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Lugnuts look for big turnaround tonight

April 20, 2001
Lansing Lugnuts infielder Blair Barbier gets tagged out by Dayton Dragons shortstop Wandel Campana during their game Wednesday at Oldsmobile Park in Lansing.

LANSING - The first few weeks of the season have not been kind to Julio Garcia.

The Lansing Lugnuts’ manager has watched his team suffer through plagues of errors and impotent hitting and win only three of its first 12 games.

Tonight, the Lugnuts will close their four-game series with the Dayton Dragons at Oldsmobile Park, still searching for some consistent play. Game time is 6:05 p.m.

Tonight’s scheduled pitching matchup will feature Wilton Chavez (1-1) for the Lugnuts and Ryan Snare (1-1) for Dayton.

“At this point, we just need to learn how to win a little bit more,” Garcia said. “It’s a simple formula, but it’s a little harder to do. Sometimes when you try to do well, you put a little too much into it and it backfires on you.

“We just want to tell the kids to relax and whatever happens, happens.”

The Lugnuts entered Thursday night’s game against the Dragons with a three-game losing streak and a 3-9 record after dropping the first two games of the series by a combined score of 15-5.

Even worse was how they lost.

The Dragons claimed a 5-1 victory in the series opener Tuesday despite producing only one earned run. The Lugnuts’ sloppy fielding wasted a solid effort from starting pitcher Todd Wellemeyer, who fell to 0-3 on the season.

Wednesday’s 10-4 Lugnut loss was punctuated by three more Lansing errors, but Garcia said the team is showing signs of improvement.

“We just got behind and it’s tough to make up any ground,” Garcia said. “It’s real easy to point out the negatives, but those are the things we need to build on. Our ERA needs to come down to earth a little bit and, obviously, our batting average has to go up.

“But I think the guys will turn it around sooner than later.”

Aaron Krawiec (0-2) took the loss on the mound for Lansing on Wednesday, giving up 11 hits and five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Again, the Lugnuts showed their penchant for allowing one destructive inning to ruin their game, as Dayton posted a five-run sixth inning. After an RBI single by Mike Calitri, a single by Brad Hargreaves chased Krawiec from the game.

Dayton right fielder B.J. Hawes smacked an RBI double off reliever Jose Cueto and then a throwing error by second baseman Blake Blasi allowed two more Dragons to score.

“You try to avoid giving the other club extra outs,” Garcia said. “We try to get them to throw it to the right base - the routine things. But sometimes when you’re out on the field, it’s harder to do than when we talk about it.”

And the Lugnuts’ offense isn’t making up for the team’s defensive shortcomings either.

Lansing produced only six hits Wednesday and, with the exception of designated hitter Jason Dubois’ eighth-inning home run, rarely hit the ball hard.

But Dubois said the problem is simple and can be fixed.

“Guys are pressing at the plate a little bit right now and putting pressure on themselves,” said Dubois, whose two-run shot to left-center was his second of the season. “We just have to be positive, get up there and have a little fun.

“It’s going to come in time.”

The Lugnuts will try to unwind during their road trip to Battle Creek this weekend. They will face the Michigan Battle Cats at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Their next home series is a two-game set with South Bend on April 29 and 30 at Oldsmobile Park.

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