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Rally falls short for ‘sloppy’ RailCats

Railcat's Chase Tucker dives trying tag Canaries' J.P. Ramirez out 2nd The Steel Yard Saturday June 8 2013. | Jim

Railcat's Chase Tucker dives trying to tag Canaries' J.P. Ramirez out at 2nd at The Steel Yard on Saturday June 8, 2013. | Jim Karczewski~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 10, 2013 7:04AM



GARY — The banged-up RailCats employed an unfamiliar lineup on Saturday night.

But there were no excuses for their 8-6 loss to Sioux Falls at the Steel Yard, nor were they offering any.

“We just have to tighten it up,” Mike Massaro said. “We’ve gotten a little sloppy defensively. With us, we have to pitch and we have to play defense. We’re not a team that’s going to go out and hit a bunch of home runs, but we’re going to scrap and we’re going to get our runs — we get a lot late because we’re scrappy. But we have to tighten it up.”

The RailCats (11-10) scored the game’s final five runs — two in the seventh and three in the ninth, getting the potential tying run to first as they had runners on the corners with two outs — but could not overcome their 8-1 deficit.

“You don’t want a spirited rally to overshadow some of the shortcomings of tonight, and I hope the guys aren’t fooled by that,” manager Greg Tagert said.

The RailCats still had Alain Quijano on the mound, but their Opening Day starter and recent American Association Pitcher of the Week could not prevent them from suffering their first three-game losing streak of the season, with them having lost five of their last six. After having won three straight starts with a 0.47 ERA, the left-hander lost his second straight outing, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and five walks in six innings. Sioux Falls (10-13) scored single runs in the first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

“Alain certainly wasn’t as sharp as he’s been, even though he did limit the damage to the one run,” Tagert said.

Canaries starter Kyle Ruwe held the RailCats to three runs (two earned) on six hits with no walks in seven innings. In his team debut, catcher Tyler Smith drove in all three of those runs, going 2-for-3 with a run-scoring single in the fifth and a two-run double in the seventh.

“He knows how to pitch,” Massaro said of Ruwe. “He’s been doing it a long time, he’s been doing it the same way a long time. He changes speeds, he changes locations, he makes you get yourself out.”

In his RailCats debut, just-signed lefty James Adkins worked the final 11/3 innings, allowing one hit. In between Quijano and Adkins, Kyle Lindquist allowed three runs (two earned) — all in the seventh — in 12/3 innings.

“The most important thing was Lindquist’s inning there — we get the two outs and he gives up the three big runs after two outs,” Tagert said.

“We need Kyle to get us through one inning and turn it over to the rest of the guys in the bullpen, and he did not do his job. Unfortunately, that’s been the story of the last couple nights — we just haven’t done very well at doing our jobs.”

Nick Van Stratten paced the Sioux Falls offense by going 3-for-4 with a single, double, triple, walk and three runs scored.

Adam Klein, who had hit leadoff and started in left field for the RailCats in each of the first 20 games of the season, sat out on Saturday because of illness; he stayed home as to not risk potentially infecting teammates. Second baseman Chase Tucker led off, usual first baseman Steve Liddle (who came up as an outfielder at Vanderbilt and in the Minnesota Twins organization) played left, and Danny Pulfer played first.

Catcher Craig Maddox didn’t start (he did pinch-hit in the ninth) after he had started behind the plate seven straight games with Ryan Babineau sidelined with a groin injury; that had opened the door for Smith. Without Maddox (17 games) or Babineau (three), Liddle moved up a spot to hit cleanup.

On the plus side of the health ledger for the RailCats, shortstop Zac Mitchell returned to their lineup after having not started the four previous games because of a finger injury.

Note: Ari Ronick (3-1, 2.92 ERA) is scheduled to start Sunday’s series finale for the RailCats, against Sioux Falls lefty Mitchell Clegg (0-0, 6.75).



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