Where was this wrecking crew during the losing streak that swallowed all of last week and then some?
It's a tempting and natural question to ask, given recent events of such opposite extremes. But, the truth is, it doesn't apply to the Yakima Valley Pippins, whose current version is nothing like the one that endured nine straight losses or, for that matter, like any other team put on the field this summer.
For now, at least, anything seems possible after Thursday's 13-4 bludgeoning of the Bellingham Bells, who brought a nifty 14-7 record to Yakima only to be resoundingly swept in a three-game series by a team that, for the time being, has figured out how evolve on the fly.
Beset with a rash of injuries and chemistry-busting high turnover, the Pippins are now at a franchise-record 43 players who've been on the roster in barely a month. That undoubtedly played a big role in the painful losing skid, and yet in the three games against Bellingham the team cranked out 35 hits and put a serious hurt on the Bells' momentum.
"This was an excellent series, and a great way to get back on track," said shortstop Owen Cobb, the only player in Thursday's lineup who was on the opening-day roster on June 4. "We've obviously had some tough times, but guys have had a great attitude about it. It's been a whirlwind with all the new bodies, but guys have come in and helped us win."
Thanks to a six-run outburst in the fourth inning when 11 batters came to the plate, the Pippins reached a season-high in scoring by the fifth and kept on going, finishing with 11 hits for their third straight double-digit day.
Manager Marcus McKimmy slotted Cobb, one of his few month-long veterans, in the leadoff role and he scored runs in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings.
"I feel like I can fill a number of roles, but I do love leadoff," said the Stanford-bound infielder from Seattle's Garfield High School. "I do what the team needs. Today I was a run scorer and maybe another day I'm a run producer. It's important to do what's needed, especially when there's so much turnover on the team."
Nick Israel, who joined the team early last week, was 3 for 5 with a run and RBI, and outfielder Eddy Pelc, who came in on Tuesday, singled, drew three walks and scored three runs out of the No. 9 spot in the suddenly potent lineup. Nick DiCarlo, who played for the Pippins last summer and rejoined the program on Tuesday, contributed two hits, two runs and two RBI.
"That's the great thing about baseball — anything can happen," McKimmy said. "We're grinding away and doing the best we can with the roster. We've had our struggles, but this was a great series and well deserved."
The ever-morphing Pippins started 6-1, labored through losing streaks of four and nine games, and now have an impressive home sweep over a quality opponent to reach the season's midpoint at 11-15. The second half starts Friday with a series at Portland.
"We've always had a lot of trust in ourselves, even in the losing streak," Cobb said. "We trusted that we would come out of it and, with an opportunity here at home, we did it. This is just what we need. We're going to continue to improve and get a lot better."