RailCats fall back to .500 mark with two games left
By Candace Buckner Post-Tribune correspondent September 1, 2012 11:28PM
Updated: October 3, 2012 6:35AM
GARY — As the RailCats season rushes to a close — only plane tickets back home await Gary players who will not make the playoffs — thoughts on the future weighed on manager Greg Tagert’s mind.
For instance, losses like Saturday’s 6-2 handling by first-place Laredo cannot continue to blemish RailCats pitcher Morgan Coombs’ scouting report.
Gary dropped to 49-49 while Laredo (53-45) can clinch the American Association South Division with one more win.
Coombs, a 24-year-old who ranks high among league pitchers for the wrong reasons, struggled to close out innings. Laredo scored three of the four runs off Coombs with two outs – including the two-run home run served up by Stephen Pearson, the eight-hole batter.
“The home run ball got Morgan again,” Tagert said. “For him to become more consistent in the rotation and have a chance to have a lot of success at this level, he’s going to have to settle that problem.”
Laredo doubled its lead to 4-2 after that fourth-inning home run; the 18th allowed by Coombs this season, which makes him the third-most long ball battered pitcher in the league.
Coombs’ night ended in the fifth and although reliever Estevan Uriegas also could not get out of a seventh-inning jam, allowing a two-out, two-run single to Palmer Karr, Jr., Coombs picked up his ninth loss.
After the game, Tagert did not mince words when evaluating Coombs’ season performance.
“In Morgan’s case, it’s been a little bit of a story this year,” Tagert said. “He’s been tremendous in many of his outings and then some other outings, just inconsistent enough where it puts the club in the hole.”
The RailCats also lacked punch at the plate, stranding eight runners on base.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t do much offensively against (Ryan) Sasaki,” Tagert said of the Laredo starting lefty. “The difference in the ball game, they got two big, two-out (hits). … we couldn’t get that extra one across when we needed to.”