The Dayton Dragons have lost their last six games, but that doesn’t mean the fun has stopped. Before Sunday’s game against South Bend, Dayton’s locker room was filled with laughter and loud Latin music with several players singing along.
Though the 13-5 loss to the Cubs that followed was little fun, first baseman Bruce Yari said the light mood helps ease tension.
“We really love this team and love to be around each other,” Yari said. “It makes coming to field fun every day. It’s a great group of guys. I’ve had a blast here.”
Though the Dragons have struggled recently, Yari is playing as well as he has all year. He’s recorded five hits and four RBIs in the series against South Bend, which concludes Monday night at Fifth Third Field.
Yari hit an RBI single to center field in the first inning, and John Sansone followed two batters later with a three-run home run to put Dayton ahead 4-0. The Cubs scored in each of the next six innings to take control.
Game changer: The Cubs ran away in the fifth when they scored three runs off reliver Alfredo Mena. Luis Ayala and Vimael Machin had RBI singles in the inning, while Austin Upshaw hit an RBI-double to center field to put South Bend up 9-5.
Dragons tales: Yari had a bad slump in June but has found consistency with simplicity in July.
Yari was called up from extended spring training on May 14. He hit .333 through his first two weeks with the team but then struggled with a .195 average over a 20-game stretch in June. The problem, he discovered, was thinking too much about his swing.
“I’ve been working a lot with our hitting coach Daryle Ward, and have been trying to have a nice, short path to the ball and simplify the swing a little bit,” Yari said. “On the other side of it, I’ve been trying to look and see better pitches to hit.”
In his last 11 games, he’s hit .358 and raised his season average to .283. He also hit his first home run since May 29 on Saturday night with a solo shot to center field.
“It’s a matter of laying off the bad pitches and then trying to get him to throw something more over the plate,” Yari said. “Last night on that home run, I saw a fastball up in the zone and was able to connect on it.”
Yari said the team isn’t under any extra pressure because of the losing streak, partially because they’ve already wrapped up a playoff berth.
“We’re all just working to try to be as consistent as possible,” Yari said. “Obviously we want to try to get hot towards the end of the season because we have that playoff spot locked up. We’re confident we’re going to be able to turn it around here real quickly.”
• Jose Siri hit a home run to center field in the second inning, which extends his hitting streak to 17 games.
On deck: Scott Moss (10-4, 3.10 ERA) will take the mound against South Bend’s Tyler Peyton (2-3, 4.89) on Monday in the final game of a four-game set.