This updated story from the Wild Things' 2-1 loss Friday night in 12 innings to the Frontier Greys didn't make it into print today because it was past the O-R's deadline. It does appear on the O-R's website.
Wild Things' latest one-run loss leaves Bozzuto fuming
By Chris Dugan
If the Wild Things want to know why they are struggling with a 12-19 record, then all they need to do is look at their performance in one-run games and home contests to find the answer.
More than half of Washington’s losses have been by one run, the latest a 2-1 setback Friday night to the Frontier Greys – the league’s homeless traveling team – in 12 innings at Consol Energy Park.
The Greys’ Jhimor Veras hit a game-tying, pinch-hit solo homer with one out in the top of the ninth inning and Brandon Tierney scored from second base on a single by Ben Lodge, who entered the game as a defensive replacement, with two outs in the top of the 12th.
The loss dropped the Wild Things’ record to 2-10 in one-run games. They also are 4-12 at home, which is the worst mark in the league. Washington also is winless in two games that have gone to the International Tiebreaker, losing both at home.
Perhaps it was the latest case of this-close misery, and one day after a baffling decision by the umpiring crew to end the Wild Things’ game against Southern Illinois because of rain – though the rain had stopped – with the Miners leading 3-2 in the seventh inning, that set off Washington manager Bob Bozzuto. Or it simply could have been a disputed out call in the bottom of the 11th inning against the Greys.
With the score tied 1-1, the Frontier League’s new International Tiebreaker format – each half inning begins with a runner on second base and no outs -- began in the 11th. After holding the Greys scoreless in the top of the frame, Washington began the bottom of the 11th with Scott Kalmar at second base. C.J. Beatty put down a bunt that pitcher Nick Anderson (2-0) fielded and threw to Tierney, the Greys’ third baseman.
The throw was in plenty of time to get Kalamar, but the Wild Things’ right fielder made a hard slide and cut the feet out from under Tierney, who appeared to never make a tag on Kalamar, who overslid third base. Kalamar alertly got his feet and scrambled back to the bag. Base umpire Sal Giacomantonio called Kalamar safe and Greys manager Vinny Ganz bolted from the dugout to argue. Moments later, Giacomantonio, after briefly conferring with home plate umpire Mike Martin, changed his call and ruled Kalamar out.
That set off Bozzuto, who was still steaming about the reversed call 20 minutes after the game.
“I argued because (Giacomantonio) called him safe. I asked him why he needed help to make the call? His excuse was that we don’t have three (umpires). Well, if his job is to make the call at third base, then why does he need a third guy? Why? Because he’s not good.”
In the top of the 12th, Tierney, the designated runner because he was the last batter in the 11th, was still at second base with two outs. An intentional walk brought up Lodge, who singled through the left side of the infield against Washington reliever Richie Mirowski (0-2). The throw to home plate from Beatty was in time to get Tierney but sailed high and glanced off the top of catcher John Fidanza’s glove, allowing Tierney to score. Fidanza had attempted to make a leaping catch.
In the bottom of the 12th, Danny Poma began the inning at second base but David Popkins’ sacrifice bunt attempt was fielded by Greys catcher Julio Rodriguez, who threw to third base to retire Poma. Austin Wobrock delivered his third hit of the game with two outs off Anderson but the Wild Things were unable to advance a runner past second base.
The Wild Things stranded 10 baserunners in addition to having one runner thrown out at home plate, two at third base, one at second base and another ventured too far around first base on a single and was thrown out while scrambling back to the bag. With Washington leading 1-0 in the eighth, Kalamar tried to score on a single by Beatty but was out at the plate on a strong throw by Greys center fielder Matt Williams.
“We didn’t make plays,” Bozzuto said. “We didn’t get bunts down and the way we ran the bases was awful. All that aside, we go into the 11th inning with a chance to win because stopped them and began the inning with a runner at second base, but we bunt the ball back to the pitcher.
“It was a lack of execution. That has been the story of our season. We’re not getting timely hits and we’re not executing. It’s frustrating. The guys are trying.”
For most of the night, the game was a pitcher’s duel between Washington starter Matt Sergey and the Greys’ Jordan Kraus.
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning against Kraus, a former Wheeling Jesuit University pitcher who is on the Cardinals’ coaching staff. Popkins, who started at designated hitter, tripled off the wall in right centerfield and scored one out later when Austin Wobrock laced a double down the right-field line. Wobrock was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
Kraus pitched well in his first start against the Wild Things, scattering seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out four.
Sergey was sharp from the outset. He allowed only one Greys player to reach third base through the first eight innings and took a three-hit shutout into the ninth.
Sergey got Francisco Rosario to pop out to third base to start the ninth and the Wild Things were within two outs of a victory. Veras then entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Matt Williams, the Greys’ leadoff batter, and hit a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left field to tie the score at 1-1. Beatty, Washington’s left fielder, made a leaping attempt to catch the ball but it carried too far over the wall. It was Veras’ fifth home run of the season.
“Sergey should have won that game,” Bozzuto said. “He did a great job. He was in control. Give Veras credit. He ran into one and did his job. It gets aggravating because the pitchers are doing their job. We should have scored more tonight.”
The Wild Things made two more roster moves Friday afternoon, releasing, Edinson Rincon and Ryan Mathews, a pair of outfielders who were on the disabled list. Rincon was one of three former Double-A players from the San Diego Padres system who were signed in the offseason. He played in only 13 games and went 8-for-43 (.186) with 13 strikeouts and two doubles. He had not played since May 31. Mathews began the year by playing one game with Oakland’s Double-A affiliate, was released and signed by Fargo-Moorhead of the American Association, then released and signed by the Wild Things. With Washington, Mathews played in six games and went 2-for-21 (.095). … Washington first baseman Lee Orr was a late scratch from the starting lineup and replaced by Brady North. … Rodriguez snapped his bat in half over his right knee in frustration after striking out in the 12th inning. … Wild Things reliever Matt Purnell pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 0.39. ... Washington outhit the Greys 10-7. … The Greys (13-16) are two games ahead of the Wild Things in the East Division.