What is going on with the Boise Hawks? The question isn't easily answered. Did first-rounder Kyle Schwarber, who was promoted to long-season Kane County following Boise's 4-1 start, really make that much of a difference?
Or is something else troubling the Hawks, who began a three-game homestand Thursday night with a 10-0 loss to the Hillsboro Hops at Memorial Stadium?
Manager Gary Van Tol believes it's confidence.
"Confidence is fragile at this level. It comes and goes like the weather," he said. "When you have it, like we had it in that opening series, it's pretty neat to see. Then you go through some games where you don't play very well and all of a sudden there's some doubt there and guys are doing just enough to lose, and not enough to win."
Boise (5-9 overall) scored 40 runs in five games against Tri-City to open the season, but has only 35 runs in the nine games since. The Hawks have 61 hits in those nine games after recording 56 in the first five. They've allowed Eugene, Spokane and Hillsboro to score an average of three more runs per game than Tri-City.
"It's early, we just need to learn and go through as much of this stuff as possible," Van Tol said. "The great thing about it is we get a chance to come out tomorrow and get another shot. I know they're disappointed, and I know they're going to be ready to come out and hopefully compete better."
Ironically, the player who inherited the dreaded "guy-who-replaced-the-guy" role has elevated his game. Kevin Brown went 3-for-12 (.250) in the Tri-City series, with no extra-base hits, one RBI and two strikeouts while batting seventh in the order.
Since Schwarber's departure, Brown has batted second and third in the order, improving his average to .316 (12-for-38), despite an 0-for-4 performance Thursday, with five doubles, one triple, one home run and seven RBIs.
"It's not necessarily a lot of adjustments, more so kind of trusting what I've been doing all spring," Brown said. "Just seeing the ball, I think that's the big thing once you get into a new league. If you can't see it, you're not going to hit."
HILLSBORO 10, BOISE 0
The Hops batted their entire order in the third inning, plastering five runs to establish an early 7-0 cushion.
Todd Glaesmann, who was reinstated after unexpectedly retiring two weeks before the season, went 4-for-5 for Hillsboro.
Rashad Crawford went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple for Boise.
The three-game series continues at 7:15 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.
Trevor Phibbs: 377-6424; Twitter: @IDS_Phibbs