It's not time to push the panic button just yet. But it was certainly a troubling night at Fraser Field as a pair of 8-4 losses to the New Jersey Jackals dropped the Spirit to 0-5 at home and 5-6 overall.
It was an all around team failure: the pitchers were getting hit hard, the offense could not come up with timely hits, the defense was abysmal, and the bullpen couldn't keep the Spirit in what became a close game 2.
Bryan Morse wasn't terrible in game 1, but he wasn't great, either- and the combination of his spottiness and absolute awful infield defense behind him led to a rough outing. The Jackals scored 5 in the first as Wilton Veras got an RBI single on a poor play by shortstop Gilbert Gil, Alex Frazier lined a 2RBI double to left, and Joe Mihalics picked up a 2RBI single to right to make it ugly, early.
The Jackals ultimately scored 7 off of Bryan Morse and the Spirit defense was charged with three errors, although in reality there should have been a minimum of six errors charged to the Spirit including three by Mike "Matador" Torres, who had an awful night at the hot corner.
Home runs by Darren Blakely and Carlos Rodriguez made the score respectable, but in the end the Spirit fell 8-4.
In game 2, Ryan Bicondoa made his return but fared no better than Morse -- he had poor control and still more poor defense behind him as he was torched for 4 runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Shawn McNamara came in and settled the game down, and the Spirit began to claw their way back. In the 3rd, Rob Fischer's RBI double to left scored Gil Gil and made it 4-1. BJ Weed then laced an RBI triple to right centerfield to make it 4-2, and Darren Blakely brought home the 3rd Spirit run on a sacrifice fly.
McNamara struck out the side in the top of the 4th and the Spirit picked up the tying run in the bottom half of the inning. Brad Rea led off with a single and wavs moved to 2nd on a sac bunt by Wally Rosa. Gil brought him home with an RBI double to tie the score.
The Jackals got the lead right back in the 5th, however, as Clyde Williams led off with a solo homer to right off of McNamara. In the 6th, the Jackals loaded the bases off of McNamara who was lifted in favor of Derek Drage. Drage couldn't come through, giving up a 2RBI single to Wilton Veras to make it 7-4.
New Jersey added another in the 7th off of Drage to make it 8-4, which would be the final score.
I'm not worried about Morse and Bic, they will ultimately be fine. But I AM concerned about the infield defense. It's putrid. Brad Rea is a statue at first -- he has to have Vic thinking about pulling out the fielder's glove. And Torres has been Jeff Brooks-esque at 3rd base. The makeshift middle infield of Gary Roche and Gil Gil were spotty but at times solid -- Perez was out with some sort of injury that wasn't announced (Thanks Spirit PR Staff!). I think they will really miss Cordova's presence in the infield. The lineup, not so much -- Gil seemsm good. But in the field... ouch.
Also troubling is the poor timely hitting. The Spirit put together a good inning in the 3rd inning of game 2, but in the first game, a few blasts were the only offense the Spirit could muster. It's concerning to say the least.
It's too early to give up the ship, but at this point it looks like we are not one of the elite teams in the league. Not yet, anyway.
Players of the Game:
Game 1: Carlos Rodriguez
Game 2: B.J. Weed
Awful PA Announcer (TM) Moment of the Night:
Shawn McNamara came in to pitch in the 4th inning. The PA announcer let us know this by saying: "Please welcome to the mound, Shawn McNamara."
Also, (I know, this is 2 moments, I cheated) "In other Can-Am action, Nashua beated Atlantic City..."
Oh, there were three: "Can he catch THREE in a row with the fishing net? He DOEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"--- I can't really accurately describe his hilariously bad voice tone here, but it reminded me a lot of this guy:
Basically, it was said in a tone more appropriate for like, the surrender of the Nazis.