RailCats’ playoff hopes take a hit with loss
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org August 21, 2012 11:16PM
Gary's Adam Klein connects for a lead off single in the first inning Tuesday evening against Winnipeg at the Steel Yard in Gary. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:23AM
GARY — When the RailCats traded Mike Coles to Winnipeg on Aug. 6, they essentially were waving the white flag on their season, at least as far as postseason aspirations were concerned.
Remarkably, a little more than two weeks later, they have played their way into the playoffs contention picture.
However, their 7-2 loss to Coles and the Goldeyes on Tuesday night at the Steel Yard was a considerable setback to their improbable late-season push.
The RailCats (44-44) fell to 51⁄2 games (six in the loss column) behind wild-card leading Winnipeg (49-38). Their five-game win streak came to a screeching halt, and the Goldeyes snapped a four-game losing streak.
“We need to wipe that one away quickly, and get back out there
tomorrow,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. “Certainly everything is magnified right now.”
Going into the series, the RailCats realized they still faced a daunting task. Tagert said it is “naïve” to think simply winning series will suffice at this point.
“I’m always optimistic, but it would take something very special in terms of winning a lot of games and getting a lot of help from other people. … That’s not to say it can’t be done,” he said. “I’d say tomorrow is pretty critical from those circumstances.”
Entering Tuesday, Coles was hitting .235 with no RBI and four runs scored in 13 games with Winnipeg. The Hammond native went 2-for-5 with two runs scored in this game, playing center field and leading off.
With the RailCats, he hit .300 with 43 RBI, to go along with three home runs, 19 stolen bases and a .393 on-base percentage.
Coles recalled his conversation with Tagert about the trade.
“At first, when he mentioned it to me, I just kind of asked, is it up to me?” he said before the game. “He didn’t know how to answer it, and we just kind of looked at each other. I guess if it was up to me, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to play for a championship. But then again, at the same time, I’m a loyal person, and if anybody I owe, and anyone worth being loyal to, it’s him. Seven, eight years ago (when the then-rookie Coles made the RailCats out of their open tryout in
2006), whatever it was, if he wasn’t a fair guy like he is, who knows what I’d be doing now? I have nothing but respect for him, and what he’s done for me.”
Now, the RailCats have joined the Goldeyes as possible postseason participants — the RailCats have an outside chance, at least.
“The next thing you know, they’ve snuck up in with that favorable schedule they had, with Sioux Falls and Lincoln, which I knew that too,” Coles said. “There really was still a chance having all those teams to play. Now I look at it, they’ve snuck back in. Now the series is meaningful.”
Tagert said before the game: “The deal at the time was certainly made for the right reasons.
“It’s not going to be foreign for us to see Mike in another lineup, but after this year, it will be different.”
Coles certainly is focusing on the rest of this season, but he intends to continue playing beyond.
“I’m playing hopefully another season or two,” he said, adding he would consider returning to the RailCats. “More likely two, but next season for sure.”
In his debut with Winnipeg, Mexican League import Barbaro Canizares went 4-for-5 with five RBI on Tuesday.
The Goldeyes jumped on Stephen Hiscock for three runs in the first, as the first five batters reached base. Canizares had a two-run single to highlight the inning.
Winnipeg added two runs in the second, with Canizares having a run-scoring single.
“Those extra two runs in the second were huge,” Tagert said. “It was a turning point in the game, and it was an uphill climb for us.”
Mike Massaro hit a two-run homer for the RailCats in the sixth, his team-leading sixth of the season.
Hiscock (4-6) went five innings, allowing six runs on 11 hits.
“We had our best guy tonight, and certainly he’ll be better next time,” Tagert said.
Andrew Johnston, who had been on the inactive list since June 12 because of a back injury, pitched a perfect sixth. The RailCats had activated the veteran right-hander before the game, placing rookie first baseman Kenny Bryant on the disabled list.
He started five games at the beginning of the season, but now will work out of the bullpen. Johnston, who threw a simulated game within the last several days, likely will not pitch on back-to-back days.
“He has assured us he feels ready to go. ... We’re going to trust him,” Tagert said. “Why not? We’re going to take a chance.”
Ace Walker (8-4) picked up the win for Winnipeg, allowing two runs on seven hits in 62⁄3 innings.