Dayton Loses Blowout

After a couple of lean years at Dayton the Dragons have started strong in 2014 and still hold onto the top spot in their division despite losing a blowout Thursday night. A trio of returning pitchers is showing signs of mastering the level and their team ERA is one of the lowest ones in the league.

Dayton took one on the chin Thursday night in a 13-1 loss to visiting Kane County. Amir Garrett got the start but didn't make it out of the second inning, allowing five runs on eight hits. It was all Cougars after that as they put up another four in the third and never looked back. No Dragon pitcher went unscathed until Alejandro Chacin who allowed only one unearned run over the last two frames. Their offense didn't fare any better when they were limited to two hits. One of them was a triple by Sebastian Elizalde who scored his team's only run on a groundout by the next hitter, Phil Ervin.

The loss snapped a seven game win streak by Dayton who is off to a nice start this season at 9-4. Fans at Fifth Third Field have been through a couple of lean years coming into this season but right now their team is atop the Midwest League Eastern Division. The setback Thursday was a sharp contrast for a team that has been relying heavily on pitching and came into the contest leading the league with a team ERA under two.

Three returnees to the Dragons from last season in the rotation have been leading the way. After a tough 2013 season Ismael Guillen appears to be back on track with a sub-two ERA after three starts. Right there with him is Sal Romano who's sitting on a flat two. 2012 first-round selection Nick Travieso has only two starts thus far and he's been effective, allowing three runs in eleven innings. Garrett was below four before getting beat up last night.

It's still early in the season and Dayton has enjoyed five relievers who are still maintaining zero ERA's. Chacin, Zach Weiss, Layne Somsen, Daniel Mitchell, Evan Mitchell, and Daniel Wright have combined for 23 appearances and 36 innings without allowing a single earned run. Right behind them are Scott Brattvet and Junior Morillo who've both tossed over five innings with one earned run each.

The offense had been around the middle of the pack until the two-hitter knocked their team average down to .236 which is the third lowest in the league. Mexican League veteran Elizalde is putting up numbers that will gain attention. Previously he'd hit well for Monterrey and now the 22 year-old outfielder is maintaining in single A, hitting .325 AVG/.451 OB/.600 SLG with a couple of homers. Beau Ameral is also over .300 and been successful in all eight of his stolen base attempts. 20 year-old Carlton Daal is a bit young for the level, but he's held his own thus far hitting .293 AVG/.370 OB. Tanner Rahier, Daniel Mateo, and Joe Hudson are all hitting in the mid-200's with the latter two getting on base slightly under a .400 clip.

After two losing seasons there's good reason to believe the Dragons will be more competitive in 2014. Last year's first round selection Phil Ervin is still hitting below .200 and it's a pretty safe bet that he'll raise that by the end of the year. There could be some promotions in the cards but the Dragons should make a strong push for a division title for the first half-season.

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