The last time Salt Lake pitcher Doug Linton started he last 1/3 of an inning and gave up five
runs. It was his first ever start for the Buzz, but it was hardly one Linton cut out the press clippings for. His ERA ballooned quicker than Oprah on a bad day, topping out at a whopping 135.14.That was back on June 19th.
Wednesday was Linton's second chance. It was an opportunity to prove to Roof he could become a regular in the rotation; that his earlier performance was the exception, rather than the rule.
Well, Linton better hope Roof believes in third chances because Wednesday night was not what he had in mind.
Salt Lake lost 11-9 to the Memphis Redbirds, as poor pitching once again played culprit. Linton lasted four innings, giving up four runs before being sent to the showers by an obviously disgusted Roof.
Four runs may not seem like a lot in the PCL, but Roof is a man running on a thin line of patience these days. The Buzz are 4-10 in their last 14 games, and can't seem to find a cure to the foul play.
"We need help," muttered a visibly shaken Roof afterwards. "We're at a low right now. I've never managed a team that has played this bad for so long. We're better than this. The guys are trying, I know that. I don't know what to do."
The problem has been purely with the pitching. In Salt Lake's last 14 games, the pitchers have allowed an average of nearly eight runs an outing.
"The starters aren't doing their jobs and neither is the bullpen," said Roof. "We're in a pitching funk right now. We're not making quality pitches."
When Linton left, Salt Lake had rallied back to knot the score at four apiece. In came Shane Bowers to try and sew up the problem.
He only created more holes. The Redbird bats thumped like a cheap transmission, rocking Bowers for five runs in his brief stint.
"We come back and tie the game and the bullpen can't hold on," said Roof. "Our hitting hasn't been the problem. We've scored runs. And I know we have out guys in the right defensive positions. It's been the pitching."
After taking a 6-5 lead after the fifth inning, the Redbirds put the game away by scoring four in the sixth, then adding an insurance run in the ninth. Pop Warner had the big hit in the sixth inning for Memphis, driving in a pair of runs with a 2-out double.
Salt Lake posted a mini-rally in the ninth as Chad Rupp and Corey Koskie each drove in runs, but it fell short and the Buzz found themselves below .500 with a 34-35 record.
"I'm holding on to the belief that we're better than this," said Roof. "I'm disappointed big time, but I'm not discouraged. For as bad as we've been, we're only one game below .500. We can turn this around, but it's up to the guys to do it."
BEE LINES: Salt Lake will finish its series with Memphis tonight at 7 before heading back out on the road...Lost in the disappointment was the huge night had by Rupp. The Salt Lake first baseman was 5-5 at the plate, driving in six runs...A crowd of 7,901 poured through the turnstiles for the 3 hour, 18 minute game.