The Sugar Land Skeeters went 2-4 last week at home against the Long Island Ducks to finish the regular season.
“I’ve just been managing the team right now just for playoffs. Most of our starting pitchers only went three innings,” manager Pete Incaviglia said. “With the situation we’re in, I’m just trying to get out of the these last few games and make sure everybody’s healthy for the playoffs.”
Despite the abysmal ending, the Skeeters still finish as the best team in the Atlantic League, having won both halves of play in the Freedom Division and finishing with the best overall record and the top seed in the playoffs. The Skeeters were 40-23 in the second half and 81-45 overall.
It marked the fifth divisional title in the seven-year franchise history and second this season, as the Skeeters clinched the first-half Freedom Division title with a 41-22 record. The two divisional titles are the first under Incaviglia in his first season as the Skeeters manager. It also marks the second time in franchise history that the team won both the first-half and second-half titles in one season, with the other time coming in 2013. The Skeeters’ other three divisional titles came in 2013 (first and second half) and 2016 (second half) when they won their first Atlantic League championship.
The best record in team 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 season games while there are just 126 games this year.
The Skeeters have struggled with the Ducks, going 8-10 against Long Island this season. They were 4-5 at Constellation Field and 4-5 at Bethpage Ballpark. The Ducks are the only team in the league that the Skeeters don’t own a winning record against in 2018.
The Skeeters’ 5-3 win over the Ducks on Sept. 12 clinched the second half title. The Ducks clinched the final playoff spot in the Liberty Division by beating the Skeeters 5-3 in 11 innings on Saturday.
The Skeeters stumbled from the start with the Ducks, falling 5-4 on Tuesday. Closer Felipe Paulino, who owns the Skeeters record for saves at 33, and the league lead in that category, gave up a rare run and took the loss. Sugar Land bounced back on Wednesday 5-3, but fell 4-2 the next night. On Friday, Yasutomo Kubo came in relief and got the win 3-1. The Skeeters lost the last two games, falling 5-3 on Saturday and 8-5 on Sunday.
The Skeeters first two divisional playoff games will be held Sept. 18-19 at the Lancaster Barnstormers. The Skeeters will host the third game of the best of five series on Friday, Sept. 21, and the fourth and fifth games, if necessary, on Sept. 22-23.
The Atlantic League Championship will be played the following week between the Freedom and Liberty division winners. The Long Island Ducks and the Somerset Patriots are playing for the Liberty Division. Should Sugar Land win the Freedom Division, they would host the first two championship games on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26. The last three games will be held at the home field of the Liberty Division champion.
The Skeeters signed infielder Tony Thomas and pitcher Casey Harman on Sept. 11, and pitcher Jorge De Leon on Sept. 13.
Skeeter of the Week
Felipe Paulino picked up his 33rd save of the season in Wednesday’s win, breaking the Skeeters single-season record set by Derrick Loop in 2016. Paulino 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 has also struck out 31 batters over his last 22 innings pitched and earns the Fort Bend Star’s Skeeter of the Week honors.
Sugar Land Skeeters 81-45-0
Lancaster Barnstormers 74-52-7
York Revolution 68-58-13
S. Maryland Blue Crabs 50-76-31
Somerset Patriots 72-54-0
Long Island Ducks 69-57-3
New Britain Bees 61-65-11
Road Warriors 29-97-43