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Game 52 (4): Wingnuts 8, Air Hogs 7

Box score — Wingnuts 8, Grand Prairie 7

The parenthetical (4) is the number of games the Wingnuts have played in the second half. I’ll probably keep it like that, even if I have to explain it in every post.

I’ve been quite critical of the Wingnuts during their futile first half, and they deserved pretty much all of that criticism, because they just weren’t very good.

I never made a big deal of one games, or four games, during the first half, though, and I’m not about to do it now. But I think it’s obvious to everyone who’s watched this team lately that it’s much improved. With the additions of Jackson Melian and Jorge Cortes, the lineup is much deeper and more troublesome for pitchers. Though those two hit in the middle of the order and haven’t yet hit a home run, they provide quality at-bats that veterans are supposed to provide and that the Wingnuts weren’t getting from some of the younger, less disciplined, less experienced players that previously occupied those spots.

Having those two guys around takes pressure off pretty much everyone else. Though Josh Horn isn’t a prototypical leadoff hitter, he doesn’t  have the weight of hitting third and being expected to be anything other than the type of hitter he is. Ryan Patterson in the No. 2 slot is perfect, because even though he’s not going to lay down many sacrifice bunts because of his power, he pretty much always puts the ball in play and provides speed if he reaches base.

I don’t think Mario Delgado is too pumped about moving from third in the order to fifth, but he should be. Melian and Cortes just give him two more potential RBIs, and since July 1, Delgado has driven in 11 runs, with two three-RBI games in that stretch. He’s among the league leaders with 50 RBIs so far.

Jeff Christy in the No. 6 spot gives the Wingnuts a fairly formidable bottom three, with Stephen Pearson, Michael Thompson and whoever will be the permanent second baseman. For now, it’s Rene Ruiz, a rookie who appears overmatched at times but is still batting .333 in limited time.

Grand Praire’s pitching staff ranks eighth out of 10 in the American Association in ERA, and obviously manager Pete Incaviglia isn’t too confident in his bullpen, as he left an average starter in tonight for 121 pitches with a big lead. The bullpen imploded, but a poor opponent doesn’t take anything away from the Wingnuts’ win. They’ve won three in a row for the first time this season.

As legendary Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown once said: That’s called A WINNING STREAK. It HAS happened before.

Up next: Grand Prairie at Wingnuts, 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Starting pitchers: Grand Prairie, RH Greg Krause (2-3, 4.31 ERA); Wingnuts, RH Gabe Medina (2-4, 3.44).