The only thing missing during the Wingnuts’ recent 11-game winning streak was a shutout, and perhaps the only thing keeping starter Josh Lowey from one on Tuesday was a borderline ball in the
sixth inning against Sioux City.
Lowey was in control most of the night, taking advantage of a free-swinging Explorers lineup, and his brief misstep in the sixth, resulting from a two-out walk to Wally Backman, was virtually insignificant in Wichita’s 8-2 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Wichita’s franchise-record winning streak was snapped by Sioux City on Monday, but Lowey took seriously the task of not letting one loss turn into more. He improved to 3-0 by pitching seven innings and allowing one hit, quickly recovering from a relatively difficult sixth.
"It’s nice," Lowey said. "I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes and give my team a chance to win, and fortunately that’s what happened tonight."
Lowey retired nine straight before allowing a two-out infield single in the sixth to Yusuke Inoguchi, who burned the Wingnuts for five hits on Monday. Backman worked Lowey to the Wichita right-hander’s second full count before taking a pitch that just missed the inside corner and was called a ball.
Momentarily flustered after his first walk, Lowey allowed a two-run double to Kris Sanchez for the Explorers’ first run. It prompted a visit from pitching coach Luke Robertson, who encouraged Lowey to stick with his plan.
Lowey followed the advice and quickly regained his mental superiority, retiring the final four batters. Lowey allowed five hits and struck out three.
"It’s frustrating when something like (the walk) happens," Lowey said. "You talk to the catcher (Taylor Freeman), and he had it as a strike but (the umpire just didn’t call it). That’s the game of baseball _ it’s not always going to go your way."
Lowey’s repertoire of pitches can be overpowering at times, but Sioux City’s aggressiveness made it unnecessary for him to frequently reach into it. Sticking mostly with fastballs, Lowey expanded the strike zone and got Sioux City batters to swing at pitches on the corners.
Before the sixth, Lowey threw no more than five balls in any inning, keeping his pitch count low by throwing four pitches or fewer to 15 of the first 18 batters.
"Nights like that you can be somewhat effectively wild, as they say," Lowey said. "If you’re around the zone and they’re hackers like maybe they were tonight, you’re not biting your nails on every pitch because you don’t know if it’s a strike or not."
A night after being held to one unearned run against Jason Jarvis, the Wingnuts improved their offensive output by the end of the first inning.
Two singles and a walk gave Mitch Einertson a chance to break open the game early, and he capitalized with a one-out double that cleared the bases.
Einertson had nine hits during Wichita’s recent six-game road trip, but was 2 for 17 in his last four games. He took extra batting practice before Monday’s game, in which he got a hit, but broke out Tuesday with a pair of hits and a stolen base.
"It’s really weird _ hitting is a lot of feeling and sometimes you don’t feel right," Einertson said. "Today I woke up and just told myself to just relax and go have fun again. It’s baseball, I’ve been doing
it for years. That was my plan today and I’m glad it worked out for me.
Wichita was stuck on three runs for three innings but broke through again in the fifth, scoring three runs capped by John Rodriguez’s two-run double. Rodriguez struck again in the sixth, blasting a two-run home run. Rodriguez has multiple RBIs in three of his last four games.
The top five hitters in Wichita’s order accounted for eight hits, three walks, eight runs and seven RBIs.
"Personally, I’m glad I’m not a pitcher that has to face our lineup," Einertson said. "Our lineup is filthy, 1 through 11 — even the guys who aren’t playing can hit. It’s fun to be on a team like that. It’s awesome. I know if I don’t get it done, the guy behind me will."
|Newton cf||4||0||1||0||Khoury ss||4||2||2||0|
|Inoguchi rf||4||1||1||0||Kahaulelio 2b||2||3||1||0|
|Backman 3b||3||1||0||0||Rodriguez dh||5||2||2||4|
|Sanchez 1b||4||0||2||2||Richardson 3b||5||1||1||0|
|Serrano c||4||0||0||0||Einertson cf||4||0||2||3|
|Goodro dh||3||0||0||0||Ziegler 1b||3||0||1||1|
|Priddy ss||3||0||0||0||Peralta rf||3||0||1||0|
|Murphy 2b||3||0||1||0||Carrillo lf||4||0||0||0|
|Bistagne lf||3||0||1||0||Freeman c||4||0||0||0|
|Totals 31||2||6||2||Totals 34||8||10||8|
LOB—Sioux City 3, Wichita 8. DP— Wichita 2. 2B— Newton (3), Sanchez (5), Rodriguez (3), Einertson (4). HR — Rodriguez (3)..
|Quijano L, 0-2||4 2/3||8||6||6||3||2|
|Lowey W, 3-0||7||5||2||2||1||3|
Umpires — home, .Dan Hoffman; 1, Joe Stegner; 2, Mike Riggers. T — 2:29. A — 3,086.