GARY — The RailCats worked their way into the wild card lead in the American Association on the back of winning eight of nine series.
In a nine-game homestand that started July 14, the RailCats opened with a 5-0 record. Then they closed losing the last four, including a sweep by Central Division No. 4 Sioux City with Sunday's 3-1 loss.
Manager Greg Tagert attributes the loss to his team's lack of offense, in part their lack of patience at the plate that has defined Tagert's teams in the past.
The 'Cats were outhit 13-6 on Sunday after being outhit 16-2 on Friday and 16-14 on Thursday against Cleburne. In a 12-inning game on Saturday, both teams had 12 hits.
"From an offensive standpoint it has become way past the concerning point about playing here," Tagert said after Sunday's loss. "You saw it today with the number of fly balls, the number of strikeouts, the lack of pitch-taking, even in that ninth inning Cam Newell takes one pitch and swings at the next one when we're trying to get base runners."
The RailCats added pitching before the game to help a beleaguered bullpen, picking up Jesse Pratt, and in a separate move traded infielder John Holland, who was hitting .271, to Schaumburg of the Frontier League for a player to be named later.
"I'm trying to accept it, but we made a move today for various reasons that we wanted to, we had to do something about the log jam in the position player area and we needed a pitcher, but basically a move to make this club — and I can't think of any time I've done this in the past — to put this club on notice that there's a certain way we're going to go about things," Tagert said. "I don't want to give any indication, Johnny has played very well this season and turned himself into a good offensive player, but it gives Andy De Jesus some time and we like the young Cole Fabio. I don't think John, as good as he's done for us, that he's who we're looking for down the stretch."
The RailCats had 10 fly balls to the outfield for outs on Sunday and left seven on base.
"We need to play the game the right way and good things start to happen," veteran Frank Martinez said.
Tagert said that more moves could be upcoming if the offense doesn't show the improvement he's hoping for. The 'Cats are 18-15 at home and play another four games at U.S. Steel Yard before taking to the road next weekend.
"It's on this club, they're going to have to go about making the adjustments if they want to win," Tagert said. "We'll start with it with new people if we need to. I think at some point it's like asking somebody you're going to marry to change their personality for you; this is who some of our players are. This isn't a mental refusal, it isn't objectionable, but maybe it's an inability."
Sioux City took a 1-0 lead Sunday, which was tied in the fourth inning as Reggie Wilson scored on a wild pitch. Pratt took the loss, coming in relief and allowing a run in his one inning.
"It will be good for us to go back with fresh minds," Martinez said.
"To not get a win in this series is about as discouraging and definitely the low point of the season," Tagert said. "To hear 'we could use this two-day break,' a couple days ago when we were winning five straight no one wanted the break.