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It’s all about the D-word in minor league baseball: development. Shed Long of the Dayton Dragons is reminded of that even as the losses mount.
“The biggest thing is everybody develops day by day and year by year,” said Long following the Dragons’ latest loss, 6-0 to the visiting Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays) at Fifth Third Field on Wednesday.
“The win and loss category, it matters, but at the same time it doesn’t. At the end of the day, you want to say I got better. The wins and losses, you want it to matter when you’re in Cincinnati.”
The Reds have their own woes in winning. The Dragons, the Reds’ low Class A affiliate, are reluctantly following that lead.
Dayton (13-40) is all but a lock to post its most futile first-half record since joining the Midwest League in 2000. The Dragons also will lug an 11-game losing streak into Thursday’s series finale. That ties a club record for most consecutive losses. There have been two other seven-game losing skids.
“Everybody still has their spirits up,” said Long, a Talladega, Alabama, native who eschews NASCAR. “We know we’re losing; that’s obvious. We’re still trying to come in everyday and make this thing fun. We just can’t put it all together right now, but it’s going to come together soon.”
The Lugnuts (27-24) pounced on Dragons starter and loser Austin Orewiler (1-3) in the first inning, putting the first five batters on base and scoring four runs. That was in stark contrast to the former reliever’s previous two outings, in which he didn’t allow an earned run over 14 shutout innings.
Orewiler lasted seven innings — a rarity for Dragons pitchers — but Dayton couldn’t mount any offense against winner Taylor Saucedo (2-5), who also went seven innings and scattered four singles.
Center fielder Zack Shields, batting leadoff, had two hits, but his second in the fifth was the last for Dayton. That snapped an 0-for-15 mini slump by Shields. Reydel Medina and Hector Vargas had the other hits. Dragons reliever Jeremy Kivel worked a perfect ninth inning, striking out two.
Like Long, Dragons manager Dick Schofield also cited the long-term goal as most important.
“There’s always positives you can take from it, but when you’re not winning, everybody has opinions and thoughts,” Schofield said. “You want to win, No. 1, but the development part for the guys, that’s head and shoulders above everything else. That’s the biggest thing”
Dragons tales: Schofield could be suspended for bumping an umpire during Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Lugnuts. Both he and Shane Mardirosian were ejected after objecting to a checked-swing third strike. It appeared Schofield accidentally chest-bumped the ump.
• It’ll be up to Dragons starting pitcher Jacob Constante (1-5, 5.48 ERA) to stop the losing skid in today’s series finale.