Dragons fans had few fleeting moments to cheer plays on the field in the opening four-game series of the Midwest League’s second half. It was no different for everyone in the dugout and on the field.
Perhaps the most exciting of those moments happened in the second inning Sunday against the South Bend Cubs. The Dragons were already behind 3-0 when they had their biggest inning of the series.
Infield singles by Jose Garcia and Raul Wallace and a single to left by Jeter Downs loaded the bases. Andy Sugilio hit a two-run single to right and Downs went to third.
Dragons manager Luis Bolivar likes to be aggressive on the bases, and this was the perfect time to give his team confidence and hopefully spark a big offensive day.
“We’ve got to score runs,” Bolivar said.
So he called for the double steal. Sugilio, one of the fastest base runners in the Reds’ organization, stole second, drawing a throw from the catcher that was not cut off. That allowed Downs to score without a throw.
“For the moment it felt good,” Bolivar said.
But when a team is slumping it takes more than a double steal. It takes another big inning (maybe two), good defense and strong pitching. Once again those necessities eluded the Dragons and they lost 10-4 to the Cubs.
The Dragons’ losing streak has reached eight for the third time this season. They are 2-15 since June 3. And for the 15th straight game the Dragons have scored four runs or fewer.
“They just need to concentrate and play the whole game,” Bolivar said. “They’ve got to do it. It’s got to come from them. The bottom line is they are the ones out there.”
South Bend is setting the early second-half pace at 4-0 in the Eastern Division with Lansing, which finished second in the first half behind Bowling Green.
The Cubs got to Dragons starter Packy Naughton (3-8) for four runs in four innings and blew the game open with a five-run fifth against the usually reliable Austin Orewiler. The big blast was a grand slam by outfielder Chris Carrier.
It was Carrier’s second grand slam this season and came in his 32nd at-bat. He is now 5-for-34 (.147 batting average) with 11 RBIs. Carrier began the season with South Bend but suffered a concussion and was put on the disabled list and returned to extended spring training on April 17. He rejoined the Cubs on June 11.
Could there be an end in sight to the Dragons’ futility? Maybe. Great Lakes comes to town Monday for a three-game series. The Loons have the worst record in the Midwest League at 24-48 and started the second half 0-4. The Dragons are 31-41 and 0-4.
“Every day is a new day and we’ll go after it again tomorrow,” Bolivar said. “We’re going to come out of this – just leave everything behind and start a new series tomorrow.”