- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Blue Crabs blow 5-run lead vs. Sugar Land
By DALLAS COGLEStaff writer
Set on avoiding their third straight losing half season after the franchise boasted seven straight with a winning record from its origination, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs split their initial four games after the All-Star break in Sugar Land with a pair left in the series entering Tuesday’s action that finished too late for inclusion into this edition.
The Blue Crabs’ 2-2 start to the second half of this season had them a game out of first in the Liberty Division behind frontrunner Bridgeport (3-1) after Monday’s 8-7 shortcoming. The Blue Crabs were tied with Long Island, both a half game behind Camden (2-1).
The Blue Crabs will most likely have to win the division this second half to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season after a dismal first half, which saw them finish an uncharacteristic 30-40 to assume the cellar-dweller position among the four teams.
The Blue Crabs were in prime position Monday to win their second straight contest and claim three of the first four games in the series but could not protect a 7-2 lead after a six-run outburst in the top of the fifth inning.
Sugar Land rallied with six unanswered runs from the fifth through seventh, in the process scoring in five straight frames, and used three home runs to spark the comeback, including the game-deciding two-run long ball from Manuel Mejia in the seventh.
Despite the Blue Crabs’ second straight game Monday of registering at least seven runs — the first time the lineup has done such since May 31 — their usually reliable pitching was unable to hold the substantial lead.
“There’s definitely a different morale with our lineup,” Blue Crabs slugger Travis Garcia said after he cranked a three-run homer Monday to highlight the team’s big fifth, going deep in back-to-back games.
Garcia’s dangerous bat appears to be back after being out for more than two months with a bone spur on his right elbow that needed surgery.
He added, “What I noticed when I was coaching first [while injured] was everyone was down in the dugout, kind of the same ole, same ole [as the losses mounted in the first half]. We had a lot of injuries in the first half. We had six guys go under the knife and we lost some guys. There were a lot of games we blew leads. It was a constant mental beatdown.
“It seems like we’re like the normal team I’m used to seeing in the past. We have that fight again.”
The six-game series, longer than usual to make the most of the traveling mode through the friendly skies for the Blue Crabs, concludes at 7:05 tonight in the Houston, Texas suburb before both clubs enjoy an off-day Thursday.
The Blue Crabs were 7-1 victors on Sunday, storming out of the gates with a three-run inning in the first and second and then riding the impressive complete-game performance of Nick Green. The righty scattered just six hits while allowing his only run in the eighth with three strikeouts and a walk.
It was a much-needed, bounce-back performance by the Blue Crabs after they fell 8-0 on Saturday.
The Blue Crabs opened the series, and the second half, Friday with a 3-2 win in 10 innings on Casey Benjamin’s game-clinching, two-out double in the final frame that plated Mike Daniel with the winning run.
Jim Ed Warden worked a perfect bottom of the frame to convert his fifth straight save opportunity, as he is steadily returning to his effective closing form after a nightmarish start to the season.
“I love my pitching. We are a little banged up in the bullpen right now, but our pitching is fine,” said Blue Crabs 31-year-old manager Pat Osborn, who played in his fourth game Monday since July 5 due to the team’s numerous injuries across the infield. “[Starter Dan] Reichert was great Friday and Green was great Sunday.”
Osborn — stationed at third base defensively for the second straight game Monday where he started for the Blue Crabs from 2008 to 2010 before entering the managerial ranks last season — has gotten on base in each of his four contests with at least one hit in each of his three starts.
He added about the Blue Crabs’ inability to put Sugar Land away Monday with a sizeable lead midway through, “I’m not disappointed at all. I thought we played well. I give Sugar Land credit for coming back in a game that we had control of.”
Blue Crabs left fielder Brian Barton saw his 11-game hit streak come to an end Monday despite scoring a run after being hit with a pitch with the bases loaded during the fifth. He was batting .310, good enough for 10th in the league entering Tuesday.
“It’s always real disappointing when we have opportunities to close teams out,” Barton said about Monday’s outcome. “When you have a team down, you just have to finish them off. You want to take advantage [of a big lead].
“I hope this loss does [stick in our claw] so we show a sense of urgency the next time, though you never want to panic. At the same time, you don’t want to give games away.”
Atlantic League second-half standings
(Standings as of Monday)
Liberty Division W L Pct. GB Streak Last 10 Overall
Bridgeport 3 1 .750 ---- W-1 7-3 34-40
Camden 2 1 .667 0.5 W-2 6-4 36-36
*Long Island 2 2 .500 1.0 W-2 2-8 41-32
Southern Maryland 2 2 .500 1.0 L-1 4-6 32-42
Freedom Division W L Pct. GB Streak Last 10 Overall
*Lancaster 3 0 1.000 ---- W-3 9-1 48-25
Sugar Land 2 2 .500 1.5 W-1 4-6 31-43
Somerset 1 3 .250 2.5 L-3 5-5 36-38
York 0 4 .000 3.5 L-4 3-7 36-38
*First-half division winner, playoff berth clinched
MondaySugar Land 8, Blue Crabs 7
Blue Crabs 000 160 000 7 7 0
Sugar Land 001 113 20x 8 12 2
WP Giron (1-0), LP Barrett (0-1), Save Majewski (10)
Extra-base hits: 2B Pressley (SL, 11); HR Garcia (BC, 2), Suarez (SL, 3), Mejia (SL, 2), Hagen (SL, 4)
SundayBlue Crabs 7, Sugar Land 1
Blue Crabs 330 010 000 7 9 0
Sugar Land 000 000 010 1 6 0
WP Green (5-6), LP Kazmir (0-2)
Extra-base hits: 2B Rios (BC, 5); 3B Barton (BC, 4); HR Garcia (BC, 1)
SaturdaySugar Land 8, Blue Crabs 0
Blue Crabs 000 000 000 0 3 2
Sugar Land 012 032 00x 8 9 1
WP Lane (2-2), LP Vasquez (4-6)
Extra-base hits: 2B Suarez (SL, 11), Pressley (SL, 10), Megia (SL, 3); HR Pressley (BC, 8)
FridayBlue Crabs 3, Sugar Land 2 (10 inn.)
Blue Crabs 200 000 000 1 3 6 2
Sugar Land 100 000 010 0 2 9 1
WP Morlan (2-2), LP Frias (0-1), Save Warden (8)
Extra-base hits: 2B Owens (BC, 13), Benjamin (BC, 13), Garcia (BC, 2); 3B Benjamin (BC, 5), Ramos (SL, 5)