That was the predicament facing West Division manager Jim Gabella of the Burlington Bees as the East tagged starter Trey McNutt for three quick runs en route to a 6-2 victory at the Midwest League All-Star Game.
McNutt's nightmare started innocuously enough after Great Lakes shortstop Christian Lara singled to open the proceedings. Things went downhill as Lara stole second and scored on a two-out double by Bo Greenwell of the Lake County Captains. McNutt's fate was sealed when Great Lakes' Jerry Sands, the eventual MiLB.com Star of Stars, stepped to the plate.
Sands quickly showed fans at Parkview Field why he's leading the league in home runs, taking a fastball on the other side of the plate up and over the left-field wall to give the East an early 3-0 lead.
"I faced him a few weeks ago and he has a pretty good slider," Sands said. "I just wanted to make sure that I didn't get to the slider and I knew he was going to try and come out and establish the fastball. Luckily, I didn't miss it."
Things didn't get any better for the West in the second inning.
After Fort Wayne's Danny Payne reached on a fielder's choice, Lara continued his table-setting ways by lining a two-out double. Dayton's Henry Rodriguez laced an offering from Kane County's Ian Krol to the opposite field for a two-run single.
Things could have been a lot worse though. A single by Greenwell chased Krol in favor of Clinton's Erasmo Ramirez, who walked Sands to load the bases. However, Ramirez got Home Run Derby winner Nate Freiman of the TinCaps to fly to center field.
The West did not go quietly. Hoping to help his teammates avoid the fourth shutout in Midwest League All-Star history, D'Marcus Ingram of the Quad Cities River Bandits greeted Lansing's Aaron Loup with a hard single to left. He stole second, took third on a base hit by Cedar Rapids' Jean Segura and scored on a passed ball.
The West scratched out a final run on a sacrifice fly by Cedar Rapids' Casey Haerther in the ninth before Great Lakes' Luis Vazquez got Ingram to ground out to end the game.
While Sands earned MVP honors, Greenwell went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored in his All-Star debut.
"That's kind of how you want to draw it up," said the son of former Major League outfielder Mike Greenwell. "You just go out there and you leave it all out there on the field, and that's what happened tonight."
NOTES: The All-Star break concludes Wednesday, with regular-season play resuming Thursday. ... East Division pitching coach Bronswell Patrick of the Fort Wayne TinCaps said he was limiting all pitchers to around 25 pitches. ... The All-Star Game featured five 2009 first-round Draft picks, including West Michigan RHP Jacob Turner (ninth overall), Cedar Rapids OF Mike Trout (26th) and Clinton SS Nick Franklin (27th). ... Attendance was 6,026.