Justin Murray had 15 days to prepare for a start that he really didn't have any time to prepare for at all.
His first start for the Wingnuts came Tuesday against Fort Worth. Murray was signed by the Wingnuts over the weekend, so there wasn't much time to get ready for a lineup he had never seen before.
Murray, who last pitched in Double-A with the Oakland Athletics organization a little more than two weeks ago, had the advantage in the first-time matchup, holding the Cats to two runs in six innings in a 6-2 Wingnuts win.
Murray, a former Kansas State right-hander, pitched the last three-plus seasons in the Oakland organization before being released and picked up by Wichita.
"I didn't feel like I was on my best game," Murray said. "I got a little tired toward the end of the game because of the time off. I was going out there and battling and trying to get groundballs, letting my defense help me."
Murray never felt the breeze of a 1-2-3 inning in his Wichita debut, but, aside from a two-run Fort Worth fifth inning, he was also rarely in trouble.
Fort Worth hit into two double plays in the first three innings. Cory Morales got into scoring position with two outs in the second, but he was stranded there after a groundout.
Kelley Gulledge looked at a called third strike in the second inning to represent Murray's only strikeout. He was consistently in the strike zone and quickly got out of innings.
"I had a couple double plays and had the mindset that I'm always one pitch away from getting a double play and getting out of the inning," Murray said.
The most important stretch of Murray's outing came in the fifth and sixth innings, when he had been given a 6-0 lead by Wichita's hitters.
Fort Worth scored two runs in the fifth on a two-out double by Marcos Rodriguez, but he didn't move up because Murray retired the next batter, Travis Metcalf.
Still, Murray wasn't out of potential trouble. The Cats had their 4-5-6 hitters due up in the sixth and Murray was going through their lineup for a third time. He allowed a hit and a walk in the sixth, but ultimately escaped with a groundout with two runners on.
His night was over after that; he threw 93 pitches before giving way to the Wingnuts' bullpen. Brandon Mathes, Jared Simon and Gary Lee each pitched a scoreless inning.
"I just tried to get strike one, then strike two after that and try to put them away," Murray said. "I think I walked a guy, so I got out of my comfort zone a little bit, but I got back into it by getting a groundball to get out of the inning."
Murray felt less pressure after the Wingnuts handed him a big lead after three innings, doing much of the damage with two outs.
Wichita scored all three of its second-inning runs with two outs as Edwin Bellorin, Mike Conroy, Thomas Fitzgerald and Josh Horn delivered consecutive hits.
Jorge Delgado hit a two-run homer with one out in the third, then two batters later Bellorin doubled with two outs, and scored on a double by Conroy.
"Tonight I think we had four or five hits with two outs and runners in scoring position," Conroy said. "Big hits, quality hits. That's the name of the game, driving in runs with two outs."
D—Fort Worth 2, Wichita 2. LOB—Fort Worth, 8, Wichita 4. 2B—Rodriguez 2 (6), Bellorin (4), Conroy (3), Cortes (5). HR—Delgado (2). S—Fryer (1). SB—Morales (3), Bellorin (1).
|Fryer cf||4||1||1||0||Horn ss||4||0||2||1|
|Rodriguez rf||4||0||3||2||Patterson cf||4||0||0||0|
|Metcalf 3b||3||0||0||0||Cortes rf||4||1||1||0|
|Allen dh||4||0||0||0||Richardson 3b||4||0||1||0|
|Lockwood 1b||2||0||0||0||Delgado 1b||4||2||3||2|
|Gulledge c||4||0||0||0||Workman dh||4||0||0||0|
|Morales ss||3||0||2||0||Bellorin c||4||2||2||2|
|Kinzler 2b||4||0||0||0||Conroy lf||3||1||2||2|
|Monger lf||4||1||3||0||Fitzgerald 2b||3||0||1||0|
|Fort Worth||000 020 000 — 2Wichita||033 000 00x — 6|
|WP—Seaman (1). Umpires-Home, Travis||Godec;||First, Joe||Stegner; Third, Ben Levin. T—2:22. A—5,128.|