It was suggested to Modesto manager Don Sneddon that Wednesday’s 9-7, 13-inning loss to Lake Elsinore might have been the worst of the 41 losses collected so far this season by the Nuts.
“You didn’t happen to see a lot of our early losses on the road, so I might have to correct you,” Sneddon said. “It happens, but it’s something that’s difficult to deal with when you’re trying to turn things around. It reminds the team where we are and that we still have a lot of work to do. It was difficult and we took a step back. You have to find a way to win games like that.”
For seven innings, it appeared as though the Nuts would be able to breeze to the victory. Modesto led 7-2 and had collected 12 hits through five innings, but the Storm bullpen stifled the Nuts on two singles the rest of the way.
“We did things well to start. Lake Elsinore has a good bullpen, so we knew we had to score early. When we are able to take a five-run lead into the eighth, we feel pretty good with our pen. It was tough to watch that unfold in front of us, but every inning that we didn’t score was to our disadvantage.”
The eighth inning was its own version of a slow death. Lake Elsinore had two outs and a runner at first when John Keck – finishing his second inning of relief – gave up a home run to Gabriel Quintana that caromed off the top of the scoreboard.
It was a prodigious blast, but it still only pulled the Storm within 7-4. Alving Mejias, who had allowed runs in only two of his previous nine outings, gave up doubles to each of the three hitters he faced, and when Rayan Gonzalez was greeted with an RBI single, the lead was gone.
Wait, it gets worse.
Modesto loaded the bases with one out in the 12th before Lake Elsinore’s Brandon Alger struck out Dean Espy and Kyle Von Tungeln to get out of the inning.
And then it got really bad.
Modesto’s Peter Tago walked the first two batters he faced in the 13th and one productive out later was forced to issue an intentional walk to load the bases. The Storm would score two runs in the inning without the benefit of a hit – using a hit batsman and a sacrifice fly to improve to 9-2 in extra inning games.
Modesto is 0-3 in games that go beyond nine – just a small slice of the miserable right-hand column in the standings.
“We hadn’t broken down completely like that in a while,” Sneddon said. “Then, having opportunities where all we needed to do to score was put the ball in play was a second disappointment because we could have picked up the pitching staff. The pitchers have been carrying us for a while, and here was a chance for the hitters to pick them up.”
Yes, 18 hours later, the misery of the loss still was present in Sneddon’s voice.
But the worst loss of the year? This outcome will have to get in line for that dubious honor.