It was around this time last year when Mitch Einertson joined the Wingnuts as the final piece of their playoff push.
Einertson, now with El Paso, can’t influence the Wingnuts’ postseason hopes this season — Wichita clinched a playoff berth on Monday — but he can at least give them a rough night on the way.
Einertson, who was released by the Wingnuts in June, had two doubles and a home run on Wednesday, helping the Diablos beat Wichita 4-2 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. He wasn’t the only former Wingnuts player to hurt his former team — starting pitcher Luis Chirinos allowed one run on three hits in seven innings.
Chirinos and Einertson were supposed to be part of an El Paso run to the postseason after the team erased a 7-27 start to climb into contention in the American Association South. A recent rough stretch has eliminated the Diablos from the playoff picture but Einertson isn’t envying Wichita’s greener pastures.
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"It’s baseball, it’s a business and I’ve understood that my whole career," Einertson said. "I’m more than happy for those guys over there. They’re good guys, they’re still friends of mine and I’m glad I could see them succeed."
The matchup with Wichita starter Derek Blacksher proved to be a favorable one for Einertson, whose primary effectiveness comes against fastball pitchers.
In the first, Einertson lined a solo home run just over the left field wall and just inside the foul line. Two innings later, Einertson doubled to the gap in right-center field and scored on a Jermy Acey double. Einertson’s second double came in the fourth, another opposite-field drive to right-center that bounced over the wall.
That cost Einertson a chance for the cycle, because it looked to be an easy triple before it hopped over the fence. Einertson got hits in all three of his at-bats against Blacksher but was held down by relievers Edgar Martinez and Jared Simon.
"Blacksher’s a great pitcher," Einertson said. "He’s gotten me way more than I’ve even touched him. Tonight was a fluke thing, I think."
The Wingnuts were enthusiastic about the addition of Chirinos in the offseason, and he proved them right with Wednesday’s performance. Wichita released the 22-year-old right-hander before the season over maturity issues, but he has rebounded to put together a strong season in two leagues.
Chirinos was picked up by El Paso after he went 7-4 in the North American League, and he has been their ace ever since. Outside of a poor start in his last turn, Chirinos has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his seven starts.
Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper has searched for an effective starter to complete Wichita’s rotation for most of the season, but even seeing Chirinos pitch well against him hasn’t forced Hooper to think of him as the one who got away.
"He’s done really well since he came over here," Hooper said. "(But) no, not by any means. I don’t even think about that. That’s not a thought that has even crossed my mind. I tip my hat, he’s having a good year, but I don’t even think about that situation."
An apparent leg injury ended Chirinos’ night after seven strong innings. The Wingnuts managed little against him after a solo homer by Jake Kahaulelio in the first. Wichita got the first two runners on in the third but failed to advance them and also couldn’t make anything of getting leadoff baserunners in the fourth and fifth.
Each of El Paso’s run-scoring innings were keyed by Einertson. He batted .382 down the stretch for Wichita last season and was an important piece for this season, and even though he was let go by the Wingnuts, he finds little satisfaction in beating them.
"Winning the game," Einertson said, "is the satisfaction right there."
|Gonzalez ss||5||0||2||0||Khoury ss||3||0||0||0|
|Fronk 3b||3||1||0||0||Kahaulelio 2b||4||1||1||1|
|Einertson cf||5||2||3||1||Porter dh||3||1||1||0|
|Dotel rf||4||0||0||0||Ziegler 1b||4||0||0||0|
|Acey 1b||4||1||1||2||Peralta rf||4||0||1||0|
|Nelson 2b||3||0||1||0||Carrillo 3b||4||0||1||1|
|Chavez c||4||0||2||1||McDonald lf||3||0||1||0|
|Muse lf||3||0||0||0||Mier c||3||0||0||0|
|Marks dh||3||0||0||0||Stanley cf||3||0||1||0|
|El Paso||103||000||000||—||4 9 0|
|Wichita||100||000||001||—||2 6 1|
E— Khoury (13). LOB— El Paso 8, Wichita 6. DP— El Paso 2, Wichita 1. 2B— Einertson 2 (21), Acey (13), Chavez (8). HR — Einertson (9), Kahaulelio (5). SB — Gonzalez (39), McDonald (17). CS — Gonzalez (13).
|Chirinos W, 5-2||7||3||1||1||3||3|
|Harper S (2)||1||3||1||1||0||0|
|Blacksher L, 9-5||6||9||4||4||3||5|
WP — Chirinos (2). HBP — by Blacksher (Fronk), by Chirinos (Khoury).
Umpires — home, Joe Pascucci; first, Trent Delmont; third, Justin Post. T — 2:55. A — 2,396.