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Wingnuts can’t muster offense

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, June 30, 2013, at 8:51 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, July 1, 2013, at 9:40 a.m.

Against any other starting pitcher, Sunday’s 2-0 Wingnuts loss to Sioux City might have been explained away as the inevitable letdown after a long stretch of superior offense.

Even if such a letdown was coming anyway, it was expedited by the presence of Explorers right-hander Jason Jarvis, the only American Association pitcher who has figured out how to consistently shut down the Wingnuts.

Jarvis tossed a shutout at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, a performance that is becoming more commonplace than notable. Jarvis has gone nine innings without allowing an earned run in each of his last three starts against the Wingnuts, dating to last June.

Sunday’s start wasn’t Jarvis’ best against Wichita, but it best encapsulated what has made him dangerous for the Wingnuts during the last two seasons. Wichita was retired in order once in the last seven innings, but an inability to string multiple hits together, and to capitalize on chances with runners in scoring position, ultimately proved its downfall.

Wingnuts starter Ryan Hinson allowed zero earned runs in eight innings — he’s allowed one combined earned run in his two losses, both shutouts against Wichita. Sunday’s loss snapped a five-game Wingnuts winning streak.

“I guess we’ll chalk it up to one of those days,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “Hinsy pitched his tail off. He’s lost a 1-0 ballgame and a 2-0 ballgame. Especially with the offense we have, that shouldn’t happen.”

Wichita hitters seemed to get over-anxious when run-scoring chances presented themselves. The Wingnuts grounded into three inning-ending double plays, and instead of sticking with compact-swings designed to hit balls up the middle or to the opposite field, they too-often looked to pull pitches and failed to make solid contact.

That approach was especially futile Sunday, when the wind was blowing straight in and easily knocking down fly balls. After the Wingnuts started the bottom of the ninth with a single and a walk, the only time they got consecutive baserunners, home-run leader C.J. Ziegler took a big swing but only managed an infield popup. The next two hitters were retired and Jarvis was off the hook for the last time after throwing 113 pitches.

“If you think about it as a pitcher, if I see the wind blowing in from left, I’m throwing righties in and lefties away,” Wichita designated hitter John Rodriguez said. “That’s what he did, he mixed up his pitches the right way. All we have to do is tip our hat to him, he did a great job.”

The Wingnuts got the leadoff runner on base four times against Jarvis, with a prime chance to score in the sixth. Jared McDonald led off with a bunt single to bring the top of the order, but Ryan Khoury, Jake Kahaulelio and Rodriguez were each retired.

Wichita had averaged more than eight runs in its previous 15 games, so it’s always seemingly due for a breakthrough inning. That knowledge, as well as the past difficulties against Jarvis, may have been working against Wingnuts batters.

“More than anything, we probably want to go out and get him just because of that,” McDonald said. “You’ve got to treat him just like anybody else.”

Hinson, Wichita’s best starter, saw his ERA drop to 1.75, which trails only former teammate Jon Link for the league lead. Wichita uncharacteristically committed four errors — two preventing potential double plays and leading to Sioux City’s only runs.

Hinson’s outcome could have been even worse, but he pitched around mistakes — including one of his own — to keep Explorers runners stranded in scoring position.

Leugim Barroso’s double ended with him on third base when right fielder David Amberson bobbled the ball in the corner, and Hinson struck out Adrian Martinez after a two-out wild pitch moved Alberto Espinosa to second.

But Wichita hitters couldn’t take advantage of the momentum Hinson created by retiring seven in a row to end his outing, including erasing a leadoff single in the sixth with a double play. The Wingnuts had six baserunners after that, but the Jarvis Magic stopped them from scoring.

“It’s not all about having our number,” Rodriguez said. “We just have to do a better job, when the wind is like this, hitting line drives. When we do hit line drives, they’re right at people. In his last three starts, he’s done what he’s needed to do.... It’s just one of those games, it just happened to be against him three times.”

Sioux CityWichita
abrhbiabrhbi
Kaskadden 2b4220Khoury ss4000
Barroso ss4010Kahaulelio 2b4010
Judah lf 4011Rodriguez dh2000
Murton 1b3000Ziegler 1b4010
Barrows rf3000Clevlen cf4000
Inoguchi cf 4000Armstrong c4010
Espinosa c4030Nievers 3b3020
Martinez dh 4010Amberson rf3000
Bistagne 3b4000McDonald lf 3020
Totals34281Totals31070

Sioux City1000100002 8 0
Wichita0000000000 7 4

LOB— Sioux City 7, Wichita 6. 2B— Barroso (8), Nievers (15).

Sioux CityIPHRERBBSO
Jarvis (W, 5-3)9.070022

Wichita IP H R ER BB SO
Hinson (L, 6-2)8.072025
Bennett1.010000

WP — Hinson (2). Umpires—Home, Brock Ballou; first, Joe Pascucci; third, PJ Krauss.

T— 2:09. A— 3418.

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