TinCaps manager Jose Valentin's emotions have moved from angry, to desolate, to thoughtful.
Fort Wayne (25-21) dropped a season-high fourth-straight game in a 7-3 loss to South Bend. It suffered its first four-game sweep at home since 2006.
"We're getting beat ourselves before the first pitch is thrown over home plate," Valentin said. "The last four days, we just came here – as soon as we walk into the clubhouse, you could see we was beat. You could see the faces, body language, guys just walking in there like with no hope at all. And that's bad."
Afterward, Valentin wondered what the problem could be. He turned it, in part, upon himself.
He also revealed what he hopes will be the solution to his team's slump.
"I'm gonna have a meeting with them tomorrow," Valentin said Friday. "I don't know if they're tight, if I'm getting too hard, I just want to find out what is the problem. I just want to get the results. I just want to get this thing out and try to make them better. But I mean, I need somebody to speak up."
Valentin isn't sure if he is overworking his players, or perhaps not offering enough feedback. He hopes his chat with the players Saturday will clear the air and get his team's mindset back where it needs to be.
Right now, the TinCaps are missing what mattered most to Valentin at the beginning of the season. The effort he lauded when Fort Wayne started the season is nonexistent now.
That needs to change.
"I'm not seeing that in anyone," he said. "It's not easy, but they're not making it any easier. They're making it tougher and tougher."
A pitcher's take on a hitting slump
Fort Wayne starter Zach Eflin had eight strikeouts and allowed one run in a 1-0 loss to South Bend on Thursday. He watched the bats go cold, and colder still, in the doubleheader that day.
And he saw his team do slightly better, but get the same result, Friday.
"Every team goes through it, and we're gonna learn from it," Eflin said. "We rely on each other, and when one person falls, a couple people fall and the whole team falls."
That's what it looked like throughout the four-game sweep. The lack of success was contagious throughout the lineup, although Fort Wayne got some quality pitching in its first three losses.
The bats picked up some Friday, but not enough. And when pitchers have a low margin of error, they tend to get tight.
Eflin said the problem isn't the hitters. The issue for this team is that they can't put together a complete day of baseball.
"You hope to have some offense behind you, but some days you're not gonna have it," he said. "Some days, you're gonna pitch good and not have any offense. Some days, you're gonna pitch bad and you're gonna have great offense."
The TinCaps lacked offense in their first three games, and the pitching slipped Friday. In order to win some games, they will need to put both together.