Dayton’s Boyle bounces back in loss

Dragons starter Joe Boyle bounced back from his worst start and struck out 10 in five innings Sunday of the Dragons' 4-1 loss to West Michigan. CONTRIBUTED/Jeff Gilbert

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Dragons starter Joe Boyle bounced back from his worst start and struck out 10 in five innings Sunday of the Dragons' 4-1 loss to West Michigan. CONTRIBUTED/Jeff Gilbert

Dragons fall 4-1 to Whitecaps, lose fifth straight series

Joe Boyle’s rough innings are few this season. Actually, he entered Sunday’s game – his 14th start – with only one inning in which he had given up more than one run.

Boyle let in two West Michigan runs in the third inning, but his five-inning, two-earned run day felt a lot better than his start against the Whitecaps on Monday.

The slumping Dragons lost 4-1 Sunday, but it was a great bounce-back day for Boyle, who walked seven and allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings in Monday’s 20-1 loss.

“Obviously last time didn’t go the way that I wanted it to,” Boyle said. “So I definitely was excited to put in the work last week and come back out and hopefully throw a little bit differently than I did last time.”

In a two-run third inning, Boyle walked the first two and an infield hit loaded the bases. He struck out the next two batters, but Josh Crouch hit a two-run double for a 3-0 lead.

“I thought it was a slow start, and in the back of my mind I was like, ‘Uh, oh, is this a continuation of what we saw earlier this week,’” pitching coach Brian Garman said. “But in typical Joe Boyle fashion, he found a way to kind of climb out of that and got in a little bit of groove there.”

Boyle then started getting ahead of batters in the count and struck out six straight over the fourth and fifth innings to finish with 10 strikeouts, two hits and four walks on 95 pitches. Garman said Boyle started getting his slider down in the strike zone more and his fastball up in the zone more.

“I was glad I was able to at least make the adjustment and be able to get back in the zone and get ahead of those guys,” he said. “I was in a good space mentally, and it was a hot day, and I was laboring through some innings. So I had to make these things more efficient and find a way to get ahead of these guys.”

Through his first 13 starts, Boyle (3-3) had a 0.65 ERA and had allowed 15 hits in 55 1/3 innings. The past two starts have raised his ERA to 1.87 and his hit total to 18 in 62 2/3 innings. He now has 101 strikeouts.

Boyle has thrown a lot more innings this season than he ever threw at Notre Dame or any other summer league. But he doesn’t believe the extra work is getting to him. Neither does Garman.

“He is as disciplined with his day to day as anybody we have,” Garman said. “He cares about things that a lot of people don’t. He just puts a lot of emphasis on the small things. In terms of him wearing out because he’s never thrown this many innings, I’m not concerned about it.”

De La Cruz update: Elly De La Cruz, the Reds’ No. 2-rated prospect, showed the Whitecaps his power in the middle four games of the series with five home runs to reach a league-leading 20. On Sunday, he showed them his speed. He reached on an infield single in the sixth, stole second and third and scored on a ground ball.

De La Cruz has dominated the Midwest League over the past 39 games, batting over .330 and slugging over .700 with 14 homers and 29 RBIs. The Dragons head to Lake County this week and De La Cruz will leave the team early for the Futures Game in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.

It’s possible that De La Cruz could be promoted to Class AA Chattanooga before the Dragons return home after the All-Star break to face Fort Wayne on July 22. If not, he will back at shortstop.

Another lost series: After starting the season by winning eight series and tying one, the Dragons have lost five straight series to drop to 5-10 in the second half and 44-37 overall. They lost five of six this week to the Whitecaps.

Since June 11, the Dragons have lost first baseman Alex McGarry, outfielder Allan Cerda, infielder Nick Quintana and starting pitcher Connor Phillips to Chattanooga. Starter Andrew Abbott was promoted on May 10. In addition, outfielder Rece Hinds and starter James Proctor are on the injured list.

TUESDAY’S GAME

Dayton at Lake County, 11:05 a.m., 980

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