AMARILLO, Tex.—After two straight come-from-behind wins, the Winnipeg Goldeyes decided to get the job done early here on Sunday night.
The Goldeyes scored four runs in the first inning en route to a 9-3 win over the Amarillo Sox in the Amarillo National Bank Sox Stadium in front of a crowd of 3,946 fans. After a pair of games nearly four hours long, this one ended in two hours and 29 minutes.
With the win, Winnipeg swept its American Association season-opening series after wins of 14-9 and 4-3 here on Friday and Saturday.
"It’s always good to jump out with a good lead, it takes a lot of pressure off the pitcher and the manager and the coaching staff and gives your bullpen a sigh of relief," said Goldeyes designated hitter Jon Weber who served as the designated hitter. He had three hits, two runs scored and two RBI.
After the game, the Goldeyes boarded the bus for a 10-hour ride to Laredo, Texas where the Winnipeg will meet the Laredo Lemurs on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the first of three games there. The Lemurs are new to the American Association and have a new $18-million ball park. Southpaw Fabian Williamson is expected to be Winnipeg’s starter.
"Winning the first series, we've started off on the right foot," said Jon Weber. "We know we're going to have our ups and downs and hopefully we can weather the storm as the season goes a long and at the end, get hot again. "
Right-handed pitcher Matt Rusch recorded the win for Winnipeg as he threw 5 1/3 innings allowing four hits, one run and striking out three. The Goldeyes, who had used up much of their bullpen in the previous two games, got solid performances from Kaohi Downing and Texas native Chris Kaminski who closed it down in the ninth.
"I think our bullpen is lights-out, I think our pitching staff is excellent and we can hit the ball a little bit so I think we’ll be alright," Weber said.
Winnipeg catcher Luis Alen has a three-game hitting streak with extra-base hits as he hit a fifth-inning double and scored a run while two runs were scored by each of first baseman Chris Roberson and outfielder Ridge Carpenter, who got his first start of the season in left field.
To open Sunday’s game, the Goldeyes saw their first three batters get aboard on singles and all three scored, along with catcher Luis Alen. Two runs were scored on bases-loaded walks along with a two-RBI single by Amos Ramon.
Winnipeg went up 5-0 in the fourth on an RBI double by shortstop Price Kendall.
Amarillo got on the scoreboard in the fourth inning with an unearned run to trail 5-1. Sox designated hitter Chuck Lofgren scored after getting on base on an error to Winnipeg centre-fielder Chris Roberson.
In the sixth, Weber belted a two-out RBI single to lift Winnipeg to a 6-1 lead.
The Sox staged a seventh-inning comeback attempt scoring two runs. Pitcher Kaohi Downing came in with bases loaded. The Sox scored runs on a sacrifice fly that scored third baseman Garrett Rau and then centre fielder Harrison Kain after a stolen base and a wild pitch.
The Goldeyes led 6-3 coming into the eighth inning where they picked up three runs. A sacrifice fly by Price Kendall sent Amos Ramon home and, with two outs, Weber hit an RBI double and Yurendell de Caster an RBI single.
In the game, the Sox had two coaches ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes as manager John Harris was thrown in the top of the third and pitching coach Cory Domel was tossed in the top of the eighth.
Domel entertained the crowd by trying to kick dirt on home plate to show his distain, when he was blocked by umpires, he bent down and used his hands to scrape the dirt onto home plate. Before play resumed, the umpires refused to sweep off the plate and were booed by the crowd when a Sox bat girl had to use a towel to clean it.
- Pitcher Chuck Lofgren, Amarillo’s starting pitcher in Friday’s season opener, served as the Sox designated hitter on Sunday evening.
- Rookie outfielder Carpenter got his first start of the season Sunday in left field as Kyle Day, who "tweaked" hamstring in Saturday’s 4-3 win, sat out.
- Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said the team will operate with a four-man starting pitching rotation at this time. This means Ace Walker, the opening-day starter, will get the call again Tuesday in Laredo and Chris Salamida on Wednesday in a 10 a.m. start.
- Forney said this is a workable since the team burned through relievers in the three games against the Sox while both Walker (three innings) and Salamida (four innings) saw limited work in their first starts.
- Alen has a three-game hitting streak going to start the season and is the only Goldeyes player to have extra base hits in each of the first three games.