Suns' struggles continue against 'Birds

July 07, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns have lost sight of one of baseball's basic rules.

"We are struggling to get 27 outs," said Suns manager Tommy Herr.

And that has been the big picture of a whole game. There have been cases recently where the Suns have had problems getting three outs to end an inning.

The problem arose again on Friday. Hagerstown's bullpen was taxed again, struggling through the final four innings in what became an 8-3 loss to Delmarva before 2,777 Nora Roberts enthusiasts at Municipal Stadium.

If Roberts is looking for a mystery to pen, the Suns are becoming good subject matter. Thanks to a number of player promotions to end the first half, Hagerstown has struggled at the outset of the second half and is in need of clues to solve the problem.


"We are not pitching very well," Herr said. "We went through our bullpen (in the last two nights). That's a good-hitting club over there. ... We are a little undermanned right now."

Delmarva pieced together six rallies to come up with the eight runs as Suns pitching continued to make the Shorebirds look like Murderer's Row. Delmarva scored 28 runs on 42 hits in the course of the last 18 innings.

The Suns produced 25 hits in the same span, but only had nine runs to show for the output.

Hagerstown starter Jeff Mandel gave a decent start but was forced to leave after five innings after reaching his 75-pitch limit. He allowed four runs (two earned) and nine hits and left trailing 4-2 before handing it over to the Suns' tiring pen.

It was a ballgame early with the Suns scoring two runs in the third to tie the game at 2-2.

Delmarva put up single runs in the first and second innings to take the lead on Chris Vinyard's RBI single in the first and Danny Figueroa's sacrifice fly in the second.

Hagerstown came back with leadoff singles in the third by Francisco Plasencia and Robby Jacobsen off Delmarva starter Tim Bascom. Marcos Cabral reached on an error by Shorebirds third baseman Billy Rowell and a wild pitch tied the score.

Delmarva took control of the game in the middle innings with runs off Mandel in the fourth and fifth innings on RBI singles by David Cash and Billy Andrews before the Suns turned it over to their bullpen.

Aaron Jackson struggled through the sixth inning, allowing the first four hitters he faced to reach. After Michael Pierce singled, Jackson fired 13 consecutive balls to walk Pedro Florimon, Figueroa and Cash to bring in one run before Brandon Snyder launched a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2.

Dan Pfau met a similar fate to start the eighth with the first four Shorebirds he faced reaching base. Figueroa, Cash and Snyder all singled for one run before Rowell added an RBI double before the Suns could get an out.

The Suns tried to show life in the seventh by putting a run on the board to cut the deficit to 6-3, but it took a one-out single by Marvin Lowrance, a Marcos Cabral double and a sacrifice fly by Davis to bring home the run.

Now the Suns hit the road after their 3-6 homestand, looking for answers on how to record 27 outs in a timely fashion.

"You never know if getting away could be the answer," Herr said. "We played Lakewood well here to start out, pitched well and took three of four from them. But the way things are going right now, I don't think it matters whether we play home or away."

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