The Sugar Land Skeeters will become the first professional baseball team in Texas to utilize the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS) to assist home plate umpires calling balls and strikes, beginning July 30 and continuing the remainder of the season.
“This is a landmark day for the Atlantic League and professional baseball,” said Atlantic League President Rick White. “After successfully unveiling the ABS at our All-Star Game in York, Pa., and following positive feedback from managers, players, umpires and fans, we are eager to implement the consistent strike zone accuracy offered by ABS technology.”
Throughout the remainder of the season, umpires will be assisted by the ABS, which uses radar technology to give a “reliable, precise, rule-book strike zone for pitchers and hitters.” Umpires will still make judgment calls for certain ball-strike issues such as check swings, while continuing to perform their other duties.
Use of the ABS is part of the three-year partnership between Major League Baseball and the Atlantic League, which tests experimental playing rules and equipment initiatives throughout the Atlantic League’s Championship Season.
Return to winning ways
The Skeeters return from their longest road trip of the season where they won seven of 10 games and claimed three series wins. They moved within one game of the York Revolution by taking two of three from the Revs in the middle series. They started in Southern Maryland taking two of three from the Blue Crabs and ended the series taking three of four from the High Point Rockers.
On Tuesday, Rico Noel racked up two more stolen bases in the 4-3 win over the Revs. On Wednesday the Skeeters split a doubleheader with York, making up for an earlier rainout. Albert Cordero homered and drove in three runs for the Skeeters in Game 1 and newcomer Chase De Jong made his Skeeters debut by throwing six scoreless innings to pick up the win.
On Thursday Denis Phipps blasted his team-leading 17th home run of the year to help the Skeeters win 5-3 over the Rockers. On Friday the Skeeters suffered a walk-off loss at High Point.
Wynton Bernard drove in two as the Skeeters come back in the ninth on Saturday. Jason Martinson and Zach Borenstein lead the offensive outburst on Sunday, going a combined 5-for-10 with a homer and five RBIs as the Skeeters crushed the Rockers 10-5.
Major League news
Former Skeeters infielder Ryan Court had his contract selected by the Seattle Mariners from Triple-A Tacoma, becoming the eighth player in Skeeters history to appear on a Major League 25-man roster after appearing with the Skeeters.
Court appeared in eight games with the Skeeters this season, hitting .250/.379/.458 with a home run and four RBIs before having his contract purchased by the Mariners on May 7. In 37 games this season with Triple-A Tacoma, Court hit .279 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs. Friday’s call-up was Court’s first to a Major League 25-man roster.
The other seven players in Skeeters history to appear in the Majors after appearing with the Skeeters were right-hander Austin Adams (Skeeters – ’18; MIN – ’19, DET – ’19), left-hander
Scott Kazmir (Skeeters - ’12; CLE - ’13, OAK - 2014-15, HOU - ’15, LAD - ’16), left-hander Jason Lane (Skeeters - 2012-13; SDP - ’14), outfielder Ryan Langerhans (Skeeters - 2013-14; TOR - ’13), right-hander Tim Stauffer (Skeeters - ’15; NYM - ’15), left-hander Hunter Cervenka (Skeeters - ’15, ’18; ATL - ’16, MIA - 2016-17) and left-hander Dan Runzler (Skeeters - 2015-16, ’18; PIT - ’17). Kazmir was selected as an American League All-Star in 2014 with the Oakland A’s after appearing with the Skeeters in 2012.
Sugar Land Skeeters released shortstop Ryan Jackson, pitcher Robbie Ross Jr., and centerfielder Willy Taveras. They placed pitcher Danny Reynolds on the 7-day injured list. The Skeeters signed free agent pitchers Chase De Jong and Dan Runzler. Right-hander Joe Lienhard had his contract purchased by the Kansas City Royals. The Royals have assigned Lienhard to their Pioneer Rookie League affiliate in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
The Skeeters returned to Constellation Field Monday for a seven-game series with the Lancaster Barnstormers. Friday is Masked Singer Night courtesy of FOX Broadcasting. The team is also celebrating eco-friendliness with Go Green Night featuring a metal straw giveaway for the first 1,000 fans, free parking for eco-friendly cars, and a green-themed, post-game fireworks show. Saturday will feature a Deacon Jones bobblehead giveaway and a special Deacon-themed jersey auction. Kovu the Bat Dog will also perform Friday and Saturday.
Skeeter of the Week
Pitcher Chase De Jong made his Skeeters debut by throwing six scoreless innings to pick up the win in the first game of a doubleheader against the York Revolution.
Atlantic League Second Half Standings
Wins – Losses – Games back
York Revolution 11-5-0
Sugar Land Skeeters 10-6-1
S. Maryland Blue Crabs 9-6-1.5
Lancaster Barnstormers 7-9-4
Long Island Ducks 8-8-0
High Point Rockers 7-10-1.5
New Britain Bees 6-10-2
Somerset Patriots 6-10-2
Skeeters 4, Revolution 3
Skeeters 5, Revolution 0
Revolution 10, Skeeters 2
Skeeters 5, Rockers 3
Rockers 5, Skeeters 4
Skeeters 6, Rockers 4
Skeeters 10, Rockers 5