The Dragons suffered a major-league letdown Monday night by squandering a 7-1 first-inning advantage over the Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays) and losing 13-9.
It was a crushing setback for Dragons pitchers, who were especially effective at Fifth Third Field in the early minor-league baseball season. Starter Tony Santillan lasted five innings but surrendered four earned runs and struck out four. Ryan Hendrix allowed three earned runs and coaxed just two outs in the fateful eighth inning. Andy Cox was tagged with the loss.
Hendrix allowed his second homer in the ninth, a mammoth solo blast by Edward Olivares that went an estimated 397 feet and landed on top of the left-field concessions. It also was the Dragons’ second straight loss after having a seven-game win streak snapped.
Game changer: Lugnuts Bradley designed hitter Bradley Jones unloaded three-run homers in the seventh and eighth innings to ravage the Dragons’ bullpen. His first was off Lucas Benenati, his second courtesy of Hendrix.
That shot the Lugnuts ahead 12-8. Dayton outfielder Michael Beltre launched his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning.
• The Lugnuts had two familiar Major League Baseball names in their lineup: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Guerrero is ranked the No. 3 third baseman in the minor leagues by MLB.com, trailing only Boston’s Rafael Devers and former Dragon Nick Senzel, now with the Daytona Tortugas (high Class A).
Bichette, a shortstop, entered Monday as the No. 2 hitter in the Midwest League (.417) and No. 2 in on-base percentage (.517). He was tied with Guerrero for third in most runs scored (eight). Guerrero is the No. 1 prospect among Blue Jays’ affiliates and Bichette No. 9.
Dragons tales: Here’s something you haven’t read in a while, the Dragons have held sole possession of first place in the Midwest League Eastern Division since last Friday entering Monday’s game. Dayton hadn’t done that since May of 2014.
• Dayton had a rare off day on Sunday after having a seven-game win streak snapped 7-1 in a series finale at the Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers) on Saturday. Dayton’s 7-3 start matched their second best start in program history, which they also did in 2014. The team was 9-1 to begin 2007.
• Ryan Olson (2-0, 0.00 ERA) was the first Dragons pitcher to go nine innings in the team’s history, beating Great Lakes 2-0.
• Off and running suits the Dragons. The team had 19 stolen bases entering Monday’s game, tops in the Midwest League.
• Two players will join Dragons mascot Gem in visiting Montgomery and Warren county elementary schools this week. They’ll be at Horizon Science Academy (10 a.m.) and DECA Middle School (11 a.m.) on Tuesday. On Wednesday two players and Gem will be at Bethel Elementary in Tipp City (10 a.m.) and Covington Elementary in Covington (11 a.m.).
Players will answer questions, sign autographs and have photos taken with students.
On deck: Left-hander Scott Moss (0-1, 6.23 ERA) will be looking for his first win as Tuesday’s Dragons starting pitcher against the visiting Lugnuts. He’ll oppose Justin Maese (1-1, 4.91 ERA).
Moss (Deltona, Fla.) has allowed six earned runs in 8.2 innings over two starts. Maese (El Paso, Texas) is considered the ace of the Lugnuts’ pitching staff.