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RailCats starter Morgan Coombs sizzles against T-Bones

RailCats base runner Danny Pulfer (left) steals second away from Kansas City shortstop DevGoodwbottom second inning Steel Yard Gary Ind.

RailCats base runner Danny Pulfer (left) steals second away from Kansas City shortstop Devin Goodwin in the bottom of the second inning at the Steel Yard in Gary, Ind., Wednesday, June 26, 2013. | Guy Rhodes~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 26, 2013 11:23PM



GARY — Morgan Coombs’ first start of the season came against Kansas City, and it did not go well at all, to put it mildly.

It remains to be seen if his start against the T-Bones on Wednesday night was his last, at least for the time being. But there’s no question it was worlds better than that previous one.

In fact, his outing was simply sensational.

Coombs tossed a three-hit shutout, as the RailCats topped Kansas City 4-0 at the Steel Yard. He threw 124 pitches, walking three and striking out four.

“My shoulder’s a little tight, but nothing out of the ordinary,” Coombs said. “I actually feel good, my body feels good. It was a good night.”

It was Coombs’ seventh start of the season, his sixth in place of the injured Stephen Hiscock, after his first four appearances were out of the bullpen. The one on May 26 at the T-Bones was in place of a hurt Ari Ronick. In that spot start, Coombs proceeded to surrender seven runs on five hits — all homers, including back-to-back to start the game and a three-run shot in the second — and three walks in 12/3 innings.

“A little revenge,” Coombs said. “Maybe not revenge, but it’s definitely good to come back out and throw good against a team that got the best of me last time.”

Alain Quijano, Ronick, Will Krout and Billy Spottiswood are also currently in the RailCats rotation.

“We think so highly of him,” manager Greg Tagert said of Coombs, praising his ability to both start and relieve, with his assortment of pitches and arm angles. “He’s very capable. … What’s most impressive is him bouncing back against this club.

“He was good from the outset, and really in command, against a lineup that is very difficult.”

Coombs’ performance was especially important for the RailCats considering the state of their bullpen. Clay Zavada likely will be unavailable for at least two days, after he has been used heavily, and Tagert would prefer to give the closer three or four days off. Set-up man Marco Gonzalez, too, could be limited. Tagert said younger pitchers such as Taylor Sewitt, Kyle Lindquist and Ian Durham could have to step forward.

“They’ve been throwing lots of innings and picking up the starters, so it’s nice to give them a break every once in a while and return the favor,” Coombs said.

Craig Maddox on Wednesday continued his hot hitting, supplying much of the offense with a night that included a home run, his team-leading third and just the RailCats’ sixth this season. His two-run shot to right in the third gave them a 3-0 lead, as he went 3-for-4 with a double. Maddox has four straight multi-hit games, and has 10 hits in his last 17 at-bats.

The RailCats (23-15) have won seven straight games, their longest streak since they won nine in a row from July 15 to 24, tying the franchise record.

As they attempt to complete their second consecutive four-game sweep, Quijano (5-2, 4.69 ERA) is scheduled to start Thursday night’s series finale against the T-Bones (15-24), against right-hander Dustin Loggins (1-0, 2.0), who has made 14 relief appearances this season.

Note: James Adkins (shoulder), who has been on the disabled list since Saturday, threw an incident-free bullpen session on Wednesday. He is nearing a potential return from the DL, which would necessitate a decision about the roster.



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