Since the Wingnuts didn't have a starter ready to pitch on normal rest, Wednesday was designated as a bullpen day, when multiple relievers pitch out of their comfort zone.
It was clear starter — and usual reliever — Marcos Tabata wasn't in his element. But when the rest of Wichita's relief corps took their turns, they bought time for the offense to rally.
The Wingnuts scored four runs in the seventh to turn a potentially damaging defeat into a 6-5 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. After Tabata's difficult outing, the bullpen, including starter Nick Singleton, allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings.
If the playoffs started today, the Wingnuts would be in. They took a half-game lead on St. Paul in the wild-card race and are two games behind Gary-Southshore in the American Association Central.
"That's the bullpen we know and love and have become accustomed to," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "That's a pretty good bullpen we have down there."
The Wingnuts' seventh inning was a reversal of a trend that saw them lose the series opener to Kansas City and appear on their way to dropping another game to the T-Bones on Wednesday.
In Tuesday's game and much of Wednesday's, the Wingnuts failed in the clutch and even situations that didn't require a hit to score a run.
Even though the hits that helped Wichita take the lead weren't completely convincing, they served their purpose and were a welcome sight after multiple strikeouts, groundouts or shallow pop-ups with a runner on third and less than two outs.
"Still a lot of situational hitting tonight," Hooper said. "We didn't take advantage of it. That's a huge add-on run in the bottom of the eighth.... We just keep battling and finding a way. I don't care how we get it done, I guess, as long as we get it done."
Mitch Einertson got his first hit in two games with the Wingnuts, a broken-bat blooper that carried just over the head of shortstop Jose Duran. That gave another RBI chance to Josh Workman, who grounded out with the bases loaded late on Tuesday.
Workman, who didn't start on Wednesday, made the most of his pinch-hitting appearance, rolling a grounder up the middle that Duran couldn't keep in front of him. It rolled into center field and scored the tying and go-ahead runs.
Duran was charged with an error to bring the second run in and Workman got one RBI.
"I like coming in in situations like that," Workman said. "I feel confident in what I do, and I like to try to get something done in those situations."
In the first inning, the Wingnuts loaded the bases with no outs and failed to score. They scored two in the fifth but missed a chance for more by leaving two runners on base. By the seventh, those failures were forgotten.
Also forgotten were the possibly expected difficulties by Tabata, who typically throws no more than 30 pitches but who threw 78 on Wednesday. His fatigue was evident bv the fifth, when he allowed two hits and a walk and left with Kansas City leading 3-0.
Singleton allowed an RBI single to make it 4-0 and Kansas City scored in the seventh, but the bullpen was otherwise unscored upon. Wichita missed opportunities to extend the lead, a point of stress when Kansas City's leadoff hitter reached in the ninth. But closer Josh Dew worked around the walks and recorded his 18th save.
"It was huge," Workman said. "It's huge when they can hold a lead for us."
Simon cf3210Mojica 2b4001
Duran ss4122Horn ss 4121
Sadler rf3121Rivera 1b3100
Fasano dh3011Delgado dh4000
Ka'aihue c3000Einertson cf4011
Snyder 2b3010Bustamante rf2000
Hulett 1b4000Workmn ph-rf1011
Barrows lf2100Bellorin c3100
Kansas City001 030 100 — 5 Wichita 000 020 40x — 6
E—Duran (2). DP—Kansas City 1, Wichita 1. LOB—Kansas City 7, Wichita 9. 2B—Duran (11), Sadler (19), Fasano (23), Horn (29), Richardson (23), Conroy 2 (20). 3B—Simon (12), Conroy (8). CS—Washington (8). S—Simon (6), Duran (8).
Kansas City iphrerbbso
Stewart L, 4-5 1/324310
Batista W, 1-3211112
Dew S, 18100010
HBP—By Stewart (Horn); By Batista (Simon). WP—Tabata (2).
Umpires—Home, Trent Delmont; First, Justin Post; Third, Joe Pascucci