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Winning edge dull for Suns

July 09, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns have become hypochondriacs.

The Suns have all the symptoms of a sickly team. The hitting has become anemic. The starting pitching has lost some of its strength. The bullpen is lacking some potency. At times, the defense is brittle.

The aches and pains of a full season of baseball have begun to take their toll on the Suns. But according to manager Marty Pevey's diagnosis, all these ailments are only in the team's heads.

--cont from sports--

"A lot of these guys are tired because they have never played a full season of baseball before," Pevey said after Wednesday's game with the Charleston Alley Cats was called off because of wet grounds at Municipal Stadium. "But the most important thing to remember: When you're tired physically, it is mostly because a lack of concentration."

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The physical part of the Suns got their third gameless day in the last three weeks. Tuesday's major league All-Star Game, combined with Wednesday's rainout, gave Hagerstown back-to-back off days, which could help on one level.

"You never know if this will help or hurt," Pevey said. "When we come back (Thursday), we'll have two seven-inning games and it changes the way you use the bullpen. But these guys are chomping at the bit. They want to get out here and get everything righted."

Pevey spent some time Wednesday working with the mental part of the Suns' game while trying to re-establish the air of confidence the team enjoyed in the first half.

After the rainout was announced, Suns players took some extra practice in the batting cage and some weight lifting, just trying to regain that winning edge.

That edge has been dulled since the start of the second half. Hagerstown has lost eight straight and 14 of its last 15 games en route to a 4-15 start, the worst in the South Atlantic League. All this after closing the first half with a 17-2 rush. Add to the equation that this was the Suns' ninth home rainout of the season.

And there may have been no greater testament to lagging concentration than last weekend's four-game sweep by Piedmont.

"We gave every one of those games away," Pevey said. "We had the lead in the seventh inning and didn't close the door."

As usual, Hagerstown's starting pitching was more than adequate. It just lacked support.

"The bullpen has to get back to working ahead of hitters," Pevey said. "They are walking too many guys. When you have a one-run lead, the most important batter you face is the first one in the eighth. You have to get him out, or at least work ahead of him.

"Our hitting, we have to be more offensive. Every night, we come into the ninth inning behind and facing the closer. You aren't going to win many games like that. We can't be averaging six and seven hits a night. In this league, you need nine, 10 or 11 a night to win."

Pevey said his job is to keep the routine as normal as possible, while trying not to show any concern or panic. The only way to shake a slump is with a positive approach.

"Fans have to realize that we will go through these down periods," Pevey said. "We have guys who don't want to lose. They were getting upset with all the losing after the second game at Piedmont. Our players want to right this thing. Heck, even if you're only playing 'Horse,' losing sucks."

TODAY'S GAME




Charleston Alley Cats

(Brett Haring, 2-1, 2.83 and Jacobo Sequea, 3-1, 2.94)

at

Hagerstown Suns

(Matt McClellan, 5-3, 2.51 and Isabel Giron, 7-8, 2.73)

  • Game One Time: 6:05 p.m.
  • Radio: WHAG-AM 1410
  • Homestand Ends: Monday
  • Ticket Office: 301-791-6266
  • Tonight's Promo: Thirsty Thursday
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