Long Ball Gives Wingnuts, T-Bones Split of Double-Header
The hottest team in the American Association rolled into Wichita Tuesday evening to take on the Wingnuts. The Kansas City T-Bones had won their last seven games and were 8-2 in their last 10. Wichita was returning for their three-week road trip and were hoping a little home cooking would get them back to their winning ways. They would snap the T-Bones win-streak, but Kansas City came back in the night cap to split the double-header, as both teams found the long ball to be crucial in their victories.
In Game 1, it was T.J. Mittelstaedt that produced the power and Jesse Pratt that pitched five outstanding innings of shutout ball to lead the Wingnuts to the 3-0 shutout victory. Pratt was absolutely dominant in the early evening tilt. He allowed a lone walk through the first two-innings, and did not allow his first hit until Tyler Massey had a two-out double in the top of the third. He would allow one more hit in each of the fourth and fifth innings, but that would be all the offense that Kansas City could produce against the right-hander.
Meanwhile, Mittelstaedt was staking his starter to the early lead. Christian Stringer led off the bottom of the first with a double and, two batters later, Mittelstaedt crushed a 1-1 offering over the right-center field wall for his 13th homer of the season.
It would stay that way until the bottom of the fourth when Wichita would extend their lead. With two outs, Martin Medina lined a single up the middle and Richard Prigatano was then hit by a pitch. Next up was Brennen Salgado, who worked the count full, fouling off two pitches to stay alive, before lining a single into right field that scored Medina to make it 3-0.
That was plenty enough offense on this night. Pratt (5-2) pitched 5-innings allowing 3-hits, 2-walks, and no runs. He struck out 5. Chad Nading pitched a scoreless sixth inning, and Frankie Reed came on in the seventh to close it out for his 17th save of the season.
MIttelstaedt finished 2-3 with a run and 2-RBI. That gave him 6-RBI over his last two games.
The second game of the double-header saw the Kansas T-Bones use the long ball to lead them to victory. Todd Kibby started for Wichita and he found himself in trouble right off. Damon Wheat singled with one out and Brett Wiley drew a walk to put two on in the top of the first. Next up was Jake Blackwood, who took a 1-2 pitch from Kibby and drilled it over the left-center field wall for his 13th homer of the year.
Down 3-0, the Wingnuts got one of those runs back in the bottom of the first. Zack Cox doubled with one out and, two batters later, Mittelstaedt lined a ball to the wall in center that he legged out for a triple.
In the second, Kansas City extended their lead back to three. Nolan Johnson started the inning with a double and Sergio Leon was then hit by a pitch. Massey followed by beating out a ground ball for a single and the bases were loaded with no one out. Kibby was in some trouble, but he induced a double-play that scored Johnson to make it 4-1.
In the third, the T-Bones would take a commanding lead. With one out Anthony Gallas crushed his 14th homer of the year to make it 5-1. Next up was Starlin Rodriguez, who went deep over the left field wall to make it 6-1. For Rodriguez it was his fourth homerun of the year.
Next up was Vladimir Frias. Kibby’s second pitch to him was near the T-Bones shortstop’s head, and he quickly took offense to that. Both benches cleared, but cooler heads prevailed before it turned ugly. Frias was ejected.
Wichita got one of those runs back in the bottom of the third. Leo Vargas singled to right with one out and he later scored on a single by Brent Clevlen, who returned from the disabled list earlier that day. In the fifth, Vargas doubled to start the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Cox to make it 6-3.
Josh Hodges (2-2) was done after 6-innings. He allowed 8-hits and 3-runs without walking a batter. He also struck out 7. Mark Haynes came on in the seventh and closed it out for his 15th save of the season.
Blackwood had a huge day for Kansas City, going 3-4 with a run and 3-RBI. Gallas was 2-3 with a run and an RBI. Massey and Wheat were each 2-4. Cox was 2-2 with a run and an RBI for the Wingnuts.
Game 3 of this series will be Wednesday night. Left-hander Anthony Capra (0-2, 8.05) makes his second start since coming off the DL. Jared Messer (4-2, 3.79) goes for Kansas City. First pitch is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier