The Hagerstown Suns have been turned into bad gremlins.
Night is good but bright light is bad.
The Suns have been worn down by day games, of all things, and it is all completely out of their control.
The heavy storm that rolled through Hagerstown on July 22 blew over one of the eight light standards at Municipal Stadium. After it was determined the remaining units didn't provide enough lighting for a professional baseball game, Hagerstown rescheduled two of the final four games on the last homestand for afternoon starts.
The entire series with Greenville was played in daylight, which baked the Suns.
“If this had happened in April or May, it might not have been that bad,” said Suns manger Brian Daubach. “There wouldn't have been much heat and the guys would be fresher. But now, late in the year, the guys are dragging.”
You wouldn't think the time change would cause so much hardship, but the addition of the recent heat wave made it all oppressive. Hagerstown, like all low Single-A teams, has been trying to find a second wind for the closing stages on the season. It is normal for many players on this level to hit “the wall,” a level of tiredness that comes with playing more games than they ever have before.
Most college and amateur players rarely play more than 70 games in a season. The affiliated minor league season is 140 games in a five-month span with only a minimal amount of off days. Add the extra heat and the recovery level wanes.
But on top of it, the earlier start times take away from the real reason why players are on this level — the practice to improve.
“We haven't been able to get the same work,” Daubach said. “We haven't been able to work on our drills and in batting practice because we are short on time now with the day games.”
The Suns were fortunate to be able to play at all after the storm. The game was called on July 22 after the storm because the fallen light standard damaged the beer garden structure, took out a length of fence and tore up some of the turf in left field. The city provided workers and the Suns grounds crew came out the next day and got the field in playing shape overnight to keep the Suns on the field.
The light will be replaced while the Suns are on their current road trip and the remaining units will be inspected for safety.
“We have to give the city a lot of credit to get us back on the field as quickly as they did by fixing the fence and the turf,” Daubach said. “It was unfortunate that it happened. We can't use it as an excuse. Both teams had to put up with it.”
Bye, bye Chris
In case you didn't hear, the Washington Nationals sent Hagerstown closer Chris Manno and former Suns first baseman Bill Rhinehart to Cincinnati for outfielder Johnny Gomes on Tuesday.
Manno, a South Atlantic League All-Star, was 1-3 with a 1.04 ERA and 12 saves in 34 appearances with the Suns. He had 69 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings.
Bryce Harper's stats after his first 21 games with Harrisburg: 16-for-73 (.219), 3 doubles, 1 home run, 4 RBIs, 7 walks, 16 strikeouts, 3-for-3 stolen bases.
Harper's stats after his first 21 games with Hagerstown: 23-for-69 (.333), 6 doubles, 6 home runs, 19 RBIs, 12 walks, 20 strikeouts, 4-for-6 stolen bases.
Harper's overall stats through 93 games: 98-for-331 (.296), 20 doubles, 1 triple, 15 home runs, 50 RBIs, 51 walks, 77 strikeouts, 22-for-27 stolen bases.