Maybe the rain of earlier Monday washed away the Wingnuts’ tears over blowing a four-run ninth-inning lead against Lincoln on Sunday. Yeah, there were plenty of tears. Who was crying the most? Oddly enough, Ryan Patterson. Just kidding. I saw no one crying. But Patterson does seem like a sensitive guy. He likes to read, from what I understand. So do I. Do you smell a future episode of Just A Few Questions? I know I do.
Here are some of the ERAs of the Wingnuts relievers:
Will Morgan: 10.39Matt Petty: 7.94Cephas Howard: 7.88Doug Hurn: 5.84
Yikes. Collectively, the six Wingnuts relievers, including Justin Dowdy and Dustin Pease, have a 6.03 ERA. Yesterday I said Dowdy was the only safe pitcher in the bunch as far as the Wingnuts looking for possible upgrades, but I think Pease can be added to the list. He has a 3.46 ERA (Dowdy’s is 0.00), and his only real problem is walks — seven in13 innings. And five of the 10 hits he’s allowed have gone for extra bases. That’s a little bit of bad luck. Getting ahead in counts will prevent those hard-hit balls that turn into doubles and homers.
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As the bullpen is reeling a bit, the best offensive team in the league, Sioux Falls, comes to town. This is the same Pheasants club that hung 13 runs on the Wingnuts bullpen in 2 1/3 innings just four days ago. But that was at home, in the friendly confines of Sioux Falls Stadium, where the Pheasants are a much better hitting team, with good reason. But that’s a nugget for the “Wingnuts Key To Success” segment later on. For now, let’s look at the pitching matchups for this four-game series:
Monday: Sioux Falls LH Brian Flores (1-1, 5.09 ERA) vs. Wingnuts RH Luke Massetti (1-1, 5.00)Tuesday: Sioux Falls LH Ryan Rodriguez (3-0, 2.16) vs. Wingnuts RH Ben Graham (0-0, 4.76)Wednesday: Sioux Falls RH Ben Moore (3-2, 2.12) vs. Wingnuts RH Nick Singleton (3-2, 1.82)Thursday: Sioux Falls LH Chris Salberg (4-0, 1.99) vs. Wingnuts RH Adam Cowart (2-1, 3.90)
As you can see, the pitching favors Sioux Falls. As does pretty much everything else. That’s why the Pheasants are 16-6 and leading the last-place Wingnuts by 6.5 games in the American Association North Division.
Who’s HotSioux Falls: 1B Brandon Sing. AA Ranks — batting average 3rd (.418); home runs 1st (9); RBIs 1st (32); extra-base hits 2nd (15); on-base percentage 2nd (.520); total bases 2nd (66).OF Beau Torbert. AA Ranks — batting average sixth (.400); home runs T-2nd (8); RBIs 3rd (26); extra-base hits 1st (16); slugging percentage 2nd (.750); total bases 1st (69); hits 4th (37); runs 1st (26).
So, yeah. Those guys are really good. The most amazing thing? Six guys in this league are still batting .400 or better after three weeks. That seems inordinate. Am I crazy?
Wingnuts: Mario Delgado. Wichita’s fourth-leading hitter at .310 and its RBI leader with 23, which ranks fifth in the league.Josh Horn. Now batting third in the lineup, Horn had a team-record 20-game hitting streak snapped Sunday. He’s batting .346, tops on the Wingnuts.
Who’s NotSioux Falls: C Eddy Rodriguez (3 for last 17 with seven strikeouts)Wingnuts: OF Eric Williams (2 walks over the course of his last 27 at-bats after 10 walks in span of 41 at-bats)
Key to Wingnuts successPretty much just hope for the best, I guess. Sioux Falls leads the North Division in ERA, batting average and fielding percentage. So the Pheasants can pitch, hit and field. What else is there? They have 35 home runs, 16 more than anyone else in the entire league. Part of that is because they play in a bandbox and fly balls go out of the stadium in Sioux Falls, and part of it is because the Pheasants have a deep lineup with lots of power hitters. Getting them at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, where Wichita took 2 of 3 games earlier this season. Sioux Falls also, understandably, doesn’t hit as well away from home. Its batting average in Sioux Falls is .334, 59 points higher than the .275 mark it posts on the road. The Pheasants have 28 homers at home, seven on the road in four fewer games. All the stats, really, are skewed heavily to their home ballpark. Really heavily. Sing and Torbert can hit anywhere, though. That’s proven. This is a key series for the Wingnuts to try to get back in the race. A sweep will leave them 2.5 back of Sioux Falls, and taking 3 of 4 will allow them to pick up two games. Wichita has to put Sunday night’s disaster behind it and focus on the most important series of the season to date.