RailCats finding wins despite defensive 'blips'

2013-07-23T22:15:00Z 2013-07-23T23:37:05Z RailCats finding wins despite defensive 'blips'Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

GARY | The RailCats have finished at the top of the league defensively in the bulk of Greg Tagert's eight seasons as manager.

This season, the RailCats are in the bottom third of the American Association's fielding standings with 63 errors in 62 games heading into Tuesday's matchup against Sioux City.

"I don't think our standing statistically defensively is representative of the last 40 games," Tagert said. "I think what's happened is that we've had some nights where the defensive consistency isn't there."

The bulk of that can be credited early to a young infield. The RailCats started the season with rookies at shortstop, Zac Mitchell, and at second, Chase Tucker.

Mitchell, who was a second baseman in college, joins first baseman Christian Vitters and third baseman Brian Kolb as players out of their natural position. Danny Pulfer, who played 14 games at first base and 10 at third, is the only infielder playing where he grew up.

"I think some of those defensive standings statistically may be a little misleading in the way we've played the last 40 games or so and since we've established that infield," Tagert said. "If you see some of the error totals, Danny's came when he played first and third and his natural position is second."

Twice this season the RailCats have had stretches of four games without an error. Each time, those were followed by multi-error games.

Of their 36 games with an error, in 19 the RailCats have committed more than one error, with a season-high four three times.

"We've won some of those games with four errors," Tagert said. "When we made them, we made them in bunches some times, that's going to effect your numbers sometimes."

With consistency being the key, the RailCats are in the midst of a four-game homestand against a Sioux City team that sits atop the league standings with the fewest errors. 

The Explorers had committed 45 in 62 games before Tuesday. Conversely, Sioux City has the second-worst record in the league.

"In close ballgames, especially when you're a club that's not going to score runs in bunches ... at a time when you're scuffling a little bit offensively, that magnifies (errors) even more," Tagert said. "You can talk about good starting pitching, but your defense has to do it, too. That's where we talk about that consistency that's the biggest thing, in every category in baseball, we need to continue to improve on that. Every so often, every week or so we have a little blip."

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