No, that isn’t me ripping off the old senior PGA slogan. I’m talking about the Wingnuts, and if you haven’t been paying attention, they’re in first place. It’s not a fluke.
I remember at the beginning of the season, all the games were the same. The Wingnuts would most often get a good pitching performance and lose because the failure of hitters to come through in important situations. I struggled with what to write because the same thing happened over and over and over and over and over again.
It’s the same way now. Every game seems the same, except the Wingnuts are now dominating. They score a lot of runs, put up big innings, and the pitching does enough to win. Even after just a few games of that it’s like, What do I write now? I just saw this last night.
Luckily for me, something different did happen last night. The Wingnuts pitched two shutouts, and they came from unlikely sources. Jae Jung, acquired from Sioux City earlier this month, hadn’t pitched since July 27. But he breezed through the lineup of his former team in the first game of a doubleheader, allowing four hits and one walk and not allowing a runner into scoring position.
Then it was Kevin Angelle’s turn. Rocked by Lincoln in his first start after being released by the Phillies organization early this month, Angelle went 5 1/3 innings in the second game Tuesday and didn’t allow a run. His scoreless outing didn’t come as easily as Jung’s — Angelle allowed many more baserunners and had to escape several jams — but the performance had to give Wingnuts brass confidence that he could handle the pressure of a postseason start.
There has been a lot of hyperbole spouted in the press box the last couple days. I just don’t know if it’s hyperbole. Stuff like, The Wingnuts might not lose another game this season. The Wingnuts have the best lineup in the league. The Wingnuts’ 2010 lineup is better than the one in 2009.
Maybe all true. The final two games against Sioux City are the last two games against North opponents this season. The Wingnuts finish their schedule with six games against El Paso, the worst team in the league, and Fort Worth, another team almost out of the race in the South. Six of those games come on the road, though, so nothing is guaranteed.
Circle Thursday on your calendar if you’re a Wingnuts fan. That’s pretty easy to do, since it’s tomorrow. It’s also the last day American Association teams can acquire players. The Wingnuts are looking for a starter and a closer, though those needs may not be as pressing as they were before last night.
Cephas Howard has the mentality of a closer and has done a good job in that role since Justin Dowdy was sold to the Tampa Bay Rays organization. And if Jung and Angelle can deliver quality innings like they did last night, the Wingnuts have a lot of options for their postseason rotation. Not that either of those things will stop the Wingnuts from acquiring the right player, of course.
The lineup needs no help. Is it better than last year’s? Maybe. Deeper, definitely, but this team doesn’t have the home-run power like the 2009 group did. Still, you won’t find many 1-through-9′s more dangerous than this one at this level. The guy I most enjoy watching hit is Carlos Rivera, a veteran of 85 major-league games with the Pirates. He’s in complete control when he’s at the plate, and I don’t think this level is much of a challenge for him. He has great power to the opposite field.
A couple of notes about the postseason: Sioux Falls, by winning the first half, got to choose the playoff format for the Divisional round and took the first two games at home, meaning the last three games (if all are necessary) will be played away from Sioux Falls. The thinking there is that if they can go up 2-0, the Pheasants will only have to win one of three games on the road. I get that, but if the final three games are in Wichita, where the Wingnuts just swept Sioux Falls in a three-game series, nothing is guaranteed.
Also, the Wingnuts can get into the postseason in either of two ways. If they finish with the best record in the North for the second half, they’re in. If Sioux Falls wins the half, the next playoff spot goes to the team with the second-best overall record. Now, that’s Lincoln, which leads the Wingnuts by a game and a half. Wichita holds a half-game lead over Sioux Falls for the half.
The attendance hasn’t been great, though. I’m no cheerleader, but I’d encourage people to come out and watch this club. They’re fun to watch hit. I’m only saying that in support of myself — I want my writing to reach more people, so I need more people to come to the yard. Plus, the weather is nice.
See you tonight!