It?s now or never time for the Madison Mallards. After a 7-1 loss to Rochester last night, the Ducks are one game away from elimination in the Northwoods League South Division Playoffs. At the same time, the Mallards are just one win away from evening the series at 1-1. They will attempt to do just that tonight, August 15, when they take on the Honkers at 7:05 p.m. in Rochester.
The Ducks will look for a return to the pitching that gained them the new NWL team ERA single-season record. In addition, the Mallards need to find their offensive streak once more. Although the Ducks collected seven hits and benefited from one error last night, they were only able to plate one run. That is in comparison with the Honkers, who had seven runs on only four more hits than the Mallards. Rochester broke the game open by scoring five runs with two outs in the fifth inning.
The Mallards are now 2-7 overall against the Honkers this season. However, that may prove misleading, as the Mallards were 1-7 against the Honkers in the 2005 regular season, but then beat Rochester in the South Division Playoffs.
Tonight, Madison will look to Adam Mills (pictured below) for the start they need. Mills has a 2-5 record, but has generally thrown better than the record suggests. He has a 2.76 ERA in 11 games, 10 started. Over 71.2 innings pitched, Mills has struck out 53 while walking only 11 and giving up 28 runs, 22 earned. Mills also has one complete game to his credit.
Against Rochester this season, Mills has a 0-1 record, but an ERA of only 1.62, in two starts. In those two games, in which he pitched 16.2 innings, Mills gave up 11 hits and three earned runs while striking out 13 and walking only two. In addition, he picked up the win as the Mallards beat Rochester 6-2 in the 2005 South Division Playoffs.
Up against Mills will be Ryan Bird. Bird is 5-1 with a 1.81 ERA in eight starts. Over 54.2 innings pitched he has given up 47 hits, 16 runs, 11 earned runs and 19 walks. He has also struck out 48.
Bird has started one game against Madison this season. He earned a no-decision in that game, throwing for a 1.29 ERA. In seven innings, he yielded seven hits and on earned run while walking three and striking out four.
If the Mallards win tonight, they will play in Rochester again on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. If Madison wins the series with Rochester, and Duluth wins the North Division Playoffs, the Mallards will be back in town Thursday night before going to Duluth on Friday. If Madison and Thunder Bay both win, the Ducks will play in Thunder Bay on Thursday and return to Madison Friday.