Just last week, the Goldeyes were firing on all cylinders -- but in the second game of this series, the team's engine simply sputtered.
In the fourth, starting pitcher Matt Jackson struggled. Fielders stumbled. Bats fell silent against Sioux City Explorers starter John Straka, who finished with just six hits and two runs against him in seven innings on the mound, without walking a single Fish. Catcher Luis Alen managed to tap Straka for a lead-off solo home run in the third inning; Ray Sadler did the same in the seventh. That was all the scoring the Goldeyes could muster.
"He was able to throw a slider for strikes... mixed in a curveball, a change," Goldeyes manager Forney said. "When you have the ability to do that, you're going to succeed in this league. We've been swinging the bat as well as anybody in the league, but good pitching's always going to stifle good hitting. The greatest of hitters are going to make outs if you make good pitches to 'em."
Meanwhile, the Explorers' batters pounced on a mucky fourth inning, rattling off six hits and picking up five runs. Indeed, the visitors ran through their whole line-up in that inning, with two batters (third baseman Tommy Mendonca and catcher Todd Jennings) getting second helpings at the plate. By the time it was over, the Fish were down 7-1 before the game was even halfway done. Explorers second baseman Andres Perez' two-run homer in the sixth put the game away.
ON THE MOUND
Starter Matt Jackson has had a lot of fine games since joining the Fish last year, and came into this tilt with a 7-2 record and a 2.83 ERA in 10 starts. But on Wednesday he fell into some trouble: although he struck out seven hitters in just 3 2/3 innings on the mound, he also gave up 11 hits, seven runs and a walk in that short time. "They've beaten us the last two days, plain and simple," Forney said. "Tomorrow, we're gonna find a way to come back."
The Goldeyes have one last chance to salvage a win out of this series tonight at 7 p.m. Then the Fish will gear up to host the Gary-SouthShore RailCats for three tilts this weekend, starting on Friday night.