NILES -The Mahoning Valley Scrappers began Thursday's seven inning doubleheader against the Tri-City ValleyCats sporting a seven game losing streak. The Scrappers extended that streak to nine games after losing the first 4-1 in eight innings, and the second, 1-0.
Game one played out similarly to the trend for the struggling Scrappers. In the top of the fifth, ValleyCats right fielder Ronnie Mitchell reached on an error after first baseman Nellie Rodriguez misplayed a chopping ground ball. A sacrifice bunt moved Mitchell to second.
On a 2-2 count, third baseman Ryan Dineen delivered Tri-City's first base hit of the game with an RBI single, breaking the 0-0 tie.
Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
Scrappers’s Claudio Bautista is tagged out by Tri-City’s Tony Kemp.
The Scrappers managed to get a run of their own in the sixth, tying the game at one, without recording a hit in the inning. With one out, center fielder Cody Ferrell reached after an errant throw to first by ValleyCats' pitcher Adrian Houser. The Scrappers later drew three walks to score their only run of the game. The Scrappers inning was halted after the RBI walk for Claudio Bautista as third basesman Robel Garcia struck out, leaving the bases loaded.
Bautista had the Scrappers only hit in the game with a single in the second inning.
The game remained tied at one until the top of the eighth. With one out in the extra inning, Tri-City delivered three consecutive hits. Vanderbilt draftee Tony Kemp hit a two-run double down the left field line to give the ValleyCats a 3-1 lead. Kemp would later score on a wild pitch, which would be the final run to cross the plate in the game.
The Scrappers are currently sporting a nine game losing streak. The franchise record for consecutive loses is 10, which came in July, 2001. The team finished the 2001 with a last-place record of 26-49. The Scrappers are currently in last place in the Pinckney Division, 9 games back, with a 7-18 record.
Pitchers Dace Kime and Kenny Mathews started their second and third professional games, respectively, each throwing two perfect innings.
Kime, who started game one, struck out the first two batters he faced showing good control and command on the mound.
"I like his (Kime) presence on the mound, I like his demeanor," manager Ted Kubiak said. "He looks like a starter-type pitcher to me. He's composed ... the ball was sliding tonight."
Mathews struck out three in his two innings of work, throwing only six balls in 25 pitches.
"Mathews has been good," Kubiak said. "He's kept the ball down. All the young kids that we've drafted have done a great job on the mound. They've pitched well."
"It's been a good experience. Just getting my feet wet, getting out there throwing my pitches and breaking myself into the competition. Just keeping it simple and not changing too much from what got me to this point in my career. I'm not trying to make the game different."
The Indians organization is getting these first year pitchers acclimated to the professional level by limiting the innings early and working towards longer outings.
"They're breaking me in slow," Mathews said. "I was told this is my last two inning start. I wasn't at spring training. I didn't get to go and do all the stuff that all these guys have been doing. They're just getting me broke into the pro lifestyle, the grind and everything. I'm definitely looking forward to getting out there and being able to compete through three plus, four plus (innings)."
Game two was not much better for the Scrappers. They managed only two hits in the 1-0 loss. Those hits came off the bat of center fielder Cody Ferrell, who led off the game for the Scrappers with a first pitch single to left, and Paul Hendrix, who singled with one out in the second. Hendrix was the only Scrapper to reach second base after a balk by Bushue.
Tri-City didn't have much offensive production either, recording only three hits. The difference for the ValleyCats was that they were able to string multiple hits in one inning. First baseman D'Andre Toney lead-off the sixth inning with a single and with two outs and Toney on second, center fielder James Ramsay hit an RBI single, driving in the games only run.
"It was just a bad night. I mean one hit is not going to do it," Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak said. "They didn't hit much better, the thing was their hits were productive, that was it.
"Nothing is happening with us right now, and that happens. It's not an excuse, but it does happen. You don't get anything going your way. It happens in the game, and sometimes everything goes your way. But, it all evens out."
The Scrappers look to break the losing streak tonight at 7:05 p.m. as they finish three-game series with Tri-City.