Thursday, December 2, 2021

After record start to season, Lugs beginning to slide

April 26, 2002
Lugnuts outfielder Buck Coats hits an RBI single during a game against West Michigan at Oldsmobile Park on April 10. Lansing is third in the Eastern Division of the Midwest League. —

In the midst of a 12-game road trip, the Lansing Lugnuts have had a wild ride thus far.

Lansing (9-10) is 0-2 to start the trip, with two games remaining with the Michigan Battle Cats, four games with the Dayton Dragons and four with the West Michigan Whitecaps.

The optimism that was created with a franchise-best 5-2 start is now gone.

In the first game of the road trip, the Lugnuts pitched well enough to win, but the bats never showed up. Lansing starter Sergio Mitre (1-2) picked up the loss after six innings, but he allowed the only run of the ballgame.

The team managed just three hits and left four on base in the shutout.

In game two, center fielder Mike Mallory’s home run tied the game at two-all in the sixth inning. But the Battle Cats scored two more runs with one hit, a pair of walks and a hit batsman.

Pitcher B.J. Benik picked up the loss, after starter Felix Sanchez had a strong outing.

The Lugnuts will wrap up the series with the Battle Cats tonight at 6:30 p.m. at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek.

All the success the Lugnuts have had so far this season, has been countered by some glaring statistics.

The team’s earned run average is a gaudy 2.91, but their batting average is only .230. Right fielder J.J. Johnson and left fielder Hector Miliano are the only two everyday players who are batting over .300.

The Lugnuts also have had trouble getting production out of the top of the order. Lead-off hitter, second baseman Ryan Theriot, is hitting only .170 with a decent .343 on-base percentage.

Bright spots for the Lugnuts include Johnson, who is hitting .300 with 15 RBIs in 19 games. Starting pitchers Angel Guzman and Carmen Pignatiello also have provided solid performances in their first few outings.

Guzman (1-2) has a 1.67 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 27 innings of work. Pignatiello (2-0) has a 0.53 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 17 innings.

The Lugnuts will travel to Dayton for a four-game series starting Saturday, and then to Comstock Park to take on the West Michigan Whitecaps in a four-game series starting next Thursday.

The Lugnuts return home May 6 for a four-game series against the Battle Cats.

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