Usually, when the third-string catcher is recording the last four outs from the mound, it is not a good thing.
Such was the case for the Dayton Dragons on Sunday when Jose Duarte was called on to close out a 16-5 loss to Wisconsin at Fifth Third Field in a game that set two team marks for the season and one Midwest League mark for 2016.
The 11-run differential was the largest margin of defeat for the Dragons this year, breaking the mark of a 10-run loss to South Bend on June 26. The three hours and 45 minutes it took to complete the contest marked the longest game of the season for the Dragons by 13 minutes, and their seven wild pitches were the most by a MWL team in 2016.
“It’s a kick in the gut,” Dragons manager Dick Schofield said. “We’ve been playing really well, but we have to remember it is just one loss and move on. It doesn’t count as five losses, it is the same as a 2-1 loss, but it is something you don’t want to see happen.”
Wisconsin put its leadoff hitter on base five times, scoring twice in the first and once in the second before putting four runs on the board in the third and the fifth to take a 11-2 lead.
Dayton got as close as 11-5 on a three-run homer by Chris Okey in the seventh, but the bullpen handed the three runs right back to Wisconsin.
“(Jose) Lopez has had some good starts, and this was not one of his best, and after that we didn’t pitch well,” Schofield said. “When you score to get back in it, you have to have a shutdown inning to get the momentum swing and that dwindles when you let them equal what you just did.”
The Dragons were also 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, leaving the bases loaded twice. On three occasions, they had a runner on third with less than two outs and didn’t cash in.
Hot and cold: Shed Long has watched his hot streak turn ice cold.
Long, who had a 10-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday, is 1-for-16 in the four games since the streak ended.
Over the last 32 games, Long is still hitting .328 with five home runs and 14 RBI to raise his average 30-points to .281.
Master thieves: The Dragons have stolen 26 bases in 15 games in July, four more than they did in June and 10 more than in April and May.
Long leads the Dragons with 14 stolen bases while Zack Shields and Brantley Bell each have 11.
Reds 2016 second overall pick Nick Senzel has seven in just 13 games.
Western woes: The Dragons fell to 4-13 against the Western Division with Sunday’s loss.
Of the six teams from the Western Division the Dragons have faced, they have a winning record against just fifth-place Beloit (2-1).
Dayton was swept by Peoria and Clinton. Wisconsin can finish off a sweep today.
On deck: The Dragons close out the three-game set – and the home stand – with a 7 p.m. start against Wisconsin.
Tanner Rainey (2-7, 5.09) will face Thomas Jankins.
Jankins is looking for his first win since being called up after going 0-0 with a 3.09 ERA at short-season Helena.