- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Five runs must have felt like 50 Monday for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, who finally displayed an offensive pulse after undergoing possibly the most prolonged stretch of scoring futility in the history of the sixth-year franchise’s existence.
The handful of runs were the most the Blue Crabs had scored in a game all month, last scoring that many back on July 29, and equaled their output from their previous four games combined.
The Blue Crabs claimed a 5-3 victory at Bridgeport for their second straight win that followed an eight-game losing streak, a disappointing 1-5 homestand that concluded Sunday occurring in the process.
During the nine games before Monday, the Blue Crabs experienced offensive doldrums of a rare sort. They averaged two runs per contest in those nine games, scoring just once in five games, including three straight from Thursday through Saturday, while wasting stellar starting pitching in the process.
The Blue Crabs pitched well enough to win most, if not all, of those nine games that saw them manage a 1-8 mark. They allowed just 3.3 runs per contest during the nine-game stretch.
But with little offensive support, the quality mound work was all for naught outside of Sunday’s game when the Blue Crabs managed to squeak out a 2-1 win.
“There have been a lot of games where we haven’t hit, period,” said Blue Crabs catcher Alvin Colina, one of the team’s few bright spots in the batting order this month. Colina’s two-run home run in the fourth inning Monday opened the scoring and put the Blue Crabs up to stay, as he boasted his second straight multi-hit game with a 3-for-4 performance and his fourth multi-hit showing in his last eight games.
He added, “There have been plenty of games where we only get [a few] hits and we score one run, two at the most. A lot of times when you get a lineup like that, even if a guy is hot, [the opposing pitcher] is just not going to pitch to him because the whole team is just not hitting. We’re going to have to be better at what we do [offensively], and we’ve shown we’re capable of doing that. And we will.”
The Blue Crabs (14-23 second half, 51-55 overall) were hoping to add to their first winning streak in 11 days when they played the second affair of their three-game series in Bridgeport (15-22, 38-69) on Tuesday, which ended too late for inclusion into this edition.
The Blue Crabs are in the midst of a seven-game road trip that has them venturing to Camden (14-23, 38-69) for a four-game set after completing their Bridgeport series at 7:05 tonight.
Much like the first half of the this season, the Blue Crabs’ weak Liberty Division still has them in the hunt this second half despite their struggling sub-.500 record.
The Blue Crabs were six games behind frontrunner Long Island (20-17, 50-57) in this second half entering Tuesday.
However, by virtue of winning the first-half division title, the Blue Crabs have already stamped their way into the playoffs for a fifth straight year so the second half is really nothing more than a tune-up for their postseason hopes.
No matter where they finish in the second half, the Blue Crabs want to get the offense straightened out going into the playoffs as they will be bidding for their first Atlantic League championship.
“The fortunate thing for us is we’ve got time to get things going in the right direction [offensively], and this win will hopefully spark something and carry over to this road trip and just get us some momentum for this playoff run we’re about to take,” center fielder/hitting coach Jeremy Owens said after the Blue Crabs won Sunday’s pitcher’s duel.
He belted a two-run homer in the sixth Monday to give the Blue Crabs a 5-0 lead at the time. The long balls that Owens and Colina hit were the first homers by the Blue Crabs in six games, dating back to Tuesday of last week.
The lack of the instant-offense home run in the Blue Crabs lineup epitomized their scoring demons throughout the nine games as much as anything.
“I don’t want to say [the nine games offensively are] the worst [stretch we’ve had in Blue Crabs history], because at least we’re putting the ball in play and giving ourselves a chance,” added Owens, who’s been with the club throughout its existence minus the first month of the inaugural 2008 season. “If we can just get some two-out hits, these games [throughout the nine contests of little offense] could be totally different. I like the effort guys are putting in. We’re not folding or nothing.”
Blue Crabs third-year manager Patrick Osborn, who was the team’s third baseman during the club’s first three seasons, said after Monday’s game, “[Those nine straight games of little offense] were a rough stretch. Off the top of my head, yeah, I can’t remember a week and-a-half that our offense has struggled like that [in franchise history]. It made it more frustrating because we pitched so well during that stretch.
“[The offensive breakout] is coming. We were close over the weekend. We were a big hit or two away from doing some damage.”
The Blue Crabs starting pitchers saw their noteworthy outings get spoiled by the team’s lack of offense.
Righties Daryl Thompson and Ian Marshall were impressive Friday and Saturday, respectively, each tossing six shutout innings. Thompson, the Hughesville native, allowed just three hits, while Marshall yielded four base knocks. Both were dealt no-decisions as the Blue Crabs lost Friday, 3-1, and Saturday by a 2-1 outcome.
Thursday saw Gaby Hernandez also last six innings for the Blue Crabs, surrendering two runs on six hits, but he absorbed a tough-luck loss in a 3-1 setback.
Even in Sunday’s 2-1 win, Blue Crabs starter Wade Korpi was saddled with a no-decision after he tossed 5 2/3 innings with only one run allowed on three hits.
“The talk ought to be our pitching staff,” Owens said. “Our pitching staff has been a typical Blue Crab pitching staff, just carrying us the entire way. They’re the guys you ought to be talking to.”