Two good innings of hitting weren’t enough to offset seven innings of bad as the Potomac Nationals saw their five-game win streak snapped with a 5-4 loss to the Lynchburg Hillcats.
Perhaps it was the hangover effect from facing a knuckleballer the night before. Journeyman Aaron Shafer simply wasn’t as good as his numbers might indicate, limiting the P-Nats to just four hits over the first seven innings. There seemed to be an unusual number of popups (5), particularly against a pitcher that wasn’t throwing especially hard.
The too-little, too-late effort made a loser out of Paul Demny, who pitched well enough to win: two runs on six hits (though one was home run #15 surrendered) and two walks against four strikeouts over six innings. On most nights, that would have been good enough to win.
Mitchell Clegg came on in the 7th and continues to be a decent pitcher on the road (3.58 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) and dreadful at home (7.94, 2.29). This despite showing an improved breaking pitch. He would go two innings, but one mistake (a three-run double) after a single, walk, and sacrifice-turned-hit loaded the bases and a near escape (strikeout, flyout to shallow center) would keep the trend going.
Curiously, the seventh also saw manager Matt LeCroy pull Destin Hood during the warmups and replace him with Cutter Dykstra, ostensibly a punishment for not running out the last out of the sixth, a high fly to left field. The last time such a thing happened (Eury Perez, July 1), the offender was benched for three games. Something to consider if Hood is out of the lineup tonight.
Potomac would rally for two runs in both the bottom of the 8th and 9th innings, pounding out five hits and drawing two walks but the five-run cushion built by Lynchburg would hold for the 5-4 win.
With the loss, Potomac drops into a first-place tie with Frederick at 14-9. Cameron Selik (2-6, 4.42) takes to the hill tonight, opposed by Lynchburg’s Chris Masters (5-4, 3.48).