“Teams that have beaten us, we’ve outhit them, we may have even out-pitched them,” Menchaca said. “But they got the big hit, the dinger or a double. We didn’t score enough runs. Any time we can put a team away, we have to make sure we do it.”
That wasn’t the case on Wednesday, he said, highlighting fielding miscues and offensive lags when scoring seemed imminent.
Menchaca has coached the last two Clinton playoff teams and the team is looking for its fourth consecutive berth tying a franchise record. The focus in late August is less about development, he said.
“There’s not much that I do other than become a motivator,” he added. “As your players develop throughout the course of the year, you hope they have a good feel for it towards the end of the season.”
The playoffs, he said, are a chance for players to demonstrate intangible value with the stakes raised. Menchaca shied away from singling out pivotal players in the stretch. He wouldn’t comment on which players he feels are on the verge of a Ketel Marte-like breakout, but did mention the return of Brock Hebert from High Desert and the recent addition of power hitter D.J. Peterson as major assets for the push.
Infielder Tim Lopes acknowledged the recent call up of Marte left a void at the top of the order, but has faith in himself and teammates.
“As far as guys filling the holes, we’ve got a lot of guys that can do that,” he said, following his own 2-for-4, two-RBI performance, Wednesday. “I feel like our team all around, anybody can pass the torch. For me, it’s all about helping the team win.”
Right now, the 25-26 LumberKings are not a Midwest playoff team. To win a neck-and-neck race with the Chiefs, the conclusion may come down to whether or not more runs will come with those bases.
“My quote of the day today was ‘enjoy your work,’ “ Menchaca said. “If we didn’t have the first six months, we can’t have this last month... This is where we see what we’re made of.”