Sometimes it takes moving backward a little bit to jump ahead, and Mac Sceroler is a good example of that. The right-hander starter the season with the Dayton Dragons but was sent back to extended spring training with an injury back in April.
Sceroler was back at Fifth Third Field on Sunday and certainly made an impressive “second” impression, allowing only two hits in six shutout innings as Dayton beat Lansing 8-2.
“Today was great,” Sceroler said. “ I had all my pitches working and I was able to keep the hitters off balance. Any day you can do that you are going to have success.”
Sceroler began the season in the Dragons starting rotation and posted a 1-2 record with a 6.00 ERA in four games before straining an oblique muscle and spending the last two months rehabbing in Goodyear, Ariz.
“It can be a wake-up call to make sure you are mentally and physically healthy to last a whole season,” he said.
Sceroler retired the first 13 hitters he faced Sunday while getting plenty of support from the Dragons offense.
J.D. Williams delivered a two-out triple in the second inning and came home on a single off the bat of Raul Wallace for a 1-0 lead.
The Dragons strung together three straight hits to start the third inning, Lorenzo Cedrola drove in two runs with the first of his two hits on the day.
Cedrola has brought a spark since he joined the Dragons three weeks after the Reds acquired him in a trade with Boston. The 20-year-old outfielder has 26 hits in 22 games with Dayton.
The Dragons led 6-0 after RBI doubles from Alejo Lopez and Hendrik Clementina in the sixth inning.
Lansing cut the gap with a pair of runs in the seventh inning, but Jose Garcia got those back with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to round out the scoring.
The win moves the Dragons into sole possession of the top spot in the race for the two playoff spots in the second half of the season. The five teams in that chase are separated by a game and a half in the standings.
The Dragons are still six games under .500 for the season as they try to earn back-to-back playoff bids for the first time since the 2007-2008 seasons.
“The guys are really excited right now,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said before Sunday’s game. “They see the standings and we’re going to give it a push, but you have to go game-by-game and see what happens.
A big part of Bolivar’s job is making sure his young players, who have never played a full 140-game season, can handle the physical demands of the game.
“It’s more of a mental preparation for them. Trying to encourage them to take care of themselves and get more rest so they can finish the season strong.”
After wrapping up the series vs. Lansing on Tuesday, the Dragons head out for a 13-game, 14-day swing through four Midwest League cities.
That’s the longest road trip since the 2000 team opened the season on a 16-game trip while Fifth Third Field was being completed.