For 11 consecutive hot, dry July days the Salt Lake Bees hosted games at Franklin Covey Field. Now it's time for a rare break for the players and coaches.
The Bees completed a homestand that started poorly, went well in the middle and ended like it started. Salt Lake was beaten by the Sacramento River Cats Monday night, 4-1. It was the Bees' third straight loss, dropping them to 58-39 on the season. That's still good enough to give them a 7.5-game lead over second place Portland in the PCL's Pacific Northern Division heading into the three-day All-Star break, however.
Bees manager Bobby Mitchell acknowledged that having some time off will be good for his club.
"Everybody is pretty burned out," said Mitchell. "We've played more than half the season, and we've been playing day-in and day-out."
Salt Lake started the long homestand with three consecutive losses to the Tucson Sidewinders. They then swept a four-game series against the Tacoma Rainiers and won the opener against Sacramento for five straight wins before dropping the last three. Overall, the 5-6 record ended up being a disappointment.
"We finished bad," said Mitchell of the homestand. "If we win (Monday's) game then it is a whole different story. But this loss kind of ruined the whole homestand for us."
Bees starter Shane Loux pitched well in his first appearance since being activated off the disabled list. Loux, who missed a start due to inflammation in his left hip, surrendered a first-inning solo homer to Sacramento's Wes Bankston, but that was the only earned run he would surrender in seven innings. He left the game trailing, however, as the River Cats scored an unearned run in the fourth inning due to a fielding error by Bees left fielder Dee Brown.
"It was a great pitching performance by Shane that we wasted," said Mitchell.
The River Cats, leading 2-1, scored a couple of insurance runs in the top of the ninth on a two-run homer by catcher Landon Powell off Bees reliever Henry Bonilla.
Salt Lake had many scoring opportunities fall by the wayside, as they stranded 11 base runners on the night.
"We had our opportunities," said Mitchell. "We didn't lose the game at the end; we lost it at the beginning. ... We just couldn't get a hit with men on base; that's all there is to it."
Mitchell was specifically talking about two innings where the Bees had multiple base runners aboard with with just one out and couldn't score.
The Bees will bet back to action on Friday in Fresno against the Grizzlies. The two teams will play five times in four days, including a doubleheader on Saturday.
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