On a positive note, it wasn't a sweep.
With the exception of one inning on Friday night, the York Revolution looked like the lesser ball club in a three-game series against the Bridgeport Bluefish. That's not a good thing, considering that York leads the Atlantic League's Freedom Division, while Bridgeport sits in the cellar of the Liberty Division.
Combine that with the fact that the Revs were hosting the Bluefish at PeoplesBank Park — a place where York has been virtually unbeatable — and you can't help but view the series loss as a disappointment.
"I think it's a squandered chance anytime we drop two out of three because I think we're the best team in the league," manager Mark Mason said. "I just think we're doing some things that are not good right now and we're kind of in a funk trying to get runners in with less than two outs."
The disappointment in Mason's voice was apparent following Sunday's 9-3 loss to Bridgeport. Leaving men on base, especially in scoring position, was a huge factor in the Revs' setback.
York (31-25) left a total of 12 men on base and more than half were left in scoring position. Even after the team fell behind 4-0 before even coming to the plate, it gave itself a chance to win. The Revs responded with three runs in the bottom half of the first to make it 4-3 and looked poised to have a big day at the plate. Yet, the Revs left the bases loaded in the next inning and then on two other occasions, stranded two runners on the base paths to end innings.
York had every opportunity to not only erase the early 4-0 hole, but even take a lead. Every missed opportunity was added momentum for a Bluefish (24-32) side that is just looking to play spoiler.
"It's having not the greatest approaches at the plate, and I think with two strikes, not changing our approach and just trying to put the ball in play," Mason said about the team's funk in driving men home. "The swings are still too big with two strikes and I think we're swinging at too many bad pitches with two strikes and letting too many good pitches go with two strikes."
Had it not been for a six-run bottom of the seventh inning in Friday's opening game of the series that propelled the Revs to a 6-4 win, this could've been a disastrous weekend sweep for a club scratching to clinch a first-half division title and earn a playoff berth. Mason realizes that.
So far this season, York's been a team that's played like it deserves to be in first place. It never gives in during games, no matter how big a deficit it faces. On a number of instances this year, the Revs have rallied for big innings to come back and win games that, in past years, they had no shot of winning.
Right now, however, they're in a slide that they can't seem to escape — one they have to hope doesn't ruin their thus-far strong first half.
Sunday, the same big innings that have become a staple for York this season ultimately cost it the game. Twice Bridgeport scored four runs in an inning. A foul pop up that was lost in the sun by third baseman Joel Guzman would've ended the first inning with York down just 1-0. Instead, York trailed 4-0 after the first half inning. That could've been the difference. York's three-run bottom of the first would've given the Revs a 3-1 edge after one if the pop up had been caught. Who knows how things would've played out from there. Perhaps York wouldn't have pressed as much and been more relaxed at the plate?
Regardless, it wasn't just on the field that the Revs hurt themselves, but also in the standings. This was a prime chance for them to distance themselves from the Lancaster Barnstormers and Sugar Land Skeeters in the division race. Yet it passed them by. With Sugar Land winning on Sunday, York's lead in the division is at two games.
With 14 games left in the first half, it's hard to determine just how important this series will be in determining the Revs' playoff fate.
But, if they can't snap out of their current funk soon, and they end up blowing the first-half division title and the guaranteed playoff spot that comes with it, then we might look back on this weekend as a pivotal series that cost them dearly.
"Right now we're scuffling a little bit," Mason said. "We're lucky we didn't get swept this series. We have to get better for sure."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org