They are questions that have loomed throughout the Saltdogs' season.
What if and what could have been? They hope Nick Schulz might be the answer.
“That's what we signed him for,” Lincoln hitting coach Tom Carcione said after Schulz hit his fifth home run in the month of August on Friday.
It was Schulz's fourth home run in the past five games, as the Saltdogs dropped a 6-1 game to St. Paul at Haymarket Park.
Schulz missed nearly a month of baseball from June to July on the inactive list, and came into Friday's contest batting .298 in August with 11 of his 16 hits going for extra bases. Schulz added his sixth double of the month Friday, finishing 3-for-3 at the plate.
“Carce (Carcione) is 100% right,” Lincoln manager Bobby Brown said. “This is why we signed him. We knew what he was capable of, and he was coming off a tough year last year in Double-A and Triple-A. “What you've seen (in August) is what we thought.”
Despite Schulz's hot streak, the Saltdogs (36-47) have gone cold after starting August 7-0 at Haymarket Park, dropping four of their last five at home, including three in a row.
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It has been a frustrating season, the Saltdogs' Curt Smith said.
“Honestly, we just need to keep playing hard,” Smith said. “There has been a lot of ups and downs this season, and it is part of the game. You can't win them all, but I think we just need to keep playing hard and try to make the best of the rest of the games.”
After outscoring opponents 40-18 over the seven-game home winning streak, opponents have outscored Lincoln 29-14 in the past five games.
Injuries have also played a key role this season for Lincoln, and Randolph Oduber and Forrestt Allday are currently nicked with injuries.
That has forced the Saltdogs to shuffle the lineup, moving third baseman Josh Mazzola to right field. Kyle Kinman, a Saltdogs pitcher, served as a designated hitter in the loss to the Saints. Kinman went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
“This is the most difficulty I've had in seven years to piece together a lineup,” Brown said. “The guys in there are doing good, but you are asking them to do stuff they don't normally do.”
Lincoln and St. Paul finish the season series at 7 p.m. Saturday at Haymarket Park.