Buzz manager Phil Roof wanted to play Thursday night. Even though the rain was coming down hard at game time and the tarp was still covering the field. His team was on a seven-game win streak, the longest in Buzz history, and it had just come off the first series sweep of the year against Edmonton.
"We wanted to keep the streak going. . . . We knew the rain would clear," he said.It did clear, but maybe the Buzz should have called it while they had a chance. They went on to lose to the Las Vegas Stars 8-3.
At about 8:40, with all the fans soaked from an hour-and-a-half delay, they were ready for a ball game. And it looked like the Buzz were as well when first baseman Scott Stahoviak came out and hit a single shot to give the Buzz an early 1-0 lead. It didn't last long, however. Stars' third baseman George Arias knocked one of his two homers out in the beginning of the second, tying it up.
That's when the Buzz went cold. Maybe it was the weather, but more likely it was the Stars' new pitching sensation Matt Clement, who is 5-5 with a club-low 3.08 ERA. The game became a strikeout fest, with Clement striking out 13 of 15 Buzz batters, breaking the season-high total at Memphis May 26. Six Buzz batters struck out at least twice against the strong right hander.
"The pitching was impressive; we couldn't get comfortable at the plate," said Roof.
The Stars were comfortable. Chris Prieto grabbed a single to begin a little two-out rally in the fifth, which resulted in two runs scoring, and left fielder Dusty Allen hitting a solo homer in the sixth.
But the real scoring barrage didn't begin until Doug Linton came into the game, relieving Frank Rodriguez in the seventh. "He had been off for seven days, and his rhythm was off," Roof said of Linton. He walked two Stars before giving up a three-run homer to Arias and solo homer to the ninth batter, catcher Creighton Gubanich, leaving the Buzz in an 8-1 hole.
Stahoviak and Chad Rupp were the only offense the Buzz could find. After a Stahoviak walk in the seventh, Rupp hit a double off the wall, scoring him. Then Corey Koskie hit a single to score Rupp and leave the Buzz down five going into the eighth.
There were 28 total strikeouts between the teams, one short of a PCL record that was set by Hawaii and Spokane back in '74.
"Let's start another streak tomorrow," said Roof. "We'll come back and win this series tomorrow night."