GARY | The heavy-handed sound board operator at U.S. Steel Yard is prone to fits of repetition with the noises, music clips and well-known movie quotes.
The most timely and appropriate quote from the now-10-year-old film Old School would be Will Ferrell’s shout of “We’re going streaking!”
Its use in the movie didn’t have much to do with winning streaks, but while we’re making with the entendre, it certainly fits as the hometown RailCats (23-15) amassed an eight-game streak of victories includin'g Thursday’s rain-delayed 4-3 series finale win over the Kansas City T-Bones.
The team’s longest winning streak was in July 2011 and lasted nine games.
Although a pitcher in the seventh inning of a perfect game is ignored in strict adherence to superstition, there are no set protocols for the seventh game of a win streak.
“It’s not so much about a superstition; it’s more of an expectation to win,” RailCats outfielder Adam Klein said. “The teams that win are the ones that expect to win, and the teams that lose are the ones that expect to lose because they’re so accustomed to it.
“We’ve been going out these last few nights expecting to win, because that’s all we really know at this point.”
Klein said the team gained energy on its road trip that started two weeks ago. After heading on the road at 12-12 but taking four of seven at the homes of perennial powers Fargo-Moorhead and Wichita, the RailCats have so far won all of the games at U.S. Steel Yard in a franchise-long 11-game home stand. Defending league champion Winnipeg visits this weekend.
Three of those wins occurred in the RailCats’ last at-bat, a comeback trend that started with the first game of the season and has yet to fully dissipate.
“There’s this understanding that we might not be as good as a lot of the teams that we’re playing, but I think we’re hungrier than a lot of teams, and that really shows how we’ve won so many games at the end of the game,” said Klein, who leads the American Association in walks and scored the first run of Thursday’s game after he singled.
The presence of clubhouse stalwarts Klein, Mike Massaro, Cristian Guerrero and several others creates a calming presence through the highs and the lows.
“It’s about the way you handle not only the adversity but the winning,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. “After a tough loss I want our guys to feel it, but after a win you enjoy it and move on to the next day. That’s what having that leadership will do for you.”
Tagert’s main concern during the streak has been keeping his pitchers fresh because intense innings can be draining. Several relievers that were used frequently during last weekend’s sweep of St. Paul are unavailable for at least another day or two. The rotation has fluctuated with injuries and assorted changes.
Morgan Coombs gave the entire bullpen a night off Wednesday with a complete-game shutout of the T-Bones.
Craig Maddox hit his third home run of the year, and the catcher/designated hitter/first baseman has a six-game hit streak with four consecutive multi-hit games.
“You’ve got to just enjoy it for minute and then start preparing for the next day,” said Maddox, who is 10-for-17 in his last four games. “Every day in this game is different. You’ve got to keep preparing for the next day, and at the end of the year hopefully you look back and everything kind of came together.
“That’s the mentality, and that’s what’s going to win you a championship — maintaining competitiveness.”