By Steve Ruman
There was a time when Eastwood Field held a true home field advantage for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. For more than a decade, the Scrappers regularly posted winning records at home, even in seasons in which they otherwise struggled.
Lately, it has turned into a house of horrors.
In both 2012 and 2013, the Scrappers were only able to muster 15 home wins.
The Scrappers are experiencing similar results in 2014.
After losing to Batavia 2-1 on Saturday night in front of 2,823 fans, the Scrappers (8-14) fell to 3-8 at home. On the road, the Scrappers own a respectable 5-6 mark.
Saturday’s loss marked the fifth time this year the Scrappers’ offense was limited to just one run.
On Friday, the Scrappers lost to Batavia 3-1.
“I won’t say anything different, you won’t ask any different questions and you can just write what you wrote [Friday],” Kubiak joked to reporters afterward. “It was a carbon copy. I don’t know what to say.”
“Our pitching was good again, but we’re just not hitting. You can say the breaks are going against us, but that’s baseball.”
The Scrappers’ latest setback wasted a two-hit pitching performance by starter Cameron Hill and a pair of relievers. Hill worked four scoreless innings, giving up just one hit while recording four strikeouts. The righty lowered his ERA to 0.69.
Joey Zapata and Luis Gomez combined to work five innings, giving up two runs on one hit.
However, the Scrappers’ offense was limited to a Bradley Zimmer sacrifice fly in the third which scored their only run. The Scrappers collected just four hits on the night.
“When nobody is hitting, it can be easy for an offense to start pressing,” Kubiak said. “When we start losing, I try to look at things objectively. We’re putting out the effort. We had a great work day today.
“If you look, [Batavia] isn’t doing much either. It’s a tough game, and a lot of these guys are just learning the ins and outs of professional ball.”
Batavia scored its two runs in the sixth inning. After a pair of walks and a balk put runners at second and third, Brad Haynal blooped a single to right to score the tying and go-ahead runs.
HALL OF FAME NIGHT
Saturday marked the second annual Hall of Champions induction for the Scrappers. This year’s class included two members; Ted Kubiak and Jason Kipnis.
Kubiak was the Scrappers’ original manager during the team’s first season in Niles in 1999. Overall, he has managed the Scrappers for six seasons (99-00, 03, 12-14) with a 202-199 record. He has been with the Indians’ organization for 21 years.
Kubiak’s professional playing career included three World Series championships with the Oakland A’s.
“It’s an honor, it’s pretty neat and it’s nice that they did that,” Kubiak said. “I guess the Scrappers are kind of in my blood.”
Kipnis played for the Scrappers in 2009. He hit .306 with eight doubles, three triples, one home run and 19 RBI. He is currently the starting second baseman for the Indians and was an All-Star in 2013.