For five innings, Dayton Dragons starting pitcher Patrick McGuff did more than enough to give his team a chance to win.
McGuff – who entered the game with a 1.80 earned run average and 13 strikeouts in 15 innings in his previous three starts since being signed as a free agent on July 9 – was strong for the fourth straight start against the Lansing Lugnuts on Monday night at Fifth Third Field. He allowed just one hit in his first five innings, a single from leadoff hitter Samad Taylor in the first inning.
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In the sixth inning, Lansing capitalized on back-to-back walks from McGuff and the Lugnuts erupted for six runs to earn an 8-3 victory.
“He did a pretty good job, it was another pretty good outing for him,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “He just works hard out there, competes and mixes up his pitches well. It’s too bad he didn’t get the run support from the offense. Hopefully, next time he can get some support.”
Offensively, Dayton tallied seven hits in the first five innings, placing runners in scoring position in the second, third and fifth innings – but were unable to get onto the scoreboard. The Dragons left 21 runners on base in the loss.
The Dragons best chance to score came in the bottom of the third inning. After back-to-back singles by Raul Wallace and Jose Garcia, Cincinnati Reds first-round draft pick Jonathan India – who arrived in Dayton earlier in the day – ripped a base hit to right field with runners on first and second base with two outs.
It appeared Bolivar attempted to send Wallace, but he missed the bag and went to back to step on it again and was stranded at third. Garcia continued running to third, nearly catching Wallace, but he was able to get back to second base safely. The next batter, Andy Sugilio, lined out to center field to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Sugilio ran through a stop sign at third base and was gunned down at home.
“We didn’t run the bases good at all tonight,” Bolivar said. “I think that probably cost the game right there. It’s something we need to go and talk to them and make sure it’s a teaching moment afterwards.”
In the top of the sixth, McGuff walked back-to-back hitters and then gave up a single to Chavez Young to give Lansing a 1-0 lead. Reliever Dauri Moreta replaced McGuff and gave up five runs on four hits as Lansing took a lead it would never relinquish.
India went 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout in his first appearance for the Dragons. India was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year at the University of Florida, hitting .350 with 21 HRs and 52 RBIs in 68 games.
Wallace went 2-for-4, including a two RBI triple in the bottom of the eighth inning. Catcher Hendrik Clementina went 3-for-3 and shortstop Jose Garcia went 2-for-4 for the Dragons.
Despite the loss, the Dragons (18-19) remained in first place for a wild card spot in the Midwest League East Division. The Lake County Captains and the West Michigan Whitecaps are a half-game back at 17-19, followed by the South Bend Cubs (17-20).
Dayton must finish in the top two among eligible teams in the second half to advance to the playoffs. Bowling Green and Lansing have already qualified after finishing atop the first half standings. The Dragons are gunning for back-to-back playoff bids for the first time since the 2007-2008 seasons.
Record breaker: Saturday night’s game was the 1,300th consecutive sold-out date for the Dragons, continuing the longest sellout streak in professional sports.
The closest active streak is the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks. They’ve sold out 744 consecutive games dating back to 2001.
Greene up next: Hunter Greene (3-7, 4.48 ERA), the Reds 2017 first-round draft pick, will make his 19th start of the season Tuesday night.
In his last 11 starts, Greene has pitched 51.1 innings with 36 hits, 15 earned runs, 63 strikeouts and 15 walks with a 2.63 earned run average. In his first seven starts, Greene’s ERA was 10.06.
Injury update: Shortstop Jeter Downs was placed on the disabled list, opening up a roster spot for India. Downs suffered a mild hip flexor strain, but won’t miss much time, Bolivar said. He was leading the team in batting average (.262), runs (55) and stolen bases (29).