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Sun's lack of patience is cruelest cut

July 18, 2006

The Hagerstown Suns have been looking for a hero for most of the last week.

The Suns' seven-game losing streak has been like one of those old movies with the Canadian damsel strapped to a log by the villain with the long, handle-bar mustache. The log is on a conveyor belt, heading to the buzzsaw.

In the case of the Suns, the villains have been Lakewood and Hickory. The buzzsaw has been the starting pitching.

Outside of July 6's victory in the homestand opener against Lakewood, the Suns have been all tied up by the opposing starters.

Still, it is a matter of perspective. Suns manager Frank Cacciatore sees the trees among the forest.

"We started against the buzzsaw and won a few games," Cacciatore said. "We beat (Carlos) Carrasco by not chasing bad pitches. We recognize what we need, but it's not happening. We have to have discipline to do it."

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The Suns got to Carrasco, a season-long nemesis, and chased him in four innings with three runs on four hits. But Hagerstown hasn't been able to push a starter out of the way.

Over the homestand, Hickory's and Lakewood's starters allowed 11 runs over 36 innings, a 3.00 ERA. Without Carrasco, the starters have posted a 2.61 ERA against the Suns during the losing streak.

But according to Cacciatore, it's more about the Suns' inconsistency than the opponent's polish.

"It's sort of like a slow death at times," Cacciatore said. "If we could be patient and flip a count - show some patience on a bad pitch and not swing - we could get a situation in our favor. That could be all it takes to make a pitcher throw another 12, 15 pitches in an inning.

"We have to show more discipline. We are the type of team that has to make every inning and out count and then piece it all together for a win. We have to bear down and battle. And if we battle and lose, well, so be it."

Suns spots



The Suns made two roster moves on Wednesday with one player heading to Brooklyn and the other to St. Lucie.

Pitcher Eric Brown went to the New York-Penn League team in New York to work on becoming a starter. He was 3-2 with a 5.29 ERA in 20 games for Hagerstown and had the Suns' only complete game.

Catcher Tony Piazza was sent to the Mets Florida State League team in a backup role. Piazza hit .247 in 23 games for the Suns.

To fill the roster, the Suns received catcher Joan Martinez from Kingsport, the Single-A affiliate in the Appalachian League, and pitcher Jeremy Simmons from Brooklyn.

Four former Suns played for the American League in this week's All-Star Game.

AL hero Mike Young, who hit the two-run, game-winning triple in the ninth, played for the Suns as a second baseman in 1998 for the Toronto organization.

Vernon Wells, another 1998 product, and Alex Rios, of the 1999 team, were both representing Toronto. Pitcher Francisco Liriano was a 2001 member of the Giants' version of the Suns.

Talk about Carolina blue. The Suns are 0-12 against teams from North Carolina this season. Hagerstown is 0-4 against Greensboro and 0-8 against Hickory.

Brandon Nall is riding a 19 2/3 scoreless innings streak over the last 10 appearance.

The Suns' starting pitchers are carrying a 4.57 ERA over the first 90 games. The bullpen has a combined 3.99 ERA.

Deolis Guerra, a 17-year-old pitcher rated as the Mets' eighth-best prospect, has a 1.93 ERA over his four road starts.

A look ahead



The Suns are on the road for the whole week, finishing a four-game set at Lake County (Indians) before heading to Lexington (Astros) for a four-game set.

The Suns return to town on July 24 to start a four-game set with Kannapolis (White Sox).




Bob Parasiliti covers the Hagerstown Suns for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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