Wichita Wingnuts Game Notes
WINGNUTS RETURN TO CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: The Wichita Wingnuts beat the Grand Prairie AirHogs 13-0 in Game Three of the Division Series at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on Friday night. The win finished off a three-game sweep of the AirHogs in which the Wingnuts' pitching staff combined for three shutouts over 30 innings. Anthony Capra earned the win with 7.1 scoreless frames on three hits. Capra walked one and struck out nine. Offensively, the Wingnuts collected 19 hits in the win, including four triples. Ryan Khoury, CJ Ziegler, Brent Clevlen, and David Amberson each had three hits. Khoury also homered and finished with three RBI. Nine different Wingnuts had at least one hit in the win. Josh Dew pitched a perfect top of the ninth to close out the series. The three consecutive shutouts match a franchise record set in 2011 from July 12th -15th .
ALL-TIME AGAINST THE RAILCATS: The Wingnuts are 16-12 all-time against the Gary SouthShore RailCats in the regular season, including an 8-8 mark at US Steel Yard. This marks the first postseason meeting between the two clubs. Gary SouthShore joined the American Association in 2011 after spending the previous nine seasons in the Northern League. RailCats' manager Greg Tagert is in his ninth season. Tagert guided the RailCats to the playoffs in each of his first six years, and won Northern League Championships in 2005 and 2007. Tagert was named Northern League Manager of the Year in 2007 and 2009. Including the 2013 season, Tagert is 902-726 (.554) in 18 seasons as a professional manager, which includes nine years of service in the Frontier League. Tagert has never had a losing record in any of his 18 years, and holds the Frontier League's career mark for managerial wins. The Wingnuts and RailCats battled neck-and-neck for the 2011 Central Division title with the Wingnuts clinching the division by 1.0 game on the final day of the regular season. Wichita swept a key, three-game series from the RailCats at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in late-August of that year. The sweep vaulted the Wingnuts into first place for the remainder of the season. US Steel Yard opened in 2003 after the RailCats were forced to play their inaugural season exclusively on the road. Mike Massaro, the American Association's all-time leader in triples, returns for a fifth season with the RailCats.
SERIES MATCHUP: The Wingnuts were 68-32 and clinched the American Association Central Division on August 23rd . Wichita swept a three-game series vs. Kansas City to finish the regular season before sweeping the Grand Prairie AirHogs in the Division Series 3-0. The Wingnuts won 23 of their final 30 regular season games. The RailCats were 58-41 and clinched the American Association wild card on August 31st . The RailCats won two of three vs. El Paso to finish the regular season and defeated the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in the Division Series 3-1. Gary SouthShore won 11 of 14 to close out the regular year. The Wingnuts finished first in the American Association in hitting (.297), first in pitching (3.38), and tied for first in fielding (.977). The RailCats were ninth in the league in batting (.273), third in pitching (4.07), and tied for third in defense (.976). The Wingnuts were 6-7 against the RailCats this season, including a 3-4 record at US Steel Yard.
TONIGHT'S STARTERS: The Wingnuts go with right-hander Junior Guerra who was 9-4 with a 3.30 ERA in 19 starts and two relief appearances in the regular season. Guerra finished tied for ninth in the American Association in wins, fifth in ERA, and second in strikeouts (126). The 126 strikeouts set a Wingnuts' single-season record. Guerra is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in one start this postseason. Guerra took a no-decision at Grand Prairie in Game One of the Division Series last Wednesday, pitching 6.0 shutout frames. Wichita won the game 2-0 in 12 innings. Guerra was 5-2 with a 3.59 ERA on the road this season in 11 starts and one relief outing. Guerra allowed three or fewer earned runs in 14 of 19 starts and allowed more than four earned runs in just three of them. Guerra walked three or fewer batters in 14 of 19 starts. Guerra pitched at least 6.0 innings in 15 of 19 starts and pitched at least 5.0 innings in all of them. From June 21st through the end of the regular season, Guerra was 6-4 with a 2.63 ERA (25 ER, 85.2 IP) in 13 starts and two relief outings. Guerra beat the RailCats on August 21st at US Steel Yard, allowing four earned runs in 6.0 IP. Lifetime against the RailCats, Guerra is 2- 0 with a 3.86 ERA (6 ER, 14.0 IP) in two starts. In his Wingnuts' postseason career, Guerra is 0-0 with a 0.71 ERA (1 ER, 12.2 IP) in two starts.
Guerra was 1-3 in five starts with a 5.46 ERA for the Mexican League's Leones de Yucatan last year. Guerra allowed three or fewer earned runs in four of five starts for the Leones. Guerra starred for the Wingnuts in 2011, posting a 9-3 record while finishing tied for ninth in the American Association in ERA (3.57) and seventh in strikeouts (103). Guerra was 8-1 with a 2.30 ERA over his final 12 regular season starts in 2011, and then allowed one earned run in 6.2 innings in Game One of the Division Series at Grand Prairie. On July 13th, 2011, Guerra worked the first 7.1 innings of a combined no- hitter over the Shreveport-Bossier Captains at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
As a pitcher, Guerra is 20-13 with a 3.74 ERA in 82 career games, 44 of them starts. Guerra is in his eighth year of professional baseball, and spent four years in the Atlanta Braves' farm system as a catcher. Guerra was signed by Atlanta as an international free agent in 2001.
The RailCats go with left-hander Alain Quijano who was 12-7 with a 4.05 ERA in 21 regular season starts. Quijano led the American Association in wins and tied for second in complete games (3). Quijano took a loss at Fargo-Moorhead in Game One of the Division Series last Wednesday, allowing two earned runs on six hits in 7.1 innings. Quijano was 6-3 with a 3.15 ERA at home this season in 10 starts. Quijano allowed three or fewer earned runs in 13 of 21 starts and allowed more than four earned runs in just five of them. Quijano walked two or fewer batters in 16 of 21 starts and walked more than three batters in just one of them. Quijano pitched at least 6.0 innings in 14 of 21 starts and pitched at least 5.0 innings in 18 of them. Quijano pitched into the seventh inning 10 times. Quijano was 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA (6 ER, 13.0 IP) against the Wingnuts this season in two starts. Lifetime against the Wingnuts, Quijano is 1-1 with a 6.11 ERA (12 ER, 17.2 IP) in three starts.
Quijano was a combined 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA for the Sioux City Explorers and Grand Prairie AirHogs last year. Quijano tied for 16th in the American Association in ERA and walked only 27 in 112.2 IP over 18 starts. Quijano allowed three or fewer earned runs in 12 of 18 starts and allowed more than four earned runs in just five of them. Quijano walked two or fewer batters in 14 of 18 starts and walked more than three batters in just two of them. Quijano pitched 6.0 or more innings in 13 of 18 starts and tied for sixth in the American Association with three complete games.
Quijano is 39-43 with one save and a 4.58 ERA in eight professional seasons over 176 appearances, 100 of them as a starter. Quijano has spent his entire career in the independent ranks, and is in his third tour with the RailCats. Quijano pitched for Greg Tagert in both 2009 and 2011.
WINNINGEST WINGNUTS: The 2013 Wichita Wingnuts set American Association records for wins (68) and winning percentage (.680). The previous record for wins was 65, shared by the 2006 Lincoln Saltdogs (65-31, .677) and the 2012 Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (65-35, .650). Wichita's 65th win of the season came on August 29th at Lincoln, while the record-breaking 66th victory was August 31st vs. Kansas City. The 2006 Saltdogs held the previous record for single-season winning percentage.
HOOPER FIVE FOR FIVE: The Wingnuts won their 51st game of the season on August 6th at Rockland, clinching a winning season under manager Kevin Hooper for a fifth time in five years. Hooper is 290-202 (.589) since taking over the club in 2009 and has guided the Wingnuts to four playoff berths. Hooper's .589 winning percentage is the highest among American Association managers over the last five years. His 290 wins also rank first during that stretch. Hooper was a member of a team that made the playoffs in eight different seasons over his 10-year playing career. Hooper was also a member of Wichita State University's College World Series team in 1996. The Shockers reached the NCAA tournament in all four of Hooper's collegiate seasons, and posted a composite .815 winning percentage.
HOOPER VOTED MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Wingnuts' manager Kevin Hooper was announced as the American Association's Manager of the Year on Friday. It is the second time Hooper has won the award (2009). Hooper guided the Wingnuts to a league-record 68 wins in 2013.
ZIEGLER VOTED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Wingnuts' first baseman CJ Ziegler was announced as the American Association's 2013 Player of the Year on Friday. Ziegler hit .318 while leading the league in both home runs (30) and RBI (99). Ziegler also ranked tied for fourth in runs scored (81), tied for fourth in doubles (32), tied for fifth in walks (58), tied for ninth in on-base percentage (.408), and second in slugging percentage (.645).
FIVE WINGNUTS NAMED ALL-STARS: Five Wingnuts were named to the American Association's Postseason All-Star Team on August 30th . First baseman CJ Ziegler, second baseman Jake Kahaulelio, third baseman Abel Nieves, outfielder Brent Clevlen, and designated hitter John Rodriguez all received honors.
WINGNUTS SHATTER LEAGUE RECORDS FOR STRIKEOUTS, ERA: The Wingnuts' pitching staff set two major American Association records this season. The Wingnuts' 3.38 team ERA bested the 2008 Fort Worth Cats' mark of 3.49. Wichita hurlers also shattered the league record for strikeouts with 782. The 2012 Laredo Lemurs held the previous record at 738. Wichita passed Laredo with 11 team strikeouts on August 27th at Lincoln. The Wingnuts also had eight starting pitching performances of 10 or more strikeouts. In their first five seasons combined, the Wingnuts had three total double digit strikeout games from a starting pitcher.
NIEVES, ZIEGLER SWEEP TRIPLE CROWN: For the first time in their history, the Wingnuts had a player lead all three triple crown categories. Third baseman Abel Nieves became the fourth Wingnut to win a batting title in the team's first six years (.357). Kevin Hooper won by 40 points in 2008 at .373, Greg Porter topped the league with a .372 mark in 2009, and Jake Kahaulelio finished first with a .372 average in 2012. Nieves had a 19-game hitting streak from June 8th -26th (38 for 76, .500), which ranks tied for the second-longest in team history (Greg Porter, 2009 and Jorge Delgado, 2010). The team record is held by Josh Horn, who hit safely in 20 consecutive games from August 29th, 2009 through June 5th, 2010. Nieves finished second in the Frontier League in batting average last year, hitting .320 for the Joliet Slammers. Nieves reached the Triple-A level three times with the Los Angeles Angels' organization.
First baseman CJ Ziegler topped the league in both home runs (30) and RBI (99). The 30 home runs established a new American Association single- season record. The previous record belonged to Brandon Sing, who hit 27 for the Sioux Falls Pheasants in 2010. Ziegler tied Sing on August 21st at Gary SouthShore. The following night, Tim Pahuta of the Sioux Falls Canaries cracked his 27th and 28th homers of the season to pass both Ziegler and Sing for the league record. Ziegler re-took the lead (and record) with home runs in three consecutive games from August 24th -27th . Pahuta finished the season with 29. It is the first time a Wingnut has lead the American Association in RBI.
WALTERS BREAKS APPEARANCES RECORD: Wingnuts' left-hander Nick Walters led the club with 50 appearances this season. Walters' 48th appearance came on August 28th at Lincoln. It was also Walters' 105th outing in a Wingnuts' uniform over the last two years, breaking Jared Simon's franchise record. Walters and Simon each appeared in 57 games in 2012 to set an American Association single-season record.
TRIPLE TRIPLE: With four strikeouts on August 22nd at Gary SouthShore, left-hander Anthony Capra became the third Wingnuts' pitcher to reach 100 or more strikeouts this season. Junior Guerra finished second in the American Association with 126 strikeouts. Capra ranked third with 122. Chris Smith was fifth at 112.
KAHAULELIO BREAKING RECORDS: Wingnuts' all-star second baseman Jake Kahaulelio led the American Association in runs scored (91). The 91 runs are a new Wingnuts' single-season record and surpass the 81 scored by Juan Richardson in 2011. Kahaulelio was also hit by a pitch 22 times, which set an American Association record. David Thomas (Grand Prairie, 2011) held the previous league record with 20, while Jorge Delgado (2011) owned the prior Wingnuts' mark with 18 HBP. Kahaulelio won the American Association batting title last season (.372) and was named the league's all- star second baseman.
ROAD WARRIORS: For a second straight season, the Wingnuts finished with a winning record on the road. Wichita was 31-19 (.620) away from Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in 2013, which included an 11-5 mark during the team's annual NBC road trip.
KHOURY SETTING THE TABLE AGAIN: Wingnuts' shortstop Ryan Khoury reached base in 89 of 99 games this season with a hit, walk, or hit by pitch. Khoury reached base in 87 of 100 games in 2012, and was named the American Association's Defensive Player of the Year. Khoury also ranked in the top-four in the league in runs scored, walks, and stolen bases. On June 26th vs. Laredo, Khoury missed his first game since joining the Wingnuts last year. Including the postseason, Khoury had started 145 consecutive games both at shortstop and in the leadoff spot, and missed just five total innings in the field during that stretch. Prior to June 26th, the last time a Wingnuts' player other than Khoury started at shortstop was September 4th, 2011 when Josh Horn started Game Four of the Division Series vs. Grand Prairie. Jimmy Mojica was the last Wingnuts' player to bat leadoff, which was also on September 4th, 2011.
ZIEGLER CLEANING THE TABLE, WINGNUTS' NEW HOME RUN AND RBI KING: Wingnuts' first baseman CJ Ziegler finished first in the American Association in home runs (30) and RBI (99). On August 8th at Rockland, Ziegler set a franchise single-season record with his 22nd home run of the season, besting Kelly Hunt and Greg Porter who each hit 21 home runs in 2009. In the opener of a double header on June 14th vs. St. Paul, Ziegler hit his ninth home run of 2013 and his 27th in a Wingnuts' uniform, passing Ryan Patterson (2010-11) for the most in franchise history. On August 21st at Gary SouthShore, Ziegler collected four RBI to reach 90 for the year and break the Wingnuts' single-season mark. Greg Porter (2009) and Juan Richardson (2011) shared the previous team record at 86. Ziegler tied a Wingnuts' single-game record with seven RBI on June 24th vs. Laredo. Last season, Ziegler ranked tied for third in the American Association with 18 home runs in just 58 games played. Ziegler has helped his team reach the playoffs in each of his first six professional seasons.
DEW WORK: Wingnuts' closer Josh Dew tied Lincoln Saltdogs' reliever RJ Rodriguez for the league lead in saves (27). It is the first time in Wingnuts' history the team has had a pitcher lead the league in saves. The 27 conversions are a franchise single-season record. Byron Embry (2008) and Dew (2011) shared the previous record with 20. Dew's 56 saves in a Wingnuts' uniform since 2011 are the most in team history.
POWER AND SPEED: The Wingnuts offense was driven by a rare mix of power and speed. Wichita finished first in the American Association with 107 home runs and first with 146 stolen bases. Wichita led the American Association with 86 home runs in 2009, which stood as a franchise single-season record until this year. 2013 marks the first time the Wingnuts have led the league in steals. The franchise-best for stolen bases is 150 set in 2012.
STINGY ARMS: The Wingnuts' pitching staff finished first in opponents' batting average at .236. Anthony Capra ranked first among starting pitchers at .228. Chris Smith was second at .235. Junior Guerra placed eighth at .252.
PITCHING STRONG: The Wingnuts set an American Association record with a 3.38 team ERA. The Wingnuts ranked first in ERA in 2009 (3.52) and 2010 (4.05), while finishing third in 2011 (4.52).
SWINGING STRONG: The Wingnuts finished first in the American Association with a .297 team batting average. Wichita was first in the league in hitting in 2011 (.311) and second in 2012 (.291).
GLOVE WORK: The Wingnuts finished tied for first in the American Association with a .977 fielding percentage. Wichita has now led the league in defense in four of its first six years of existence (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013), and finished second in 2011. The Wingnuts hold the American Association record for team fielding percentage at .980, which they accomplished in both 2009 and 2012.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: The Wingnuts are 188-106 (.639) all-time at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. It is the highest home winning percentage for any American Association team since the Wingnuts began play in 2008.
COMPLETE ME: The Wingnuts' pitching staff ranked second in the American Association with seven complete games, which tied a franchise single- season record. The Wingnuts also had seven complete games in 2009 and 2010.
TOUGH LOSSES: Of the Wingnuts' 32 losses this season, 17 were by one run, three by two runs, and four by three runs. Wichita held a lead at some point in 19 of its 32 losses.
GUERRA PROTECTING THE HOME FRONT: Wingnuts' right-hander Junior Guerra has excelled when pitching at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Guerra is 11-4 with a 2.87 ERA (44 ER, 138.0 IP) in 19 career starts and one relief appearance in Wichita.
ZIEGLER HITS FOR THE CYCLE: Wingnuts' first baseman CJ Ziegler hit for the first cycle in team history on August 21st at Gary SouthShore. Ziegler hit a solo home run in the top of the first inning, added a two-run triple in the third, and picked up an RBI double in the seventh. The single came in Ziegler's final at bat in the top of the ninth.
'J-ROD' REACHES MAJOR MILESTONES: Wingnuts' DH John Rodriguez hit a two-out, three-run home run in the bottom of the second inning on July 8th vs. Amarillo for the 1,500th base hit of his 17-year professional career. The home run also have Rodriguez 902 career RBI. On July 18th vs. Lincoln, Rodriguez set the Wingnuts' franchise record for RBI (126) with a two-out, RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning. Josh Horn (2009-11) held the previous team record with 125 RBI. Rodriguez finished the 2013 season with 167 Wingnuts' RBI.
KHOURY BREAKS TEAM STEALS RECORD: Wingnuts' shortstop Ryan Khoury set a franchise record with his 47th stolen base on July 6th vs. Amarillo. Josh Horn (2009-11) held the previous record with 46. Last year, Khoury established a Wingnuts' single-season record with 37 stolen bases, surpassing current manager Kevin Hooper's mark of 34 set in 2008.
BACK-TO-BACK: John Rodriguez and CJ Ziegler hit back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches in the bottom of the third inning in game one of a double header on Friday, June 14th vs. St. Paul. They were the first back-to-back home runs for the Wingnuts since July 26th, 2011 when Josh Horn and Brent Clevlen accomplished the feat vs. Fargo-Moorhead. Ziegler and Clevlen homered on back-to-back pitches on Monday, June 24th vs. Laredo, while Clevlen and Abel Nieves hit back-to-back home runs on August 8th at Rockland.
GRAND SLAM TIME: On Tuesday, June 11th at Winnipeg, Abel Nieves hit the Wingnuts' first grand slam home run since August 27th, 2011 when Juan Richardson hit a bases loaded 'big fly' in a 19-2 rout at El Paso. Wichita hit .309 as a team with the bases loaded in 2012, and was hitting .400 with the sacks full going into June 11th of this year, but had gone 126 consecutive games without a grand slam. CJ Ziegler hit the Wingnuts' second grand slam of 2013 on June 28th vs. Sioux City. Jake Kahaulelio smacked the first walk-off grand slam in team history on July 23rd at Amarillo.
ALUMNI REPORT: RHP Matt Nevarez (2011-12) had a 2.31 ERA for the Double-A Southern League's Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay) with 13 strikeouts in 11.2 IP. RHP James Hoyt (2012) earned a mid-season promotion to the Southern League's Mississippi Braves (Atlanta) and posted a 2.48 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 32.2 IP. Hoyt pitched to a 4.89 ERA with 72 strikeouts in just 49.2 IP earlier this year for the High-A Carolina League's Lynchburg Hillcats. LHP and Wingnuts' co-owner Nate Robertson (2012) had a 3.04 ERA in 50.1 IP for the Triple-A Pacific Coast League's Round Rock Express (Texas). RHP Jon Link was purchased by the Detroit Tigers on June 19th and went 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in five starts for the Double-A Eastern League's Erie SeaWolves. Link was 0-4 with a 5.56 ERA in seven starts and four relief appearances following a recent promotion to the Triple-A International League's Toledo Mud Hens. LHP Ryan Hinson was purchased by the Atlanta Braves on July 11th and went 4-4 with a 2.48 ERA in 10 starts for the High-A Lynchburg.
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