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Quijano continues winning ways for RailCats

Updated: July 2, 2013 7:28AM



GARY — The American Association’s reigning Pitcher of the Week began this week with his best start yet this season.

Alain Quijano tossed a five-hitter over eight innings, as the RailCats edged Sioux City 1-0 on Wednesday night at the Steel Yard. The left-hander had four strikeouts and one walk in the longest outing for a Gary starter this season, improving to 3-0 with a 0.47 ERA in his last three turns.

“Against that lineup, and it’s right-handed heavy, and it’s one that’s very familiar with him, Alain was just tremendous, just as he’s been his last couple starts,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. “He’s been the top-of-the-rotation guy that we wanted when we brought him back.”

Quijano went 3-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 13 starts for Sioux City last season, before being sold to Grand Prairie on Aug. 8. The next day, he allowed a season-high nine runs on 12 hits in 42/3 innings against the Explorers.

“They got me last time, and I got them this time,” said Quijano, whom the RailCats acquired from Grand Prairie in the offseason. “Once again, they’re very aggressive, and you just have to get ahead and throw strikes. Just give your defense a chance behind you, and they did a great job.”

Quijano got out of a first-and-second, one-out situation in the first inning. He later retired 15 of the 16 batters he faced from the second inning into the seventh, with the lone baserunner coming on his own error with two outs in the fifth. He allowed back-to-back two-out singles in the seventh, but got Alberto Espinosa to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. He allowed a leadoff single in the eighth, with the runner sacrifice bunted to second, before he got Wally Backman Jr. to ground out to end the inning.

Marco Gonzalez worked around a one-out error by Zac Mitchell in the ninth to record his second save of the season, as the RailCats (8-5) took two of three games from Sioux City (6-7) before leaving for a six-game road trip to Texas.

“It’s huge,” Quijano said. “We just want to keep winning series, and that’s what we did.”

The RailCats scored the game’s only run in the second inning on Mitchell’s two-out single to score Ryan Babineau, who was hurt on the play and left the game, with Steve Liddle entering at first base and

Craig Maddox moving from first to catcher. Babineau — who was diagnosed with a strained groin, and expected to be out three days —

had gotten hit by a pitch with one out and Brian Kolb followed with a single.

Sioux City starter Andy Noga was good in his own right, allowing the run on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings, but was outdueled by Quijano.

“That was about as well-pitched a ballgame as you’re going to see,” Tagert said. “You don’t see too many 1-0 games anymore.”

Notes

Danny Pulfer was a late scratch at second base on Wednesday — with regular Chase Tucker getting the start after he had been scheduled to have the night off — and has been diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms, after experiencing dizziness and lightheadedness. After he was examined by the team doctor on Wednesday, he will not make the trip to Texas, and was expected to be sidelined at least seven to 10 days. Pulfer hit his head and neck making an excellent catch going into the stands in the second game of the season against Lincoln (starting at third base because of Brian Kolb’s fractured finger), and during batting practice on Wednesday was the third time he had experienced the symptoms, but the first time he had mentioned it to the RailCats staff.

Before Babineau got injured, Liddle was going to held out of Wednesday’s lineup as a precaution, after he had returned on Tuesday having missed five straight games after a fouling a ball off his right shin. Between sitting out Wednesday’s game and Thursday’s off day, Liddle was expected to be back to full-time action for Friday’s series opener at El Paso.

The RailCats were scheduled to depart two hours or so after Wednesday night’s game — approximately midnight — for their Texas road trip, a 23-hour bus drive to El Paso, their first stop. After an off day on Thursday, they open a three-game series against the Diablos on Friday night, then play three games at Amarillo. They went 1-5 on a Texas swing last season, after going 6-0 on a similar lengthy trip in 2011.

Ari Ronick (1-1, 4.09 ERA) threw a successful 35-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday, and was expected to be activated from the disabled list to start Friday’s series opener at El Paso, necessitating a corresponding roster move. He has missed one start because of lat tightness.

Around the bases: Going into Wednesday, the RailCats had been outscored 18-16 in the first inning. They had scored in the first inning in eight games, going 5-3; they had allowed at least a run in the first inning in seven games, going 4-3; and they had gone 3-2 in games in which both teams scored in the first inning. … The RailCats had allowed 10 runs in the seventh inning, their next-highest total behind the 18 first-inning runs.



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