In a dugout conversation after a troublesome first inning, Power pitching coach Jeff Johnson and right-hander Zack Von Rosenberg discussed a familiar topic.
In that first inning, Von Rosenberg yielded four runs, elevating an already unsightly earned run average, and he again failed to demonstrate the mental approach that Johnson has been preaching.
"He's thinking too much about location and not enough about attitude, which is the best word I've got for it,'' said Johnson. "He's too much worried about location. He's trying to hit spots instead of trying to blow up bats, which is the way we talk about it.''
By blowing up bats, Johnson means inside pitches that sometimes leave splinters in the infield or, at least, make batters reluctant to lean over the plate.
After the conversation, Von Rosenberg pitched more favorably, but the Lakewood BlueClaws continued their assault and defeated the Power 11-6 Saturday night at Appalachian Power Park. A crowd of 2,220 saw the Power lose its second in a row and drop to 20-21.
The 20-year-old Von Rosenberg, a sixth-round draft pick in 2009, allowed six hits and five earned runs in four innings, leaving him with an 0-4 record and an 8.27 ERA. He's allowed 20 runs in his last four starts.
It's not for lack of talent, Johnson emphasized.
"We have to get some attitude,'' he said. "There's not a lot of conviction when he's trying to pitch inside. It's disappointing. We've been working on it, and I see it at times but not often enough. He's got enough stuff; it's just how he goes about using it. Sometimes he gets in a mode where he's trying to trick hitters instead of blowing up the bat. We talk a lot about blowing up bats, pitching inside. And if the batters are standing off the plate, we pitch in further. It's all about attitude; it's all about a mentality.''
Despite the early 4-0 deficit, the Power tried to make a game of it. Justin Howard doubled home two runs in the bottom of the first, and the Power scored single runs in the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth and totaled 12 hits, including three each by Drew Maggi and Howard.
Johnson, meanwhile, wants Von Rosenberg to gain some confidence and not worry so much about each pitch's location.
"When they get too conscious about location,'' he said, "they lose their athleticism and they lose their stuff. So the stuff isn't nearly as good, and they don't get away with mistakes nearly as often. I want him to challenge hitters and get after people instead of trying to hit spots too much.''
POWER POINTS: The Power and BlueClaws will play at 2:05 p.m. today and close out the four-game homestand with an 11:05 a.m. game Monday. ... Power pitchers are far and away the South Atlantic League's stingiest in issuing bases on balls. Entering Saturday's game, they had walked just 78 in 40 games. Hagerstown pitchers had walked 98 in 41 games for the runner-up spot. ... The Power wore specially designed jerseys that were auctioned off after the game to raise money to benefit a suicide prevention program.
Reach Mike Whiteford at 304-348-7948 or mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.