Tagert: RailCats in must-win spot
By Mike Clark Post-Tribune correspondent July 28, 2012 11:18PM
Scott M Bort/Post-Tribune Gary RailCats Media Day Mugs RC TAGERT GREG 2 050610.jpg PTSPT
Updated: August 30, 2012 6:36AM
GARY — You don’t often hear minor-league managers talking about must-win games, especially when there’s still a third of the season left.
But that’s where Greg Tagert believes the RailCats are after falling 9-2 to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks on Saturday night before a season-high crowd of 5,279 at U.S. Steel Yard.
Fargo is the American Association’s hottest team with 34 wins in its last 40 games, and Saturday night’s outcome was in doubt before the RedHawks put up five runs in the ninth against newly-signed reliever Tyler Vaske.
But Tagert could only see the glass as half-full as the RailCats (30-37) fell back to seven games under .500 and saw the momentum from their recent surge fade away.
“Right now this is the biggest game of the year,” he said of today’s 2:10 p.m. series finale. “It’s the difference between us saying we’re staying in this thing or not.”
To make the final month of the season interesting — and extend Tagert’s streak of never having a losing season as a minor-league manager — the RailCats will have to be more efficient at the plate.
Fargo hit three home runs on Saturday, including back-to-back shots by Ryan Stovall and Nic Jackson off starter Morgan Coombs (4-6) in the fifth. Eric Campbell added a three-run shot in the ninth.
“With this (Fargo) ballclub, they’re going to do some damage with the long ball, so we’ve got to do some damage we’re capable of,” Tagert said.
But Gary left two on in the first inning, couldn’t get a runner home from second with none out in the fourth and wasted a first-and-second, none-out opportunity in the eighth.
“We felt all along we we’re missing a couple potent bats,” said Tagert, who tried to address that by acquiring outfielder Asif Shah in a trade with Lincoln on Saturday.
“Who knows if Shah is that guy?” Tagert said, “What Shah (coming aboard) does is it deepens the lineup.”
Shah, who was in transit Saturday, was hitting .288 with three homers, 20 RBI and a team-best 19 doubles in 64 games for Lincoln. He was acquired with pitcher Alberto Rolan, who was 0-0 with a 16.20 ERA in two games for the Saltdogs and 2-4, 6.63 in 11 starts for St. Paul earlier this season. Lincoln received lefty reliever David Quinowski and outfielder Matt Forgatch in the trade.
Coombs retired the last eight batters he faced after Jackson’s homer, allowing four runs on six hits over seven innings.
“He’s got to be better at keeping the ball in the ballpark,” Tagert said. “The home run ball hurt him tonight but he pitched well enough to win a ballgame.”
Brian Kolb scored the RailCats’ first run on a Fargo error in the fourth and Adam Klein drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth. Mike Massaro was 1-for-4 to stretch his hitting streak to 10 games, the team’s longest this season.