Alain Quijano, RailCats win fifth straight
By Michael Osipoff firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-2485 August 5, 2013 11:19PM
Updated: September 7, 2013 6:30AM
GARY — Alain Quijano has had wide-ranging success this season.
After all, the left-hander has an American Association-leading 10 wins.
But he has been particularly effective against Kansas City, going 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA in three starts.
Quijano’s latest outing against the T-Bones came on Monday night, as he helped the RailCats to a 10-2 win at the Steel Yard. He allowed the two runs — on a pair of solo homers, as his ERA against Kansas City actually rose — on six hits in seven-plus innings.
“Their hitters can freakin’ swing,” Quijano said. “They’re a better team than they were last time. They were tough today.
“In independent baseball, rosters flip over, and you have to adjust to what they’re doing.”
Christian Vitters had a productive night for the RailCats (45-30) — who have won five straight games, and improved to 7-1 against the T-Bones (31-45) this season, including 5-0 at home — going 2-for-3 with a double, triple, walk, RBI, stolen base and three runs scored.
In a close game until the late innings, the RailCats snapped a 1-1 tie with two runs in the fourth. After Ryan Babineau walked with one out, Vitters followed with a triple to right-center. Cristian Guerrero then grounded out to third to plate Vitters.
Leading 3-2, they broke open the game with three runs in the seventh. With two outs, Zac Mitchell came through with a single to score Vitters — who had led off with a double — and Adam Klein delivered a two-run single to make it 6-2, extending his streak to 30 straight games reaching base.
The scuffling Guerrero cracked a two-run homer to left — his first long ball since June 7, against Sioux Falls — as part of a four-run eighth, as the RailCats sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning.
“Good for Cristian to get that homer,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said.
The T-Bones had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, but failed to score, with second baseman Nick Liles making a terrific over-the-shoulder catch in shallow right on Kennard Jones to end the inning. In the seventh, Quijano worked around Klein’s two-out error, striking out Justin Bass to strand runners on the corners.
“Not to single out one play, but that’s what you want your ace to do — pick up his teammate,” Tagert said. “The tying run on third, he’s been that guy all year, and that was a great example. Alain’s really developed into that, and he’s probably thought he was that guy all along. Some of the names that have been here in the past, that’s what you look for in a top-of-the-rotation guy. His teammates really believe in him.”
The RailCats had manufactured a run to take a 1-0 lead in the second. Vitters walked on a 3-2 pitch to lead off, stole second, moved to third on Guerrero’s groundout and scored on Drew Martinez’s sacrifice fly.
The T-Bones tied the score when Luis Rivera led off the third with a homer to left. They drew to 3-2 on Jairo Perez’s homer to left with two outs in the sixth.
— Pitching update: The RailCats will continue with a five-man rotation one more time through, before going back to a four-man. James Adkins (1-2, 4.70 ERA) is scheduled to start on Tuesday against the T-Bones, with Morgan Coombs (4-2, 5.31) going in the series finale on Wednesday.
“It just gives me a little peace of mind about giving Stephen (Hiscock, who was sidelined for almost two months with a shoulder injury) a little extra time after that last start — not that there’s reason for concern, because he came out of that start pretty well,” Tagert said before Monday’s game.
Adkins, Coombs and Osvaldo Rodriguez remain under consideration for the fourth spot, after Quijano, Billy Spottiswood and Hiscock.
On a related note, the season likely is over for Ari Ronick, after he spent much of the season as a key part of the rotation. The left-hander has been on the disabled list after straining an oblique in his July 21 start, and he likely will be put on the inactive list on Tuesday. Ronick has gone 6-5 with a 4.18 ERA in 13 starts this season.
— At the ready: The RailCats before Tuesday’s game likely will activate Reid Fronk from the inactive list and have him in the lineup against the T-Bones. The corresponding roster move likely will involve a pitcher.