BRADENTON -- After an abnormally long team meeting followed another deflating Marauders loss, Michael Ryan still had more players to pull aside. After 10 more minutes or so of conversation, the Bradenton manager hoped his message had gotten across.
During a speedy 4-2 loss to the Threshers on Thursday, Ryan watched his players disengaged from the game in the dugout. When things went well, he said, they didn't seem to care and when they went poorly the Marauders didn't seem to mind.
He spent roughly 15 minutes after the game in the clubhouse to tell them.
"I was a little bit upset tonight because we were down by two and there was a lot of messing around in the dugout," Ryan said after his team lost for the fourth time in five games. "They were worried about too many of the wrong things."
Bradenton (27-33) fell behind in the second inning in front of 733 at McKechnie Field and, even after a pair of runs in the third, never seriously threatened Clearwater's (30-30) lead. After managing three hits against Threshers starting pitcher Matt Imhof (2-1) during that third frame, the Marauders only put two more runners in scoring position and never strung together multiple hits.
And while Ryan spared the explicit details from his stormy postgame tirade, he offered up specific examples of his frustration.
There was the seventh-inning hustle double by Austin Meadows.
"I tried to get something going," Meadows said.
The All-Star outfielder blooped a ball into center field with two outs and, when he saw Clearwater's Aaron Brown take a lazy stroll toward the ball, he dashed to second for a double.
"Nobody gave him props for it," Ryan said.
Then he mentioned the two masterful innings of scoreless relief from Montana DuRapau. The recently promoted reliever made his sixth appearance for the Pirates' Class A Advanced affiliate Thursday and held the Threshers to one hit, lowering his ERA to 1.64
"He's unbelievable," Ryan said. "Nobody says anything to him. You've got to be kidding me."
"That's being selfish in my opinion," he went on. "That's feeling sorry for yourself. We don't have time for that."
Even Ryan's starting pitcher, Jayson Aquino, bothered him despite six strong innings. Because his outing lasted seven.
Aquino (3-5) has toggled in and out of focus this season -- often within the same game -- leading to a mix of dominant outings and clunkers. In the finale of Bradenton's four-game series against the Phillies' Florida State League team, Aquino breezed through an eight-pitch first inning only to lose focus in the second. He issued a one-out walk to Threshers third baseman Harold Martinez to set up a two-run homer by Brown. First baseman Willians Astudillo immediately added a double and came around to score on a two-out single by second baseman Emmanuel Marrero.
Other than the one inning, Aquino kept Clearwater to one run on three hits. His final line, however, wasn't pretty.
"He had an easy first and he thought it was gonna be easy for the rest of it," Ryan said, "and before you know it Clearwater jumped on him and that was your ballgame."
The Marauders responded with two in the third on a pair of singles and an error only to go quietly for the final six frames.
Both times Bradenton got a runner to second base there were already two outs and the inning ended with the next batter. Meadows' double was the only extra-base hit of the game for Bradenton, and, although Ryan was pleased with it, he was reluctant to be too impressed by the hustle play. It's something he said Meadows should be doing more and the rest of the team should be following by example.
"We've been up and down all year," Meadows said. "Every now and then you need a pep talk and all that good stuff, but everyone just needs to be doing their job."