The bad news? So is their three-game winning streak.
The Crushers offense was held to just one run for the second straight game. Lake Erie starter Alex Kaminsky pitched effectively for seven innings Friday night, but the two runs he allowed — with the go-ahead run in the seventh — were enough for the River City Rascals to come away with a 3-1 win.
“Which one was it, the chicken or the egg?” said Crushers manager Jeff Isom, referring to whether the problem was the Crushers hitting or the Rascals pitching. “Their guys threw well, but it comes down to finding that clutch hit, and we’ve been talking about that the last week.
“We’ve got the right personnel, but they’re in a little funk right now. Their timing’s a little off. They hit a couple balls hard in the gap and their center fielder (Curran Redal) tracked them down for some big outs. Stuff’s going to start falling. We’re going to find some holes. We led the league (in hitting) for the first month-and-a-half with this group so there’s no question they can hit. It’s just a matter of getting things to fall.”
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Redal took away a perfect chance for the Crushers (30-28) to either tie the game or take the lead.
With two outs, reliever Patrick Crider gave up a single up the middle to Andrew Davis, who went 2-for-4 with the lone RBI. Right-hander Nick Kennedy relieved Crider and hit Daniel Bowman with a 2-2 pitch to put two on for Anderson Hidalgo.
Hidalgo, who had reached base in his previous three plate appearances, hit a sinking gap shot to right-center. The ball hung up long enough for Redal to catch it on the dead run to end the inning and salvage the lead.
“I saw that ball off his bat, and I thought, ‘Oh boy, I hope it doesn’t stay up in the air too long,’” Isom said. “(Redal) plays a very good center field and he came across and had a bead right on it. It’s just one of those things where you’ve got to grind out at-bats.
“When you’re swinging the bats like this, you’ve just got to grind them out, continue to have quality at-bats and see some pitches, take a walk, get hit by a pitch, find a way to get on. We’ll get through it.”
The Rascals got on the board first in the top of the third on a misplay by Crushers backup catcher David Roney. Kaminsky started the inning by giving up three straight singles to load the bases, but coaxed a foul out to Davis at third and shallow fly out to right by Steve Carrillo.
On Carrillo’s out, Phil Wunderlich tagged from third and attempted to score. Bowman fired a perfect strike to the plate that beat Wunderlich, but the ball got past Roney and went to the backstop, allowing Wunderlich to break the scoreless tie.
“With one out, they hit that sac fly and I knew, with Bowman throwing, it was going to be close. He’s been throwing the ball very well from the outfield,” Isom said. “It stayed down on Roney and didn’t come up like he thought it was going to.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t catch it and tag the guy. To their credit, they put the ball in play when they had to and forced the defense to make a play.”
Kaminsky (4-5) scattered seven hits in seven innings, allowing two runs with two walks and three strikeouts. He gave up the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh on a sinking pop fly to right that Bowman made a nice diving attempt on. The ball just squirted out of his glove for an RBI single by Eric Williams.
“He’s throwing the ball well,” Isom said. “In fact, the pitching staff is throwing the ball well in the month of July. They know if they go out and compete and if we can score a few runs, they’ll help us win. Our motto to our pitchers is to keep us in the game any way that they can. They’ve been doing that. Hats off to our pitching staff.
“Unfortunately, Bowman couldn’t make that catch. It would have been a shoestring catch, but he said it was in his glove and he couldn’t believe he didn’t have it. It’s a tough break right there. Defensively, we’ve been very solid. It’s just a matter of getting a break here and there.”
The Crushers had just tied the score in the bottom of the sixth when Kevin Berard led off with a ground-rule double and came home on Davis’ single up the middle — Davis’ team-high 38th RBI. With two outs, Hidalgo hit a single up the middle and Davis tried to score from third, but the throw from Redal was just in time to end the inning.