Even with the rain falling Friday afternoon at Fifth Third Field, Dragons manager Luis Bolivar was glad to be back in familiar surroundings.
The Dragons, beasts at home in 2017, were returning after being swept by Bowling Green to fall to 1-6 on the road in the second half.
After an hour-and-a-half delay, South Bend used two-out, three-run homers in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 7-0 and coast to an 11-4 win.
Still, “It’s always good to be home,” Bolivar said said beforehand. “The guys like playing at home.”
And why not? Dayton entered Friday’s game 25-11 overall at home and 16-18 on the road, and Bolivar believes the crowds at home — 1,218 straight sellouts and counting — usually provide a little spark.
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The crowds for the last two games at Bowling Green were 1,421 and 1,711.
“When we play at home we have these big crowds and I think they get into that energy,” Bolivar said. “When we go on the road, sometimes we don’t have those kinds of crowds and I think our motivation drops a little bit.”
So Bolivar had a new heading on the daily schedule for Friday. “Don’t fight the fun” had been replaced by one word: “Consistency.”
“It doesn’t matter if we are at home or on the road, we have to be consistent,” Bolivar said. “We had close games that we had a chance to win, but we have to have the same consistency.”
Cox done: The Reds officially put pitcher Adam Cox on the disabled list for the remainder of the season after an injury to his throwing shoulder didn’t show signs of healing.
Cox will have surgery next week, Bolivar said.
Cox, who had shoulder problems at the University of Tennessee, had been pitching with soreness in his left shoulder, but felt it getting worse during an appearance at West Michigan on June 12 and was placed on the disabled list the next day.
“He was doing really good,” Bolivar said. “This had happened to him before in college and he went until the discomfort was too much.”
The 6-foot-2-inch lefty from Bartlett, Tenn., had been a steady force for the Dragons out of the bullpen, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.64 ERA in 22 innings with three saves in four opportunities.
Cox had recorded 33 strikeouts while walking 11 and allowing 18 hits.
However, Cox was just as valuable in the clubhouse as he was on the field.
“He was huge for us,” Bolivar said. “He was working hard and he was a big part of the clubhouse and the pitchers. For him to end up having to have surgery is devastating.”
New approach for Stephenson: Reds 2015 top draft pick Tyler Stephenson has been swinging a hot bat since the break.
But the difference is not in the swing, but with the mental aspect of hitting.
“Right after we clinched (a playoff spot in the first half), we changed some things up,” Stephenson said. “Your swing is your swing, but it was how we approached it with just being more aggressive early in the count and being ready for the fastball.
“Instead of letting those pitiches go by, jumping on them.”
Stephenson had a nine-game streak of recording at least one extra-base hit in each game, with seven of the hits being doubles.
“I’m driving balls into the gap,” Stephenson said. “I’m just finding holes and it is a good feeling.”
Entering Friday, Stephenson was hitting .417 over his last seven games and .302 in the second half with a .547 slugging percentage and a .914 OPS.
Stephenson is glad to be able to put a healthy season together after missing 42 games last season with a wrist injury that required season-ending surgery.
“I think some of the difference from last year is just maturing and getting older,” the 20-year-old said. “I am a lot stronger physically and last year was difficult because I’d play then be on the disabled list, then play a little and go back on the DL. This year, I am just being aggressive and going up there ready for a pitch to hit.”
On deck: Dayton and South Bend meet today in the second of the four-game set at 7:07 p.m.
Lefty Ty Boyles takes a 5-2 mark to the hill for the Dragons while South Bend counters with Erling Moreno (1-3).