Today we (as in we Wichitans) get our first lock at the reigning American Association champion, Lincoln, since the Saltdogs took the Wingnuts down in the American Association playoffs last summer. The teams have gone in opposite directions since then — Lincoln has remained dangerous, with a 12-7 record that puts it two games behind Sioux Falls in the North Division standings. The Wingnuts have started 7-11 and are already 6.5 games back. With just 28 to play in the first half, the Wingnuts have to start making up ground quickly. This series gives them a good opportunity to do so, but Wichita has already lost two of three to Lincoln in a road series this season.
Pitching matchups:Friday: Lincoln RH Billy Weitzman (2-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. Wichita RH Nick Singleton (2-2, 1.99)Saturday: Lincoln RH Angel Castro (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Wichita RH Adam Cowart (1-1, 5.06)Sunday: Lincoln RH Jim Paduch (1-2, 4.56) vs. Wichita RH Gabe Medina (0-2, 1.88)
Who’s Hot:Lincoln: Argelis Nunez — Last seven days: 9 for 20, 2 HR, 10 RBIWichita: Josh Horn — Last seven days: 12 for 23; Mario Delgado — Last seven days: 7 for 23, 2 HR, 8 RBI
Who’s Not:Lincoln: Albenis Machado — Last seven days: 2 for 20Wingnuts: Stephen Pearson — Last seven days: 3 for 21; season: .200 avg., 0 HR, 4 RBI
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Wingnuts key to success:This series sets up perfectly for the Winguts. They are sending their three top pitchers to the mound to face a Lincoln team with a collective .225 batting average. That statistic should give the Wingnuts a decided advantage, but Wichita has a 42-point edge in average and has still scored fewer runs than the Saltdogs, 74-71. Wichita has left far too many men on base, and that’s a big reason why it sits in last place three weeks into the season. Neither of these teams hit for much power — Lincoln has a .325 team slugging percentage (embarrassing), and Wichita’s is .353 (not approaching respectable). Lincoln is still 4.5 games ahead of the Wingnuts in the standings because the reigning champs have a 3.68 team ERA and have won seven games by one or two runs. Singleton is exactly the pitcher the Wingnuts want on the mound to set the tone not only for the series, but for the entire seven-game homestand. If the Wingnuts are to play well and make up ground during the next week, they’ll point to a strong performance by Singleton as the propeller.