from Bill Hass on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com:
Hoppers look to break out of bad cycle
Every team goes through stretches in a baseball season when things just don’t go right.
The Hoppers are in one of those cycles. Mired in a six-game losing streak, they had an off day Tuesday and manager Jorge Hernandez did not have the team practice. They resume play with a seven-game road trip that starts Wednesday at West Virginia. After three games there, they will play four at Kannapolis.
Perhaps going on the road will help. The Hoppers are 6-5 away from NewBridge Bank Park and just 5-9 at home. After winning the first game of the just-completed home stand, they lost the next two against Hickory and then were swept in four games by Rome.
Against the Braves, the Hoppers couldn’t hit when they pitched well and couldn’t pitch when they hit well. They lost pitchers’ duels by 2-1 and 1-0 (in 10 innings) and slugfests by 10-6 and 9-6.
“We’re just not clicking right now,” Hernandez said. “We’re not doing the little things. That’s baseball, but it can be frustrating.”
Monday’s doubleheader loss to the Braves (full disclosure — I was not able to be there) was an example of the pattern. In the opener, Greensboro got outstanding pitching from starter Andrew Steckenrider (5 innings, 1 hit, 8 strikeouts) and the bullpen. The seven-inning game was scoreless and extended into the 10th before the Braves scratched out a run against Dane Stone.
“We had opportunities to score,” Hernandez said. “We had runners on second and third with one out and couldn’t get them in.”
In the second game, the Hoppers swung the bats better but they were constantly battling from behind. Every time they closed the gap or tied the game, a pitcher would give up more runs in the top of the next inning. Starter Austin Brice did not record an out in the fourth inning and altogether was hammered for seven runs and 10 hits.
“He was up in the zone and got hit hard,” Hernandez said. “We’ve got to stay away from those long innings after we score.”
In a box score oddity, every Hoppers hitter had one hit but no one had two. There were four homers, all solo, by Cody Keefer, Viosergy Rosa, Sharif Othman and Jesus Solorzano. For Rosa, it was his fourth homer of the home stand.
So how do the Hoppers break out of this slump?
“We need some guys to get hot,” Hernandez said. “We’re not picking up the slack in some games. We seem more focused on the road, so if we can put a couple of wins together maybe we can get something going.”
Hernandez said third baseman Yordy Cabrera, who missed three games with turf toe, should be back in the lineup Wednesday.
Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann, with Rome on a rehab stint, went 0-for-4 in the first game Monday and did not play in the second. He completed the series 3-for-11 but did damage with two home runs Friday and a crucial RBI double Saturday.
“It took us two games to learn how to pitch to him,” Hernandez said. “He didn’t hit the ball hard on Monday. That’s what we needed from the beginning of the series.”
ALUMNI NOTES: With Giancarlo Stanton (2008) being placed on the DL, the Marlins recalled Marcell Ozuna (2011) from Jacksonville … Ozuna was just named the Southern League’s player of the week. In five games hie hit five homers and drove in 11 runs. He hit a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth as the Suns rallied for seven runs to beat Chattanooga … Christian Yelich (2011) had a two-run double in the ninth and a three-run homer earlier in that game … Also, the Marlins recalled left-hander Brad Hand (2009) from New Orleans to help in the bullpen.