GARY | The RailCats beamed after their road trip to open August that they returned 5-3 when it could easily have been 4-4 or 3-5.
Today, they'll open a four-game homestand on the ugly end of seen games away from U.S. Steel Yard. The RailCats were 2-5 in two strolls through Lincoln and Sioux Falls.
The 'Cats have fallen from two games behind Wichita for first in the Central Division on July 11 to six-and-a-half back in 11 games.
Today's starter, Stephen Hiscock, was activated prior to the game after spending almost two months on the inactive list. Hiscock's last game was May 27 against Sioux City -- today's opponent -- a six-inning no decision in which he allowed seven hits and two earned runs.
He was placed on the inactive list on May 28 with a sore shoulder. He spent most of his time there with reliever Estevan Uriegas, who was activated Sunday as starter Will Krout was released.
Krout, who was in his third season with the RailCats, was 2-5 with a 5.87 ERA in 13 starts. Last season, he was 4-5 with a 3.58 ERA as he converted from a reliever to a starter.
In a move to allow space on the roster for Hiscock, the RailCats traded Boomer Potts to Grand Prairie.
Sioux City Explorers (24-37)
CF Eliezer Mesa
SS Leugim Barroso
3B Bryan Pounds
1B Austin Gallagher
DH Luke Murton
RF Peter Barrows
LF Yusuke Inoguchi
2B Eddie Young
C Adrian Martinez
RHP Preston Olson (4-5, 6.04 ERA)
LF Adam Klein
CF Mike Massaro
1B Nick Liles
C Craig Maddox
DH Christian Vitters
RF Cristian GUerrero
3B Brian Kolb
SS Zac Mitchell
2B Danny Pulfer
RHP Stephen Hiscock (0-1, 3.93 ERA)
Eliezer Mesa, who has just 12 walks on the season, is walked on a full count by Hiscock. Leguim Barroso singles up the middle to move Mesa to second. Bryan Pounds flies out to left, keeping both base runners in position. Austin Gallagher is the first strikeout victim of Stephen Hiscock. Luke Murton also strikes out looking, he's not impressed and he tosses his helmet into the dugout. Mid 1st inning: Explorers 0, RailCats 0
Adam Klein grounds out to short. Mike Massaro strikes out swinging, and Nick Liles grounds out to third. End 1st inning: RailCats 0, Explorers 0
Peter Barrows singles into left field. Yusuke Inoguchi grounds into a 5-4-3 double play. Eddie Young strikes out looking, that's three for Stephen Hiscock. Mid 2nd inning: RailCats 0, Explorers 0
Craig Maddox strikes out looking. Of five Ks in the game, four have been looking. Christian Vitters grounds out to first. Cristian Guerrero grounds out to short. End 2nd inning: RailCats 0, Explorers 0
Adrian Martinez and Eliezer Mesa fly out to right. Leugim Barroso singles into right field, giving Cristian Guerrero his nightly workout in one inning. Bryan Pounds is out on a strikeout-throwout. Mid 3rd inning: RailCats 0, Explorers 0
Brian Kolb and Zac Mitchell fly out to center. Danny Pulfer singles to give the RailCats a base runner. Adam Klein singles with a hit on the second pitch (whaa?). Mike Massaro flies out to left. End 3rd inning: RailCats 0, Explorers 0
Austin Gallagher flies out to right, Luke Murton strikes out looking (again), and Peter Barrows flies out to right. Mid 4th inning: RailCats 0, Explorers 0
Nick Liles grounds out to short. Craig Maddox and Christian Vitters strike out swinging. End 4th inning: RailCats 0, Explorers 0
In a 12-pitch at-bat Yusuke Inoguchi walks, that'll bring movement in the bullpen. Eddie Young hits a bunt foul into the mitt of Nick Liles. Adrian Martinez strikes out swinging. On a pitch to Eliezer Mesa, Inoguchi steals second and takes third on an error throw on the caught stealing attempt. Eliezer Mesa strikes out looking, leaving Mesa on third. That's seven K for Hiscock. Mid 5th inning: RailCats 0, Explorers 0
Christian Guerrero grounds out to third. Brian Kolb singles into left. Kolb is out trying to steal second. Zac Mitchell flies out to left. End 5th inning: RailCats 0, Explorers 0
Stephen Hiscock is done after five innings, Taylor Sewitt replaces him. Leugim Barroso singles (he's 3-for-3). Bryan Pounds strikes out swinging. Austin Gallagher doubles to put runners on second and third. Luke Murton singles to score Barroso and Gallagher scores on a throwing error by shortstop Zac Mitchell. Murton is out at second on a fielder's choice that puts Peter Barrows on first. Yusuke Inoguchi grounds out to third. Mid 6th inning: Explorers 2, RailCats 0
Danny Pulfer opens with a single, he's 2-for-2. Adam Klein hits a bloop in front of the plate and is out at first. Mike Massaro doubles to score Pulfer. That's it for starter Preston Olson. Jimmer Kennedy replaces the righty. Nick Liles pops out to short. Craig Maddox is walked. On a wild pitch to Christian Vitters, the RailCats have two in scoring position. Christian Vitters singles to score Maddox and Massaro. Vitters is out trying to turn the single into a double. End 6th inning: RailCats 3, Explorers 2
Eddie Young flies out to center. Adrian Martinez singles up the middle. Eliezer Mesa also singles up the middle. That brings out Greg Tagert and Taylor Sewitt's night is over. Ian Durham is your new pitcher. Leugim Barroso hits into a first-pitch 6-4-3 double play. Mid 7th inning: RailCats 3, Explorers 2
Cristian Guerrero flies out to left, Brian Kolb strikes out swinging and Zac Mitchell flies out to right, pushing Peter Barrows near the warning track. End 7th inning: RailCats 3, Explorers 2
Bryan Pounds grounds out to third base. Austin Gallagher is hit by a pitch as he ducks trying to avoid it (breaking ball broke oddly). Luke Murton flies out to center. Peter Barrows grounds into a fielder's choice that takes out Austin Gallagher at second. Mid 8th inning: RailCats 3, Explorers 2
Danny Pulfer strikes out swinging. Adam Klein strikes out swinging, just one ball pitched to him. Mike Massaro singles on a ball that lives in the air before falling in shallow right field. Nick Liles strikes out swinging, is out on the throw to first. End 8th inning: RailCats 3, Explorers 2
Marco Gonzalez on to close for the RailCats. Gonzalez will face the bottom of the order. Yusuke Inoguchi strikes out looking. Eddie Young strikes out swinging, Gonzalez hits 94 on the outfield radar sign. Pinch hitter Sam Juda also strikes out swinging, Gonzalez fans the side. Final: RailCats 3, Explorers 2
AFTER THE GAME
GREG TAGERT: "Story of the night, Stephen Hiscock. Both Jake and he have done so much to get back to this point. The reward shows all that hard work. A little bit of patience and I'm sure a lot of anxiety on Stephen's part over the last ... we're talking almost two months since the last start. In Stephen's case, unfortunately with the broken hand in the offseason trying to accelerate things. It just shows what you're missing. Any time you can get that kind of performance, it's like acquiring a new player in a trade. It's even better and I think he's going to get that champ of the night award tonight, and deserved. It's even better than we could have hoped.
"Hopefully the best news will come tomorrow and the next day. We're going to give him, we're going into that six-man rotation a couple of times through. I'm not sure if Alain (Quijano) or a couple of the other pitchers are thrilled with that, but it'll give Stephen a little breather and he'll pitch again the last time against St. Paul. This way it'll give him a chance to make sure he's fine and recovered. The biggest test will be over the next couple days as we get to Wednesday and Thursday.
"(Stephen) pitched four innings in Lincoln the other day and faced some pretty good teammates: Babineau, Maddox, Vitters, Kolb, we put four guys in there who know how to hit and he handled them pretty well for four innings. Seventy-five pitches I think it was, I think Jake wanted no more than 80. ... I had 60 originally, and Jake and Stephen both convinced me it was on the short end. He was strong at the end and that was important. He got stronger as the game went on and I don't know if he was holding back a little bit at the beginning, you'd have to ask him that if there was any apprehension. He was strong in that fourth and fifth inning."
STEPHEN HISCOCK: "I probably was OK to come back, but I think this was for the best as the first time off the mound. I think it was good timing. Granted, I'd love to be back earlier, but I think it worked itself out.
"It's been tough. Pitching out and getting my arm back in shape is probably the easiest part. When they went on the road for two road trips it's tough being back here, because you listen to the game and it's not the same.
"I wanted to go out there and let these guys know I haven't just been hanging out. I wanted to help these guys.
"I definitely was a little fired up in the first inning, obviously walking the first batter was pretty unusual, I haven't done that pretty often. It didn't take long to lock in."