RailCats go cold in loss to Sioux Falls
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org May 29, 2012 11:18PM
Updated: July 3, 2012 12:50PM
GARY — Andrew Johnston turned in the longest outing from a starter this season.
Justin Roelle made a strong debut with the team out of the bullpen.
But the RailCats still fell to Sioux Falls 5-0 on Tuesday at the Steel Yard.
A day after amassing 16 runs on 20 hits in a rout of the Pheasants (5-6), the RailCats (5-7) were shut out for the first time this season — actually since a 1-0 loss to Shreveport-Bossier on Aug. 14 last season — and matched a season low with four hits.
“Exact opposite, Jekyll and Hyde, whatever the phrases are,” manager Greg Tagert said. “But clearly we have a long ways to go. Clearly.
“We have to get that consistency back. That’s one extreme to the other on a couple occasions,” he added, mentioning the May 20 doubleheader at St. Paul.
Johnston went 62/3 innings, allowing the five runs (four earned) on nine hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Sioux Falls was aggressive at the outset and put up four runs in the first, capped by former RailCats slugger Cristian Guerrero’s three-run homer. One of the runs was unearned, after a Rico Washington throwing error.
Johnston had gone five shutout innings in his previous start against Wichita, and recently traded Mike Perconte also had a five-inning outing.
“Andrew, he did exactly what we needed to get deep in the ballgame,” Tagert said. “But as happened the first couple of times around the rotation, we’ve given up some runs.
“We made another error, but it’s the starting pitcher’s responsibility to limit the damage. And Cristian came up with the big homer. One inning was the difference again. ... At the end of the day, it’s not too bad. We need better (from Johnston), but not too bad.”
Roelle signed before the game, and allowed one hit with three strikeouts in 11/3 innings in relief of Johnston. The 31-year-old left-hander had attended the team’s open tryout, having spent the 2004 season in the White Sox organization and 2005 to ’07 in the Frontier League.
“He’s looking at this as an opportunity. ... If he (Roelle) pitches like that — that was a good outing,” said Tagert, who expected Marco Gonzales — who pitched four seasons in the Cardinals organization, reaching Triple-A in 2009, and with Lake County in the Northern League in 2010 — to arrive on Tuesday night, with lefty T.J. Wohlever (strained rib cage) likely going on the disabled list.
Sioux Falls starter Mitchell Clegg allowed three hits with two walks and four strikeouts in seven innings.
Adam Klein had two of Gary’s four hits, in four at-bats.
“I really hate to say it, but that was the first left-handed starting pitcher we’ve seen in 11 games,” he said. “Do I want to say that it influenced it? Maybe. We’re such a left-handed heavy team, and we have to get accustomed to it.”
Said Tagert: “We didn’t compete very well offensively. The players were a little frustrated with the strike zone; that’s the responsibility of the player.”
After serving as the designated hitter for the first 11 games of the season because of a strained oblique, Klein started in left field on Tuesday. Mike Massaro, who had started the first 11 games in right field, was the DH.
“I’d much rather be in the outfield than DHing, driving them crazy, pacing back and forth. ... I felt like I was ready to go,” Klein said.
“I have to be smart out there. I just felt good to be out there and contributing to the ballclub more than possibly by just DHing.”