Tim Brown Puts AirHogs Bats in the Hanger: Wingnuts Wire
Wichita Wingnuts starter Tim Brown had a tough act to follow after watching Anthony Capra return from the disabled list the night before to shutout the Grand Prairie AirHogs for seven innings. Brown must really like a challenge, however, as he put on a pitching clinic of his own in a 4-1 win Saturday night. For Brown it was his ninth win of the season and lowered his ERA to 3.22.
Professor Brown had some new lessons to teach the AirHogs this night. It began with the fundamentals of pitching with a lead. Some pitchers are staked to the early lead, and then still pitch like they are behind, nibbling at hitters, often resulting in walks that lead to trouble. Not Professor Brown. He went right at hitters, not afraid to give up a few hits if it meant he was challenging batters. The righty threw 65 strikes out of his 102 pitches, and only walked two, with both coming early on in the game.
In the fourth, he got into a little trouble but, adding to the lesson from Capra the previous night, he reiterated how a pitcher gets out of jams. Grand Prairie had two runners on with two outs, and trailed 4-0 in the game. A big hit could have cut the lead in half, and helped the AirHogs to rally themselves back into the game. Brown was having none of it though. He got the final out of the inning to ground back to himself; a quick throw to first and the inning was over.
Brown would leave the game after the sixth inning, yielding eight hits and two walks, while striking out three and allowing just one unearned run. He had pitched a solid game where he showed great command of his pitches and pitched great situational baseball.
Professor Brown turned the game over to his bullpen, and they did the job. Daniel Bennett pitched the seventh inning, a 1-2-3 inning where he threw just 13 pitches, nine for strikes. In the eighth the Wingnuts turned to Mike Zouzalik to do a little instruction. Zouzalik threw just nine pitches in recording a 1-2-3 inning of his own, while striking out one batter. For Professor Zouzalik it was his 10th straight appearance in which he did not allow a run, and he has struck out 11 during that time. In his last six appearances he has not even give up a hit.
In the ninth the team would turn to its new closer, Alex Hinshaw. Matt Nevarez had been the team’s closer and was having a dominant season, but he was signed by the Pirates organization, leaving a big question mark as to who would fill his shoes. If Saturday night is any indication, Hinshaw is up to the challenge. The lefty pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two to finish with his third save of the season. For those who wonder if Hinshaw has what it takes to close out games, it appears he has answered the skeptics.
For the second straight night the Wingnuts staked their starter to an early lead. In the bottom of the first, Jake Luce singled with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch. One out later the Dean of Wingnuts U., Brent Clevlen stepped to the plate and lined a single into center field for his 68th RBI of the year, second most in the American Association.
In the second the Wingnuts would add to their lead. C Chris McMurray walked to lead-off the inning and advanced to third when Chris McClendon singled. It looked like AirHogs starter Ryan Searle was going to get out of the inning unscathed however. McClendon was caught trying to steal second, and Dean grounded to a drawn in infield, keeping McMurray at third, but now with two outs. However, Searle hurt himself, bouncing a pitch to Taylor Oldham in the dirt that scored McMurray. It was 2-0, and that was all the support that Brown would need.
In the third the Wingnuts would add a little insurance. Circle K Ryan Khoury singled to lead off the inning, and Jake Luce followed with a double that moved Khoury to third. With two on and no one out, it was clear that Searle was in trouble, especially considering that the heart of the Wingnuts order was up. Searle clearly wanted to get David Espinosa out so he would have first base open when he faced Clevlen, however, Espinosa made him pay for challenging the Wingnuts first baseman. He ripped a double to the wall that scored both Khoury and Luce, and it was 4-0.
For the second straight night the combination of Khoury and Luce had five hits combined, this time with Luce collecting three hits. With the three-hit night, Luce is now batting an amazing .403. David Espinosa finished with two RBI and Dean Clevlen raised his average to .365 on the season with a three-hit performance of his own.
The Wingnuts will take to the field at 2:05 on Sunday. Jon Link will be going for his league leading 12th win to complete the three-game sweep. Danny Gutierrez (3-6) will go for Grand Prairie.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA