The glass has been half empty for the Mavericks since they began the season 0-10. They’ll take whatever positives they can.
It doesn’t matter if they’re trivial, or even if they come from outside the baseball diamond.
Forget that the Mavericks arrived in Columbia on Tuesday morning fresh off a miserable 12-hour bus ride from Washington, Pa., the easternmost outpost in the Frontier League.
Forget too that their 1-5 road trip ended with four consecutive defeats.
The food was good. That was solace enough.
It caused right-hander Nick Renault to reminisce before the Mavericks’ 6-3 loss to Gateway Tuesday night.
“They give you a really good getaway meal (in Washington),” he said. “They said just eat as much as you want — come up and order it. We pigged out.”
It was quite a feast indeed, chicken strips, chicken sandwiches, cheeseburgers, French fries, onion rings and three kinds of tube meats (hot dogs, Polish dogs, and sausage dogs).
After a while, though, thinking about food made Renault hungry.
The Mavericks had to go without their usual pre-game spread Tuesday. Their clubhouse worker was busy with other duties at Taylor Stadium and unable to shop for groceries.
Tired and hungry, the Mavericks (22-46) lost their fifth-straight game.
If they lose more than two of their remaining 28 games, team co-owner and president Gary Wendt will have to refund season ticket holders half their money. Wendt offered that as collateral when he guaranteed in the offseason that the Mavericks would play .500 or better.
On Tuesday, Damien Dantibo was tagged with his first loss of the season. He allowed seven hits and four runs in four innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.
Dantibo (2-1) had been solid for the Mavericks before Tuesday’s start, attracting major league scouts for his last several outings. The 19-year-old joined the team in July after playing in a Japanese industrial league earlier this season.
Untimely hitting again plagued the Mavericks. They outhit Gateway 13-12 but stranded 10 runners.
The bullpen, a problem for much of the season, kept Mid-Missouri in the game.
“We’ve got a lot of starters but are short on relievers,” manager Jim Gentile said Tuesday afternoon.
Mid-Missouri entered the game with a 22-man roster, including nine pitchers. Gentile said the ideal total was 24 players at the beginning of the season.
The relief corps lost another member Saturday when right-hander Pete Eberhardt signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. He is the first Maverick to climb to a major-league system during the Frontier League season.
Eberhardt reported to the Blue Jays’ advanced rookie league team in Pulaski, Va., this weekend. He was 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA in 23 innings as a Maverick.
Renault said that Eberhardt broke the news to teammates while they played video games in their Washington hotel room.
“It was a bit of a surprise, but we’re all happy for him,” Renault said. “I hope he goes all the way. Seeing him on TV somewhere would be great.”
Their happiness for Eberhardt aside, Gentile knows the Mavericks’ bullpen void is now greater.
He said the situation is made more difficult because prospective players have to pay their own way to travel to Columbia for a tryout.
“This late in the season, it’s so hard to fill these spots. Guys say, ‘Oh, there’s only three weeks or three-and-a-half weeks left in the season. I’ll just wait ’til next year’.”
WAKES UP: Mavericks’ bench coach Thomas “Wakes” Waelchli replaced Gentile in the third-base coaches’ box in the bottom of the fourth inning Tuesday.
The duty had been Waelchli’s all season until Gentile took over July 22.
OUCH: First baseman Thomari Story-Harden fell to the ground after being hit in the ribs by a pitch leading off the eighth. He was able to walk off the field under his own power after being attended to by Gentile and team trainers for a few moments.
“It’s just sore,” Story-Harden said after the game.