GARY | The RailCats enter today's game with a magic number of 9 (total games in the season, plus 1, minus RailCats wins, minus opponents' losses) and two teams behind them in the wild card race.
With a Lincoln loss and a Winnipeg win on Tuesday, the RailCats hold a 2 1/2 game lead in the wild card race and the Saltdogs and Goldeyes are tied for second.
The RailCats don't face either team the remainder of the season, and neither team plays each other. Each team must face their own division's leader as Winnipeg ends the regular season against the North Division's No. 1 Fargo-Moorhead and the Saltdogs play the Central's No. 1 Wichita next week.
The 'Cats, meanwhile, end their season against St. Paul, Kansas City and El Paso. As much as any game can go any direction, the RailCats have a combined 18-5 record against those three teams this season.
Before that, the 'Cats have another two games against Wichita, whose magic number is two. The RailCats are 7-4 against the Wingnuts this season, guaranteed to finish with a winning record against the league's best team.
Wichita Wingnuts (58-30)
SS Ryan Khoury
2B Jake Kahaulelio
DH John Rodriguez
1B CJ Ziegler
CF Brent Clevlen
3B Abel Nieves
C Cole Armstrong
RF David Amberson
LF Jared McDonald
RHP Junior Guerra (8-4, 3.22 ERA)
LF Adam Klein
DH Mike Massaro
3B Brian Kolb
C Craig Maddox
1B Reid Fronk
RF Cristian Guerrero
CF Drew Martinez
SS Zac Mitchell
2B Nick Liles
RHP Joe Zeller (RailCats Debut, 8-7, 3.23 ERA w/Frontier League Greys)
The late-coming corresponding move that brings Zeller to the roster is to move Marco Gonzalez to the inactive list, retroactive to Aug. 5. He'll be available to play as early as Sept. 4, when the RailCats would be in the postseason. Alain Quijano was then bumped to the disabled list retroactive to Saturday. His last start was Friday, when he was hit in the hand with a line drive.
The RailCats were waiting to make a move until an MRI was read and the results were relayed to the coaching staff.
Maddox will catch the knuckleball throwing Zeller tonight because he most recently caught a knuckleballer in the Atlanta Braves organization. Ryan Babineau hasn't caught a knuckleball thrower since college at UCLA.
Ryan Khoury is walked. On a pitch to Jake Kahaulelio, Khoury steals second. On a wild pitch, Khoury takes third easily. Maddox is working on the job training to see how hard it is to catch Zeller. Kahaulelio strikes out. First run scores on a wild pitch as Khoury practically walks home as the ball careens into the RailCats dugout. John Rodriguez grounds out to short. CJ Ziegler hits a homer to the left field corner; that's his 27th to tie the American Association record. Brent Clevlen doubles into straight away center. Clevlen takes third base on a passed ball. Abel Nieves hits to short, the ball is booted by Zac Mitchell and Clevlen scores the unearned run. Nieves is picked off at first base. Mid 1st inning: Wichita 3, RailCats 0
Adam Klein singles up the middle to extend his home on-base streak to 31 games. Mike Massaro flies out to left-center, a ball caught on the run. Brian Kolb grounds into a double play. End 1st inning: Wichita 3, RailCats 0
Cole Armstrong flies out to right field. David Amberson is hit by a pitch. Jared McDonald flies out to right field. On a pitch to Ryan Khoury, Amberson steals second. Khoury strikes out swinging. Mid 2nd inning: Wichita 3, RailCats 0
Craig Maddox strikes out swinging. Reid Fronk strikes out looking. Junior Guerra has thrown six pitches. Cristian Guerrero flies out to center. End 2nd inning: Wichita 3, RailCats 0
Jake Kahaulelio singles to short, a one hopper that is bobbled by Mitchell at short. John Rodriguez singles into shallow right, Kahaulelio runs to third and Rodriguez stands on second as the RailCats try to take out Kahaulelio, but the throw reaches after Kahaulelio slides. CJ Ziegler triples into center, the ball is lost in the lights by Drew Martinez. Kahaulelio and Rodriguez score. That was the first career triple by Ziegler. Brent Clevlen hits a double into very shallow center, Liles calls for it, the ball drifts and he misses completely. Abel Nieves is walked on a 3-2 pitch. Cole Armstrong strikes out swinging, Nieves and Clevlen execute a double steal. David Amberson grounds out to short, Clevlen scores. Jared McDonald strikes out swinging and is out at first on the throw. Zeller has 4 K through 3 innings. Mid 3rd inning: Wingnuts 7, RailCats 0
Drew Martinez strikes out swinging. Zac Mitchell strikes out swinging, that's 4K for Junior Guerra. With a strikeout swinging to Nick Liles, Guerra strikes out the side. End 3rd inning: Wingnuts 7, RailCats 0
Ryan Khoury is walked on five pitches. Jake Kahaulelio flies out to center. John Rodriguez singles and that'll be it for Joe Zeller. Taylor Sewitt relieves Zeller, whose line is extensive: 3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO, 2 WP, 1 HB, 76 pitches, 42 strikes. A ball hit by CJ Ziegler is badly fielded by Nick Liles and Ziegler reaches on an error to load the bases. Brent Clevlen is walked to score Khoury. Abel Nieves grounds into a double play. Mid 4th inning: Wingnuts 8, RailCats 0
Adam Klein strikes out, that four in a row for Guerra and six in the game. Make that five straight for Guerra as Mike Massaro fans looking. Brian Kolb singles into shallow right. Craig Maddox also singles. Reid Fronk finds a hole between first and second to score Kolb. Cristian Guerrero hits a ball hard to short, where it would have gone right through were it not for good field positioning by Wichita; Fronk is out at second. End 4th inning: Wingnuts 8, RailCats 1
Cole Armstrong is walked. David Amberson strikes out. Jared McDonald hits an infield single. Ryan Khoury flies out to right-center, a throw by Cristian Guerrero in right keeps Armstrong at second base. Jake Kahaulelio is walked to load the bases. John Rodriguez strikes out on three pitches. Mid 5th inning: Wingnuts 8, RailCats 1
Drew Martinez singles to open the inning. Zac Mitchell walks to put two on. Nick Liles grounds to third taking out Martinez on the force out. The throw to first for the double play tips off the top of CJ Ziegler's glove. Adam Klein grounds into a double play. End 5th inning: Wingnuts 8, RailCats 1
CJ Ziegler grounds back to the mound. Brent Clevlen doubles to right, his third double of the night. Abel Nieves doubles to score Clevlen. Cole Armstrong singles. Single by David Amberson scores Nieves. Jared McDonald flies out to right field. Ryan Khoury was the only Wichita batter without a hit until he singled up the middle to load the bases. Walk to Jake Kahaulelio with the bases loaded scores Armstrong. John Rodriguez flies out to left. Mid 6th inning: Wingnuts 11, RailCats 1
Defensive changes: Madison Beaird playing left, Waylen Sing Show in Center, Jared McDonald from left to third and Abel Nieves from third to second. Mike Massaro singles into right. Brian Kolb doubles home Mike Massaro. Craig Maddox hits a ground rule double as the ball bounces from the ground into the batters eye and behind the net, scoring Brian Kolb. Reid Fronk strikes out swinging. Wild pitch to Cristian Guerrero moves Maddox to third. Junior Guerra strikes out Cristian Guerrero as his ninth K of the game. Drew Martinez singles. Zac Mitchell grounds to short, taking out Martinez at second. End 6th inning: Wingnuts 11, RailCats 4
Defensive changes: Ryan Babineau in left for Adam Klein; Christian Vitters at third for Brian Kolb; Ryan Brockett at short for Zac Mitchell. CJ Ziegler is walked. Waylen Sing Chow singles into right. Abel Nieves flies out to right. Cole Armstrong singles to right center. David Amberson singles up the middle to score Ziegler. Bases-clearing double by Jared McDonald scores Sing Chow, Armstrong and Amberson. Ryan Khoury singles to move McDonald to third. There's a meeting on the mound, but no movement in the pen. Madison Beaird is walked. John Rodriguez flies out to right, scoring McDonald on the sac fly. The Wingnuts have batted around and messed with my score card. CJ Ziegler doubles off the wall in left field, scoring Khoury (he's a single away from the cycle). Waylen Sing Chow pops out foul to Maddox. Mid 7th inning: Wichita 17, RailCats 4
New Wichita pitcher is Daniel Bennett, Junior Guerra leaves with 9 Ks and 96 pitches. The new Wingnuts catcher is former RailCats spring training player Johnny Bowden. Nick Liles grounds out to third. Ryan Babineau singles into shallow right. Mike Massaro singles into right, moving Babineau to second. Christian Vitters hits an infield single to load the bases. Craig Maddox hits a fielder's choice to short, scoring Babineau and taking out Vitters at second. Runners are on the corners. Reid Fronk grounds out to first. End 7th inning: Wichita 17, RailCats 5
New RailCats pitcher is Chuck Fontana. Taylor Sewitt threw 3 2/3 innings of relief, 12 hits, nine runs, six walks, two strikeouts, the reliever had 113 pitches, 58 for strikes. Fontana strikes out Abel Nieves. Johnny Bowden flies out to right field. Ground ball double by David Amberson puts a runner on. Jared McDonald is walked and Amberson reaches third on a wild pitch. Ryan Khoury flies out to left. Mid 8th inning: Wichita 17, RailCats 5
New pitcher is Lincoln Holdzkolm. Cristian Guerrero grounds out to third. Drew Martinez singles into left. Ryan Brockett grounds into a double play. End 8th inning: Wichita 17, RailCats 5
Madison Beaird doubles into the left field corner. John Rodriguez doubles to score Beaird. CJ Ziegler singles to hit for the cycle. That's the first cycle in Wingnuts history, according to Wichita radio. Waylen Sing Chow flies out to center. Abel Nieves flies out to right and Ziegler is off the bag so a throw to first for double play ends the inning. Mid 9th inning: Wingnuts 18, RailCats 5.
Nick Liles flies out to shallow right. Ryan Babineau lines out to second. Mike Massaro flies out to right. FINAL: Wingnuts 18, RailCats 5