history. The Skeeters are 9-9 in the postseason in franchise history. They enter the postseason after an 81-45 record, which was seven games ahead of the Barnstormers for the best record in the Atlantic League this season.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: The Skeeters won both the first-half and second-half Freedom Division titles this season, joining the 2013 Skeeters as the only other team in franchise history to win both titles They were the first two Freedom Division titles under first-year manager Pete Incaviglia. The Skeeters have won five Freedom Division title in franchise history: 2013 (first and second half), 2016 (second half), 2018 (first and second half).
VS. LANCASTER: The Skeeters went 11-8 against the Barnstormers in the regular season, going 8-3 at Constellation Field and 3-5 at Clipper Magazine Stadium. The Skeeters have hit .292/.370/.436 against the Barnstormers this year while the pitching staff owns a 3.62 ERA (159 IP), The Skeeters own an 0-3 all-time record against the Barnstormers in the postseason, with the only meeting coming in the 2014 Freedom Division Championship Series. The Skeeters own a 67-69 all-time regular-season record against the Barnstormers.
LET'S STORM THE BARN: Anthony Giansanti has hit .359 (23-for-64) with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 18 games against Lancaster this year. Matt Chavez has hit .321 (25-for-78) with a homer and 13 RBIs in 20 games and Juan Silverio has hit .345 (10-for-29) with three doubles, a home run and five RBIs in eight games. James Russell, who's scheduled to get the start Wednesday, is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA in three games.
BIG-LEAGUE CHOPS: The Skeeters have nine players on their 2018 postseason roster with Major League service time: RHP Dallas Beeler (CHC), RHP Jorge De Leon (HOU), RHP Jean Machi (SF, BOS, SEA), RHP Michael Mariot (KC, PHI), C Derek Norris (OAK, SD, TB), OF Denis Phipps (CIN), LHP Dan Runzler (SF, PIT), LHP James Russell (CHC, ATL, PHI), RHP Matt West (TEX, LAD) and RHP Alex Wimmers (MIN).
WHAT A YEAR: The Skeeters ended their season at 81-45, which was the second-best regular-season record in team history. The best record in Skeeters history came in 2013 (95-45) when the Skeeters set Atlantic League records in regular-season wins and winning percentage (.679). The Skeeters eclipsed 80 wins for just the second time in the franchise's seven-year history. Along with 2013, the Skeeters also reached 80 wins in 2014, but both of those 80-win campaigns came in 140-game regular seasons while there are just 126 games in the 2018 regular season.
MATTer OF FACT: Skeeters first baseman Matt Chavez ended the 2018 regular season with a .320 batting average, which is the highest qualifying batting average to end a season in franchise history. Ricky Hague had previously held the record with a .311 average in 2016. Chavez also ended the regular season with 151 hits, which placed him in second in the Atlantic League. The 151 hits were a career high for Chavez, who's amidst his fifth professional season, and were fourth-most in a single season in Skeeters history.
RUSSELL THE MUSCLE: James Russell ended the regular season with a 2.36 ERA to clinch the Atlantic League ERA title. His 2.36 ERA is the lowest qualifying ERA in Skeeters history and he's also the first player in Skeeters history to win the league ERA title. David Pauley's 2.66 ERA in 2014 had previously served as the lowest single-season qualifying ERA in the franchise's seven-year history.
RECORDS GALORE: The Skeeters set single-season team records in batting average (.273), on-base percentage (.349) and ERA (3.11). The team's previous records for batting average and on-base percentage came in 2016 (.267/.333) and the previous ERA record came in 2013 (3.20). The Skeeters ended the regular season leading the league in on-base percentage, which was the first time in team history that they led the league in on-base percentage. The Skeeters also led the league in ERA, which was fourth time in team history that they led the league in ERA (2018, 2017, 2014, 2013).
FEAR THE BEARD: Felipe Paulino collected 33 saves this season, breaking the franchise's single-season record initially set by Derrick Loop in 2016. Paulino also led the Atlantic League with his 33 saves. The former Major Leaguer's 1.18 ERA is the lowest of any pitcher in the league with at least 50 innings pitched. Paulino also struck out 31 batters over his last 22 innings pitched. Somerset's Jon Hunton owns the Atlantic League single-season record with 49 saves (2013).
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