Bill Hass on Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball:Time to see a different team

from Bill Hass at…..Follow Bill with his Bill on Baseball Blog at the Greensboro Grasshoppers site…..

Time to see a different team

Because of the quirks of the South Atlantic League schedule, the Hoppers will not face Hickory — their Northern Division rival 100 miles away — the rest of the regular season.

And quite frankly, that’s a good thing.

“I’m tired of watching them whack the ball all over the field,” said Hoppers manager David Berg.

When the second half of the season began, Greensboro faced Hickory nine times in the first 13 games. And the Crawdads won seven of them, including Tuesday night’s 7-6 victory.

The teams could very well meet again in the first round of the playoffs. The Hoppers have already earned a playoff berth by winning the first half, and Hickory’s 10-3 record establishes it as the early favorite to win the second half.

The Hoppers are now 5-8 in the second half and hit the road for a five-game series at Kannapolis starting Wednesday. Maybe a change of scenery will do the team good. After starting the nine-game home stand by winning three straight against Lexington, the Hoppers lost five of their last six to finish the stand 4-5.

Starting pitching continues to be a major issue. For the 11th time in 13 games, Greensboro’s starter failed to get out of the fifth inning. Josh Hodges battled out of a first-inning jam, had a smooth second inning, then surrendered a two-run homer in the third, a three-run shot in the fourth and a two-run homer in the fifth before being lifted. All three were on fastballs up in the zone.

“He couldn’t locate the ball and he got hurt,” said pitching coach Blake McGinley. “They’re aggressive and they don’t miss those pitches.”

Chris Shafer and newcomer Collin Cargill pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings of relief. Cargill is a submarine right-hander who releases the ball close to the ground. He was added to the roster when outfielder Rand Smith went on the inactive list to attend to a family matter.

Smith’s absence temporarily leaves the Hoppers with just 11 active position players. Second baseman Austin Barnes will be out for a few days after injuring his shoulder Monday. There’s inflammation but no structural damage and at this point there are no plans to put him on the DL.

Of the two players on the DL, shortstop Terrence Dayleg (wrist) could return by the weekend but outfielder Brent Keys is still bothered by a hamstring injury and his return is uncertain.

The Hoppers jumped to a 5-0 lead Monday but scored just one run after that. Ryan Rieger hit a two-run homer in the first, Wilfredo Gimenez doubled home a run in the second and John Schultz added a solo shot in the fifth.