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Road awfully bumpy for ThunderBolts

Updated: August 15, 2014 6:24AM



Despite entering Sunday’s final game before the All-Star break with a 17-32 record and in last place in the Frontier League West Division, the Windy City ThunderBolts haven’t played too poorly at home.

They’ll enter the break with a 13-14 record at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood. It’s the road where the team has struggled mightily.

“It’s always easier to play at home, but we have to have some consistency when we go on the road, too,” T-Bolts second baseman Ryan Soares said. “We just need to go out and play solid baseball out there.”

When Windy City began a 12-game road trip July 4 at Traverse City, its road record was 3-11. Things haven’t gotten any better as the T-Bolts lost seven of the first eight games on the trip.

The T-Bolts have lost in just about every way imaginable on the trip — blowouts (a 12-4 July 5 loss to Traverse City and an 11-2 loss Friday to River City), low-scoring nail-biters (2-1 July 4 to Traverse City and 2-0 Tuesday to Southern Illinois) and heartbreakers (Thursday’s 7-6 loss to Southern Illinois in 17 innings and Saturday’s 4-3 defeat to River City).

Windy City will enter the second half of the season with a big hole to dig out of if it wants to be a factor in the playoff race. Going into Sunday, the T-Bolts were 10½ games out of the final wild-card spot.

The T-Bolts entered the All-Star break at 22-30 last season and finished 50-46. To have anything close to a similar turnaround this year, they’ll need to start stringing together wins. Amazingly, they haven’t won back-to-back games since May 25 and 27.

“We’ve got to put together a win streak,” Windy City’s Jon Mestas said. “We need to get hot and win a few in a row to get us going.”

Lonesome All-Star

Barring an injury replacement, Kyle Robinson is the only T-Bolt on the West roster for Wednesdays’ Frontier League All-Star Game in downstate Sauget.

Gateway manager Phil Warren, who is the West skipper, selected the final three members of the team Thursday and did not choose any Windy City players.

Closer Daniel Carela had been hopeful of gaining a spot, saying he had never been on an All-Star team before and it “would mean the world” to him, but his lack of save opportunities likely hurt him.

Pitching carousel

The T-Bolts have struggled to fill the fifth spot in their starting rotation.

After moving rookie Eli Anderson to the bullpen after the Northern Illinois product struggled in his five starts, Windy City signed rookie Travis McGee, but he gave up seven earned runs in 21/3 innings in his first start July 5 against Traverse City.

Tad Barton, a rookie from Millersville University (Pennsylvania), got his shot after being signed Friday. He failed to get through the fifth inning against River City, allowing nine runs — though just three were earned — in 42/3 innings.



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