The hits have come few and far between lately. The runs, even less.
The Lexington Legends are clearly slumping at the plate — and that might be an understatement.
”I didn't think we swung the bats well at all,“ Legends Manager Gregg Langbehn said after Thursday night's 4-2 loss to the Kannapolis Intimidators. ”We didn't make very good adjustments, had opportunities, but it's just the same old things. We're not producing — bottom line.“
Besides two runs on two hits and a walk in the seventh inning, Lexington was never much of an offensive threat Thursday. The Legends produced just six hits and narrowly escaped being shut out for the third time in four games.
With nine more innings of anemic hitting in the books, Lexington is nearing an offensive-less stretch of epic proportions. Dating back to their series opener with Lake County a week ago, the Legends have scored just three earned runs in 45 innings of play.
Langbehn said he isn't paying attention to the numbers, but is noticing a lack in one particular category: aggressiveness at the plate.
”I keep talking to the guys about being aggressive with fastballs, and swinging at fastballs and fastball counts, and we're not doing it,“ Langbehn said before Thursday's contest. ”We can't go up there and do it for them. They have to take the information and apply it. That's been the biggest thing. We had some opportunities but couldn't execute.“
The Legends haven't played well all season, but their current four-game slide has firmly buried them at the bottom of the South Atlantic League Northern Division. At a league-worst 15-37, Lexington is 18 games out of first place.
At this point in the year, the Legends are more concerned with improving than the games-behind column, a discouraged Langbehn said after the game.
”We're just trying to win,“ he said. ”We're well aware of where we're at. It's not much fun when every team is ahead of you and you're looking up from the bottom.“
The lone bright spot for the Legends has came from catcher Max Sapp. The Houston Astros' 2006 first-round draft pick was 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and a run scored.
Sapp, who was injured early in the season, came into Thursday night's game hitting .205 with one home run and 13 RBI.
”The past couple of games I've been hitting the ball hard, and tonight they started falling,“ Sapp said. ”I'm just now getting my at-bats in. I was out for a month, so I'm just now getting everything back to normal.“
Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the seventh, Lexington's Jonathan Fixler sliced an RBI-double down the right-field line for the Legends' first run of the game and Ronald Ramirez scored another on a fielder's choice.
But at the clip Lexington has been swinging the bats of late, the offense came too little and too late. Kannapolis closer and Morehead State product Henry Mabee pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save of the season.
Severino, Qualben called up
Legends pitchers Sergio Severino and David Qualben have been sent to Advanced-A Salem, Langbehn announced after Thursday's game. Severino was 3-3 with a 2.66 ERA and Qualben posted a 1.74 ERA.