Jared Simon has pitched in more than half of the Wingnuts’ games this season, and some of those 28 appearances are second chances.
When Simon takes a loss or can’t overcome a potent lineup, Wichita manager Kevin Hooper makes sure Simon’s negative feelings don’t linger.
Success in second chances is what keeps Simon earning more first ones — a night after taking a loss in relief, Simon pitched two scoreless innings in the Wingnuts’ 4-2 win over Kansas City on Wednesday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Simon leads the Wingnuts in relief innings and is second in games behind Nick Walters’ 30. Simon has had to fill many relief roles while Wichita endures injuries and defections among the pitching staff, so the time for a mental break has rarely been afforded him.
"When something happens the night before, I like getting them right back out there, too," Hooper said. "I want them right back on that mound getting confidence again. I’m confident in them. We’ve used them a lot, and I hate it that we’ve used them so much.
They tell us every day whether they’re good to go and they’re troupers, all of them. They’re pretty much ready every single day. It takes something crazy when one of them is down."
The Wingnuts lost four one-run games in going 1-7 on their recent road trip through Texas and Simon earned the loss in two of them. Early in the season, the sidearmer was relied upon as a matchup reliever against right-handed hitters, but Wichita’s shorthanded bullpen has necessitated his pitching in various situations.
With starter Nate Robertson returning to the rotation Wednesday on a limited pitch count after missing time with shoulder discomfort, the Wingnuts’ bullpen was needed for six innings. Two were handled by rookie Andrew Aizenstadt, who surrendered a two-run home run in the fourth that cut Wichita’s lead to 3-2.
Simon entered in the sixth to protect Wichita’s slim lead and was overpowering, striking out the side in his first inning and working around a one-out single in the seventh. Simon hadn’t thrown more than 1 1/3 innings since going two innings at Kansas City on June 16.
"You go in there with confidence, knowing you’re getting the job done," Simon said. "Some nights the ball rolls the other way, and some nights you come out on top."
The Wingnuts didn’t completely emerge from the offensive woes that plagued them on the road, but they managed 11 hits — all singles — that produced several chances for them to pull away.
It didn’t happen, as the Wingnuts stranded 11 runners, but they got important insurance in the eighth, when Ryan Khoury’s RBI single put them ahead by two runs. In some ways, the Wingnuts made the most of their limited offensive attack, executing two hit-and-run plays and stealing a pair of bases.
"That’s all I was thinking about all night, it would be nice to be on the right side of (a close game)," Hooper said. "We played pretty well tonight. Big add-on run by (Khoury). We had the whole plan of taking that walk, (Mike Conroy) bunting him over, and doing the little things to add on."
The Wingnuts stretched their lead over Kansas City in the American Association Central to seven games and did so with reinforcements — Robertson returned to the rotation, where he will be joined today by another former Wichita State left-hander, Anthony Capra.
Wichita also added second baseman Jairo Perez, but the pitching additions might be most important. Jeff Nadeau, who had three spot starts, returns to the bullpen, which is now complete with six pitchers.
"The last couple nights, I had two losses in two games on the road," Simon said. "You’ve got to come back out here with a short memory after that and pitch like I know I can."
|Bass cf||4||0||1||0||Khoury ss||4||1||3||2|
|Goodwin ss||4||0||1||0||Carrillo 3b||5||0||2||0|
|Jones lf||4||1||1||0||Rodriguez dh||3||1||2||0|
|Sadler rf||3||1||1||2||Avila 1b||4||0||0||1|
|Coleman c||3||0||0||0||Perez 2b||4||0||1||1|
|Cruz 3b||4||0||0||0||Peralta rf||3||0||0||0|
|Mense 1b||4||0||1||0||Tellam c||3||0||0||0|
|Williams dh||4||0||1||0||McDonald lf||3||2||2||0|
|Helms 2b||3||0||1||0||Conroy cf||3||0||1||0|
E— Carrillo (3), Robertson (1). LOB— Kansas City 6, Wichita 11. DP— Wichita 1. 2B— Jones (14), Helms (2). HR — Sadler (10). SB — Williams (3), Khoury (16), McDonald (7). CS — Khoury (3)
|Anderson L, 3-5||5||9||3||3||4||7|
|Aizenstadt W, 1-0||2||5||2||2||0||0|
|Nevarez S (6)||1||0||0||0||1||0|
WP — Anderson. Umpires — home, Bryan Childe; first, Andrew Carroll; third, Rich Gunton. T — 2:47. A — 2,311.