The Great Lakes Loons dropped the first game of a three-game home series against the Clinton County (Iowa) Lumberkings (Seattle Mariners) 4-0 in front of 3,224 fans at Dow Diamond tonight. The loss was the fifth straight for the Loons, who had won their previous five games. The Loons are now tied for fifth place in the MWL's eastern division, just five games back from the two “first-place teams” in their division; West Michigan (Detroit Tigers), and South Bend (Arizona Diamondbacks). West Michigan has already clinched a post-season playoff berth after winning the season's first half of the MWL's eastern division, so the Loons need only be concerned about catching South Bend in the second half. The Loons are now 11-14 in the second half of the MWL season.
Despite the first two innings, the Loons played a great game defensively, and the team also hit the ball hard. It just seemed like every hard-hit ball was either a line-shot directly into an infielder's glove, or a hard liner directly to an outfielder. Loons reliever, Ralston Cash (2-1, 4.00 ERA) came in to spell starter, Zach Bird (4-11, 4.18 ERA) in the top of the third inning after Bird gave up four runs in his first two innings of work. Cash was flawless, allowing just 1-hit, 2-BB, while striking out four Lumberking batters in his 3-innings of work.
“Our guys are scrappy, you know they never give up, they always have opportunities; you know, today they fought hard, they just hit the ball right to people, and that's what is not fun about the stat-line, you can't see how many balls are hit hard,” said Cash. “But they're consistently hitting the ball hard and they're working -we're working- and you know it's going to turn around sooner or later.” “We just need to ride the roller-coaster,” continued Cash. “Just like with life, the roller-coaster goes up and down, and if you give up at the bottom you don't get to enjoy everything at the top, so right now we'll just keep riding it out and we'll get to the top and we'll enjoy it from there.”
Loons starter, Zach Bird was charged with the loss, dropping his record to 4-11 for the season. Bird got off to a rough start, giving up 2-runs in each of the first two innings for a total of 4-runs (3-earned) off of 4-hits, 2-walks; while only striking out one Lumberkings batter. The one “unearned run” Bird did give up in the first inning was a result of an error by Bird himself. Bird threw 52-pitches through those first two innings, forcing Loons skipper, Bill Haselman to go to his bullpen early.
The Loons continue the final two games of the series tomorrow and Friday at Dow Diamond, and start another three-game series against the Kane County Cougars (Chicago Cubs) Saturday, Sunday, and Monday; all at Dow Diamond.