It's not often that El Paso has an on-paper advantage in starting pitchers. The Diablos carried an 8.20 ERA into Thursday's game against the Wingnuts, a figure more than two runs per game worse than the next most ineffective American Association pitching staff.
The Wingnuts are trying to piece together a starting rotation, and they might feel comfortable with the five-man group now that they've signed Venezuelan right-hander Marcos Tabata.
Before Tabata can take his turn, Wichita had to endure another predictably awful start from Steve Macfarland. Signed eight days ago after being released by a lower league, Macfarland gave Wichita two forgettable outings. He lasted 1 2/3 innings in El Paso's 10-4 win on Thursday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Scott Hodsdon earned the win for El Paso. He was far from stellar, but he was able to make the Diablos' big early lead stand up. El Paso scored seven in the second, which Macfarland couldn't escape.
"We need some help there, in that spot right there," Hooper said. "We gave him two chances. That's the problem, everybody thinks it's so easy to just replace guys. But I don't want to run guys in and out of here, especially if they can't help us."
Macfarland, who is expected to be released by Wichita today, has toured various independent leagues the last two seasons. But it's difficult to imagine him receiving another opportunity after a dismal 2011.
He was 1-3 with an 8.64 ERA with San Angelo of the North American Baseball League before joining the Wingnuts. Wichita was desperate for pitching after losing ace Nick Singleton to the Mexican League and releasing Jonathan Ellis.
In his first start, Macfarland allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings in a loss to St. Paul. On Thursday he worked a scoreless first with two strikeouts before the Diablos figured him out in the second.
El Paso hit for the team cycle in the second, collecting two-run variations of the double, triple and home run, hit by Kyle Nichols. Macfarland did himself no favors by walking two and working unfavorable counts to most other batters.
"He threw a bullpen for us — that's why we signed him — that was unbelievable," Hooper said. "I said that night that if he could command the strike zone and do what he's capable of doing, he might not even be here long. He might get back to affiliated ball. But it didn't translate, obviously. In St. Paul it wasn't even the same guy."
The Wingnuts trailed 7-0 before Ryan Patterson's two-run home run in the third, but El Paso got those runs back by the fourth.
Wichita had several opportunities to rally or at least make life more difficult for Hodsdon, but several chances came and went with minimal or no damage.
Patterson scored after a leadoff walk in the fifth, but the Wingnuts left two runners on base. Another leadoff walked netted Wichita nothing as three batters struck out, including Brent Clevlen with runners on first and third.
The Wingnuts left 13 runners on base.
"We got a lot of stuff going with two outs, it seemed," Hooper said. "Just couldn't get that big hit with two outs that would put some runs on the board."
Hodsdon lasted six innings and threw 112 pitches, striking out eight but allowing 11 hits. His plodding work kept the Wingnuts off-balance enough to cause them to fail in the clutch more often than not.
"Big (strike) zone," Wingnuts shortstop Josh Horn said. "(Home plate umpire Lance Vaughn) was giving him off the plate. We had to start to make adjustments, and just fell a little short."
Douglas rf5021Conroy lf5220
Machado 2b4012Patterson dh4243
Garcia 3b6110Clevlen cf5000
Nichols 1b5112Richardson 3b5140
Mejia dh4220Delgado 1b5000
Smith lf4210Workman rf4032
Gonzalez ss3220Bellorin c5000
Deleo c4113Horn ss3020
Drew cf4122Duran 2b4010
El Paso071 100 001 — 10 Wichita002 010 011 — 5
E—Richardson (7), Horn 2 (10). DP—El Paso 3, Wichita 1. LOB—El Paso 11, Wichita 11. 2B—Smith (3), Deleo (9), Conroy (9), Richairdson (10), Horn (16). 3B—Douglas (2), Drew (1), Conroy (6). HR—Nichols (1), Patterson (10). SB—Gonzalez (2), Duran (8). CS—Machado. SF-Deleo.
Macfarland L,0-21 2/367522
WP—Mathes. Umpires—Home, Lance Vaughn; first, Travis Godec; third, Kurt Branin. Time—3:08. Attendance—1,871.