A rare playoff season at stake, the Dragons shook off a recent road slump that was compounded by a loss to visiting Great Lakes in the opener of a doubleheader on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Field.
“After we lost that first one we met up in the clubhouse and decided we needed to have better energy coming into that second game,” Dragons first baseman Bruce Yari said. “There was a better effort from everyone to get it going a little bit more. A little sense of urgency.”
Yari, from Waterloo, Ontario, had three hits including a pair of doubles that set up runs in a 4-2 nightcap victory.
That was clutch, because it earned the Dragons a split. That was part of a makeup game that previously was washed out at Great Lakes. Because they’re Midwest League East Division opponents, the game was rescheduled, although the Loons lost home-field advantage. Both games were limited to seven innings.
At three games out entering Tuesday’s play, Dayton is unlikely to catch East Division leader West Michigan. But the wildcard winner probably won’t be decided until the final day of first-half play next week. Dayton held a one-game lead over South Bend and led Lansing by two games. The first-half divisional winner and wildcard winner qualify for the postseason playoffs.
Aaron Fossas (3-0) earned the win, going two scoreless innings in relief of starter Matt Blandino. Fossas and Ryan Hendrix (S, 5) retired all nine combined batters they faced.
Blandino returned to Dayton from Billings on Tuesday. He filled the roster spot vacated by left-handed pitcher Andy Cox, who was placed on the disabled list. Blandino (1-1, 4.26 ERA) initially was promoted to Dayton from the AZL Reds on May 31.
Loons 3, Dragons 1: The Dragons had no luck solving Loons starting pitcher A.J. Alexy in the opener. He allowed just two hits and struck out six over six innings to earn his first win.
Alexy is better known among scouts for having thrown 164 pitches in a game last year for Twin Valley High School at Elverson, Pennsylvania. That apparently caused his draft status to drop for fear he’d thrown out his arm. The Dodgers took him in the 11th round of the 2016 draft.
That had no lasting affect on the Dragons, because T.J. Friedl and Michael Beltre accounted for two singles off Alexy. Andrew Jordan (3-5) was tagged with the loss, allowing four hits and all three earned runs in three innings.
Dragons’ tales: Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey continues his return from elbow surgery as the Dragons’ starting pitcher in Wednesday’s game also against the Loons. A Dragons alum, Bailey hasn’t pitched for the Reds since shutting down early last season. He made his first rehab start with Class AA Pensacola last Friday, lasting five scoreless innings (64 pitches). His maximum against the Loons is 80 pitches or six innings, whichever is first.
If Bailey is anywhere near his Pensacola success, he’ll likely go from Dayton to Cincinnati. A first-round draft choice by the Reds in 2004, he spent the entire 2005 season with the Dragons. This will be his second rehab start at Dayton following his first in 2010.
• Seven Dragons have been ticketed to play in the Midwest League All-Star game: pitchers Scott Moss, Tony Santillan, Wennington Romero and Aaron Fossas, catcher Tyler Stephenson and outfielders Friedl and Beltre. The game will be hosted by the Loons at Dow Diamond Stadium in Midland, Michigan, on Tuesday, June 20.