Allen Lessels' On Baseball: No doubt about it, Fisher Cats still confident
MANCHESTER -- The New Hampshire Fisher Cats went looking for a second straight win at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium on Sunday.
The quest didn’t go all that well. Aaron Sanchez, Toronto’s top pitching prospect, got knocked around a bit in his first appearance in Manchester and the home team eventually lost, 6-0, to Binghamton.
Not to worry, said Fisher Cats manager Bobby Meacham. He liked what he saw from Sanchez that day and likes the way his team is coming along in the early going of a long season.
The Fisher Cats and New Britain Rick Cats were rained out on Tuesday night and close out their three-game set this morning at 10:35 in a “Manchester goes to a Game” event that will, weather permitting, play to a crowd of thousands of school kids.
The game closes out the first homestand of the season for Meacham’s group and, yes, the Fisher Cats are scuffling a bit and at the moment share last place in the Eastern Division with the Rock Cats with a 4-7 record.
The manager thinks things are looking up.
Meacham had been getting a little concerned about how his guys were approaching the game as New Hampshire’s losing streak stretched to six games with a pair of losses to Binghamton — 9-1 on Thursday night and 7-0 on Friday.
The Fisher Cats, he feared, were not being aggressive enough and he addressed the subject with the pitchers in particular before Saturday’s Game 3 of the homestand.
“I wanted to go out there and make sure they understood what I’m seeing,” Meacham said. “What gives a hitter an edge is when you’re doubting yourself and they can see you’re doubting yourself. What doesn’t give them an edge is when you’re struggling and you’re not backing off. I just wanted them to know that because they’re not hitters.”
The Fisher Cats went out that day and jumped on Binghamton early, thanks to a three-run, first-inning home run by Nashua’s Kevin Nolan. They finished with a season high in hits (15) and runs in a satisfying and streak-busting 9-4 win.
Starter Casey Lawrence allowed just five hits and a run while striking out four and walking none in his six innings.
Then came Sunday and a chance for two straight.
Sanchez allowed four hits and three runs and walked four and did not make it out of the fourth inning.
Meacham commended the pitcher as he took him out of the game, and again when he met with him on Monday.
“I told him that’s exactly what I was talking about,” the manager said. “I told him, ‘I’m proud of you because that’s the way it’s supposed to look.’” Righty Deck McGuire went out on Monday night and got the Fisher Cats their second win in three games and now owns two of the team’s four wins. On Monday, he went six innings and allowed three hits, struck out three and walked no one.
Sanchez’s approach helps the next guy up, Meacham said.
“Maybe he’s like, I didn’t throw my best game, but I’m not backing off,’” Meacham said. “And it kind of snowballs into everything we do.
We didn’t win that game but the next guy goes out there and he’s aggressive and he’s not afraid of what the results are going to be.”
Same with the hitters.
“We didn’t overwhelm them Monday night with runs scored and all that,” Meacham said. “But you could see guys coming back to the dugout a couple of days ago shaking their heads. But now it’s like, ‘I’m going to get them next time.’ I just think things like that develop over the course of a season, when you can learn from 11 tough games, so to speak, and realize it’s a long season.”