The Dayton Dragons leave Wednesday on their last road trip of the year. Given Tuesday’s result, they can use some time away from the usually cozy confines of Fifth Third Field.
The Dragons lost to West Michigan 6-3, a result friendlier than the way the game played out. Dayton had only two hits off of doubles from Sammy Diaz going into the ninth inning when catcher Brandon Dailey drove in two with a two-out single. The result was West Michigan taking three out of four games in the series.
Dayton’s offense had guided the team to playoff contention in the second half — the Dragons are still a game and a half behind for a postseason berth after Great Lakes lost to Fort Wayne. But that offense has taken two big blows in recent weeks. First was Phillip Ervin, the Cincinnati Reds’ 2013 first-round pick, who was hitting .349 before straining a wrist. He sat out a week, then was on the disabled list for a week, but suffered a setback in rehab. Reds team doctors are now re-examining his MRI in case the injury was more significant.
On Saturday, the team’s best hitter throughout the season — Reds 2012 supplemental first rounder Jesse Winker — suffered a bone bruise fielding a pop fly near the warning track. He’s on the disabled list. Both Ervin and Winker are doubtful to return this season, even if the Dragons make the playoffs.
Even without the two outfielders in the middle of the lineup, Dayton manager Jose Nieves isn’t prepared to let the team use it as an excuse, especially after the Dragons combined for 13 strikeouts Tuesday.
“Those guys need to be a complement to our lineup, not the lineup itself,” Nieves said. “We can’t rely on one or two guys for all of our collective output. It’s good to have that kind of support, but the whole needs to be making the difference.”
Starter Nick Travieso had four solid outings prior to Tuesday, but got rocked for six runs and nine hits in four innings. He struck out one, walked one, and saw his season ERA go to 5.22. Relievers Tony Amezcua and Jesus Adames pitched the last five innings, combining to allow three hits and no walks.
“You just have to move on,” Nieves said. “We didn’t produce and that was the bottom line.”
Dayton goes on the road for nine games for its final road trip of the season, the last three at second place Great Lakes. The good news — starter Drew Cisco will pitch in the series after being lifted early Saturday because of back spasms. The Dragons return home Aug. 31 to finish the season with three against South Bend.
Dragons at Lake County, 7