By Steve ruman
First, a bit of good news.
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Saturday briefly had a lead against Vermont.
In the bottom of the second inning, third baseman Robel Garcia belted a two-run homer into the right field bullpen, putting the Scrappers ahead of the Lake Monsters, 2-1. It marked the first time in 34 innings the Scrappers held a lead.
Perhaps the best news of all for the 3,162 fans in attendance was the fact that a promotion gave each paying customer a free ticket to today’s game.
The bad news?
The promotion in question was known as “Guaranteed Win Night.”
Yep, the free tickets divvied out to customers were the result of another Scrappers loss. This time, it was a 6-3 setback to the Lake Monsters, extending the Scrappers’ losing streak to 11 games.
The 11 consecutive losses is a new franchise high, breaking the old mark of 10 set in 2001.
“What can I say? It’s not been fun,” Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak said of the losing streak. “I know they’re trying. I know they’re working hard every day in practice and during games. Maybe the only thing wrong is that they are not taking (the losing steak) to heart.”
The Scrappers’ one-run lead lasted for three innings. In the fifth, the Lake Monsters scored three runs thanks to a two-run home run by Boog Powell, and a solo shot off the bat of Ryan Huck.
The Lake Monsters added a pair of runs in an eighth inning which featured a pair of hits, a pair of walks, a wild pitch, a stolen base and an error which plated a run.
Mahoning Valley scored its third run in the sixth on a Brian Ruiz RBI single. On the night, the Scrappers banged out 10 hits, but stranded nine runners.
“That’s been the story all year,” Kubiak said. “We’re getting hits, we’re just not stringing them together and we’re not getting that one key hit with runners on base.”
Though upbeat about the general mood of the club, Kubiak was upset about the play of second baseman Claudio Bautista, who was benched in the second inning. In the bottom of the first, Bautista popped up to first, but never left the batter’s box on the play.
“I’m more (upset) about that than anything,” Kubiak said. “Plays like that, they’re uncalled for. You can’t just stand there and not leave the box. There is no excuse for that.”
While the Scrappers have established a new franchise record for consecutive losses, they are far from breaking a minor league record for futility.
The longest losing streak in minor league history belongs to the Austin Senators. In 1914, the Senators lost 32 straight. At the time, the franchise was a member of the Class B Texas League — a league equivalent to modern-day Class A ball.
The Senators finished the season with a 31-114 record,and an astounding 67 Ω games behind first place Houston.
The franchise folded following the 1914 season, and Austin did not have a professional team again until 1947.
More recently, the Nashua Pride of the Atlantic League lost 21 straight in 2002.
In 2009, the Coastal Kingfish (Continental League) dropped 26 games in a row.
The Scrappers’ 10-game losing streak in 2001 also occurred in mid-July. The Scrappers went on to finish with a 26-49 record.
The Scrappers and Lake Monsters play the second game of a three-game series at 5:05 p.m. today.