Dayton’s Jose Garcia fields a ball at short during Saturday night’s game at Fifth Third Field. Nick Falzerano/CONTRIBUTED

Greene struggles again, Dragons drop eighth straight game

After allowing four runs in two innings, 18-year-old Hunter Greene had plenty of time to sit in the dugout Saturday night and think about his fourth start with the Dayton Dragons.

“I was frustrated and I took my time to think about the innings,” he said. “To be honest with you, I gotta get over it. I’ve got to have short-term memory.”

Greene’s start was just the beginning of a long night. The Dragons lost their eighth straight game, falling to Fort Wayne 10-1 in a game that last three hours and 41 minutes and saw 369 pitches thrown.

Greene (0-2) threw 60 of those pitches, including 32 in the first inning. The Reds made Greene and his 100 mph fastball the No. 2 overall draft pick last year out of a Southern California high school. His first two fastballs Saturday clocked 96 and 97 mph. From there his fastballs ranged from 98 to 100 on a night when the temperature at first pitch was 49 degrees.

Jeisson Rosario lined a hard-hit single to center to start the game. That was the last sharply hit ball against Greene. His outing was still a struggle but not at all like his last start when he allowed seven runs, including a grand slam, in two-thirds of an inning.

The second batter reached on a broken-bat blooper into shallow right field. After getting the first of his five strikeouts, Green walked Carlos Belen. After a second strikeout, it appeared Greene would get out of the inning when a softly hit ball came off the bat of Justin Lopez. But the hit fell softly behind the mound and by the time shortstop Jose Garcia reached it a run had scored and everyone was safe.

Greene started the second with a strikeout, but Jalen Washington started a three-run rally with a soft liner to center for a single. After another walk, an infield single and a flare into shallow right produced two runs. A wild pitch allowed the fourth.

“There’s only one hard-hit ball out of the six,” Greene said. “A lot of guys got jammed, broken bats, dinkers, not the best hits, so I can’t be mad at that. I’ve just got to focus on what I can control. Overall, I thought I did OK.”

Greene said that pitching coach Seth Etherton was pleased with the progress from his last start to this one.

“He told me after the game, ‘Hey man, I think that you executed a lot better,’” Greene said.

Greene’s numbers: two innings, six hits, four earned runs, two walks and five strikeouts.

“My fastball movement downhill was great; my action was different,” he said. “I stayed over the rubber more, I stayed on my backside more, stayed closed even more than I did in my previous innings pitched, my mechanics were a lot better. I executed my pitches — just some of them fell for hits.”

Greene has 17 strikeouts in eight innings. But he’s also allowed 13 runs and has a 14.63 earned run average.

“I have a short-term memory, which is great in the game of baseball,” he said. “It just takes me a couple of minutes to get over it and be able to move on and look forward to another day.”

Greene’s next start will be on the road. His pitch limit Saturday was three innings or 65 pitches.

“It will gradually go up,” he said. “But as of now I can’t worry about what they’re thinking. I’ve just got to be able to perform and do what the ballclub says and understand their process and what they want to do with me.”

By contrast, Fort Wayne starter Emmanuel Ramirez is 23 and has been in the San Diego organization since 2012. He threw 93 pitches in his first start for the TinCaps after starting the season in the advanced Class California League. He pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings, allowed three hits and struck out 10.

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