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It's too wet for Suns to stop sliding

June 03, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

The last few days have been like taking a waterpark vacation in the middle of a typhoon for the Hagerstown Suns.

The Suns have had time off work, but they're not having any fun getting wet.

The Suns and Lexington Legends suffered through their second straight elongated delay resulting in a rainout on Friday. On the surface, it means two consecutive doubleheaders over the weekend to complete the four-game series.

But for Hagerstown, it's been a time to spend a lot of nervous energy. The Suns are in the middle of an eight-game losing streak after a 7-6 loss in 11 innings to Hickory on Tuesday. They haven't played since, thanks to an off-day and two rainouts.

The question is: Is the inactivity a good thing or a bad thing for the young Suns?

"I'm not sure," Suns manager Frank Cacciatore said. "That's not the feeling I have. I think you come to the park, get ready to play and play. The time away isn't going to get you back. The only way to get back on track is to play."

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It has been a rough stretch for the Suns, who have lost nine of their last 10 games. But in this world of athletics, you are only as good as your last game and Cacciatore saw a lot of things to be positive about in Tuesday's extra-inning loss to Hickory, which completed a four-game sweep.

"We had our chances in that last game against Hickory," Cacciatore said. "We have been getting good at-bats all along, they were just spaced. Against Hickory, we were getting a lot more of them together. We were hitting the ball hard but making outs. Usually the way it goes is first you hit the ball hard, then you hit them and make outs and then, pretty soon, you start hitting the ball hard and they start falling in for hits."

Hagerstown will be playing a lot in a hurry to see if the stroke is back. Today's doubleheader will start with the resumption of Thursday's suspended game with the Suns trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first. They will complete the nine-inning game and play seven innings in the nightcap.

Hagerstown and Lexington will return Sunday at 1:35 p.m. to play two seven-inning games.

It has been a rough go for the Suns in the first half. They started out as one of the youngest teams on the field with 12 players at age 20 and younger. Inexperience, injury and promotions have erased some of the lines of the master plan, but Hagerstown trudges on despite the 18-33 record.

"Obviously I expected and hoped to get a better record," Cacciatore said. "But as far as our show of inexperience, there hasn't been a lot of surprises."

The Suns are in the stretch run in the first half of the season.

There are 18 games remaining before the All-Star break, when the records will be reset at 0-0. By then, Cacciatore expects to see Fernando Martinez back from his thumb injury and some other things settled to make for a more productive second half.

The key to consistent improvement for the Suns just comes down to adhering to age-old baseball remedies.

"Inexperience isn't any excuse," Cacciatore said. "We just have to get back to fundamental baseball and be basic. Pitchers need to get ahead in the count ... we have been allowing too many leadoff walks. Hitters haven't been patient at the plate. They have been chasing pitches and when we have runners in scoring position, we have to take the pressure off of ourselves. The pressure should be on their defense. After all, they did put the runners on base in the first place."

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