- Marc Katz Contributing Writer
Before Thursday night’s game at Fifth Third Field, Bowling Green pitching coach Bill Moloney (a long ago pitching coach for the Dragons) was talking about the success his Tampa Bay organization had developing pitchers.
On the other side of the field, it seems as though the Cincinnati Reds have produced many more top position players than pitchers.
As if to prove Moloney’s point, Bowling Green rode the strong right arm of Mikey York to a 6-0 victory over the Dayton Dragons in a Midwest League game that saw the Dragons collect three hits and York — recently promoted from Hudson Valley — strike out eight in six innings and allow two of the hits.
York was helped most by a three-hit, three-run fifth inning that was conclusive enough to break a 10-game losing streak for the Hot Rods, who cooled off the Dragons, losers of two of their last 12.
“He pitched really well,” Dayton manager Luis Bolivar said. “It was just one of those days. The guy did a pretty good job.”
With a weekend’s worth of regular-season games to go, the Hot Rods remain in a battle for the last Eastern Division playoff spot with South Bend. Dayton qualified by finishing second to West Michigan in the season’s first half, and opens the first round of the playoffs with West Michigan at home Wednesday.
That series will be a best-of-three.
York, a fifth-round draft pick last summer by the Rays, was 4-1 with an 0.82 ERA at Hudson Valley when he was summoned to Bowling Green on Aug. 17. This was his third start and first victory as he shrunk his ERA from 1.64 to 1.06.
Dayton, which beat the Hot Rods 9-8 on Wednesday, managed a harmless two-out triple to Michael Beltre in the third against York and a one-out single to Randy Ventura in the sixth.
York walked one.
The game was the exact opposite of Wednesday’s series opener when the Dragons scored their last run in the ninth on the way to 11 hits. Thursaday’s shutout was the first for Dayton since June 29, when the Dragons lost 3-0 at West Michigan. It was also Dayton’s first shutout loss at home this season.
Moloney, who has been in the Rays’ organization for 11 seasons, the last four with Bowling Green, was Dayton’s pitching coach in 2001, the second season of the organization.
Prior to the recent losing streak, the Hot Rods seemed certain of a place in the playoffs, especially after winning seven straight and 13 of 16 games.
Now comes the tiebreaker to this series Friday night.
Bolivar said he would probably rest a player or two to help get ready for the playoffs. He held left fielder Taylor Trammell out Thursday, giving one of his best hitters the day off.
At first, even though York wasn’t giving Dayton any chances, Alex Webb was nearly matching him. Webb allowed two singles in the first three innings and his lone run allowed through four came on a leadoff triple by Garrett Whitley followed by a sacrifice fly by Josh Lowe.
Both Whitley and Lowe were first-round draft choices by the Rays in 2015 and 2016.
Then came the fifth, and Webb was gone. The Dragons would not recover.