If you were to pen a succinct scouting report on the Winnipeg Goldeyes right now it would go something like this:
Banged up, beat up and plumb tuckered out.
Here's the thing, though, as the Fish dropped a 3-1 decision to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in front of 6,434 at Shaw Park Saturday night -- their current plight will draw little sympathy from the rest of the American Association, especially from the three North Division squads staring up at them in the standings.
The Goldeyes, now 21-14 and still in first place but going through an ugly stretch that has seen them lose players to injury, to Mexico and to affiliated ball, have now dropped two straight and eight of their last 11.
"It's all that and the fact we lost our best hitter," said Goldeyes' manager Rick Forney. "(Yurendell) de Caster (who left this week for Tabasco in the Mexican League) was the best hitter in the league. And Amos Ramon (out for six to eight weeks) was starting to swing the bat pretty well for us, too. We're trying to move guys around and play different positions. We're playing guys that probably should have two or three days off, their legs are in such bad shape right now. Luis Allen is catching every day because Kyle Day (injured) can't stay on the field.
"It's one of those deals, we've got to get healthy."
That would sure help. The Goldeyes spoiled a solid outing Saturday night by starter Ace Walker, who went 7 2/3 innings and gave up just one earned run on six hits while whiffing seven. But the Fish kicked it around with two outs in the eighth, when an error by shortstop David Narodowski put Nic Jackson on first and, after he swiped second, scored on a single by Sergio Pedroza.
At the same time, RedHawks' starter Paul Burnside was spectacular as he improved to 4-3 with seven strong innings of three-hit ball.
"Their pitcher was fantastic," said Forney. "He knocked the bat out of our hands. Ace was fantastic for us, too. He gave us a real opportunity to win. But we couldn't even lift the ball on Burnside today. It was one of those games where offence was certainly hard to come by for both teams and we had a big error in the eighth inning that ended up costing us the ball game."
Narodowski did drive in the Goldeyes' only run in the second inning, but after Burnside exited the RedHawks' bullpen sealed the deal with two strong innings of work, with Tom Boleska picking up his second save in as many nights and 10th of the season.
"That's not exactly how you want it to end when you feel like you've pitched pretty well," said the Goldeyes' Walker. "These guys have been working their tails off and you've got to give it to their pitcher, too. I know we'll bounce back. I have all the confidence in our team.
"It's one of those things: When you look at our schedule of our 35 games, 23 have been on the road. We're all kinda just taking a deep breath. I think us being home the rest of this month and most of next month will really help us out. We'll start swinging it soon. Our guys are playing banged up and really toughing it out. Once guys get close to 100 per cent I think we'll be playing a little bit better baseball."
The finale to the series goes today at 1:30 p.m. at Shaw Park. Chris Zbin (0-0, 13.50 ERA) will make his first start against Aaron Shafer (1-4, 6.06).
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