When the York Revolution players slowly walked off the Ballpark at Harbor Yard field on July 5 after a 3-2 defeat to the Bridgeport Bluefish, it marked the end of a dismal 24-46 first half.
However, when the players filed back into their home clubhouse at Santander Stadium on July 10 to take on the Lancaster Barnstormers, they did so as a team that was no longer 18 games under .500, but rather, a team that sat at 0-0. They were back to square one and on even terms with the other seven teams in the Atlantic League.
With each Atlantic League season being broken into two, 70-game halves, the records are wiped clean at the All-Star break. Bad first halves can be forgotten and give new hope to those teams. York was one of those. In fact, it was the worst team in the first half, finishing with the worst winning percentage (.343) in the league and a full 18 games back of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the Freedom Division.
That's in the past. Now, the Revs have a chance to reinvest themselves in the second half and make a push to contend for the second-half division title, which would earn them a trip back to the playoffs for the second straight year.
"Obviously the first half didn't go the way we wanted it to," infielder Eric Patterson said. "But, that's the good thing about this league, everything kind of resets in the second half."
Fixing problems: Records may reset, but it's not quite that simple for a York team that had all kinds of problems in the first half.
When the Revs hit the ball, the pitching would falter. When the pitching shined, the offense went dormant. And the defense was sloppy throughout the first 70 games. Rarely, did all facets click for York. Any combination of cleaning up on those three things — hitting, pitching and defense — would help the Revs improve their first-half record, but Manager Mark Mason thinks it'll take much more than that.
"I can pin point more than one or two things," he said. "I think, first off, we have to do a better job with runners on base. I think we left the most runners on base, or close to the most runners on base, in the league, so that's one area we have to do better."
Mason went on to say that the pitching staff needs to do better at getting hitters out when they're ahead in the counts and the team must field the ball much better. He also noted that much of that hinges on consistency, which York has had little of this season.
Constant change: When it comes to the Revs' lineup and roster, changes have been abundant, while consistency has not. York's been plagued by the injury bug to a number of players on the team, including some of last year's playoff team's most valuable performers.
Just before the All-Star break, Patterson returned from a leg injury that kept him out for nearly two weeks, while starting pitcher Anthony Lerew is sidelined for the rest of the year with a broken leg. Reliever Edward Paredes had two stints on the inactive list with injuries and Mikey Reynolds just returned a week ago after recovering from a hand injury.
"We have to stay healthy," Mason said. "We haven't been able to do that. We've had an unbelievable amount of turnover. I think now I'm at 80 transactions. ...There's been a lot of stuff going on as far as personnel and roster moves and that makes it difficult because it's hard to get settled in with the same lineup on a nightly basis, where guys are comfortable where they play in the field and where they hit in the lineup."
That transaction list only grew longer for York on Wednesday when the team completed eight more transactions. Two of those moves dealt with valuable members of the team's pitching staff, with starter Logan Williamson and closer Josh Judy going on the inactive list, one night after both had rough outings in Tuesday night's 9-6 loss to Sugar Land.
Even though it might be a fresh start to the season, the second half hardly has a new tone to it thus far. After winning its opener to begin the second half, York lost four straight games before finally snapping the skid on Wednesday with an 8-7 walk-off win over the Skeeters.
Too early to panic: Despite the slow start, and with possible bad thoughts already creeping into the players' minds, it's too early for the Revs to panic just yet. All the team needs to do is start playing good baseball and, according to Patterson, that begins with one thing.
"It's just about winning games," he said. "It doesn't really matter whether it's the beginning of the season or the middle of the season, you have to take the same approach each and every day and just to come out and play the game for that day and you try to win the game that day. Hopefully, you try to put some things together, get a couple wins together and put yourself in position to make the playoffs."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.