CLINTON — Three games into the Midwest League season, Clinton LumberKings manager Pat Shine wants his team to put its lumber to work.
“We’re not being as aggressive to the fastball as we need to be. I don’t know if it’s a mentality or timing deal, but we’ve got to get on it,’’ Shine said after Clinton’s offense remained quiet in a 4-0 loss to Kane County on Saturday in the LumberKings’ home opener.
The shutout was the second straight for the Cougars against Clinton, which has been outscored 20-3 and out-hit 34-13 during its 0-3 start to the season.
Only five of those hits came Saturday, all singles including two by Bryson Brigman and never more than one in an inning as the LumberKings were denied an opportunity to win their home opener for the first time since 2007.
“We’ve got the ability to hit the fastball. I’ve watched our guys do it for the past month, but we need to attack that here now,’’ Shine said. “I don’t think it’s time to panic or anything even close to that. We’ve got a group of competitive guys. We just need to settle in and be the hitters we can be.’’
Kane County collected all of the runs it needed when it bunched together four of its 10 hits during the fifth inning.
Limited to three singles through four innings by LumberKings starter Brandon Miller, who struck out six batters and walked one during a five-inning start, the Cougars pushed three runs across on a pair of two-out hits in the fifth.
After Clinton center fielder Luis Liberato threw out Alexis Olmeda at the plate for the second out of the inning, Marcus Wilson followed with a gap-splitting two-run triple to right-center that was followed by a run-scoring single by Jazz Chisholm which left the LumberKings in a 3-0 hole.
“It was an OK start and a sigh of relief to get the first one out of the way,’’ Miller said. “I felt like I had decent command of the fastball and I was able to get ahead of most hitters. It’s something to build on.’’
That’s what Shine is looking for from his entire team.
“We just need to relax and play,’’ he said. “The two things we need to address right now are being aggressive to the fastball at the plate and our relievers throwing strikes out of the pen. That’s where our work begins.’’