It didn’t quite work out in Lincoln, Neb. Fargo didn’t care much for him. But it appears — at least at first glance — Winnipeg may be the fit newly-acquired pitcher Tony Butler was looking for.
"Whenever you take the field you have nerves but once the first pitch was thrown most of them went away," said Butler about his first start with the Goldeyes. "If you have a bad outing you can be sent home, so starting strong meant everything to me."
Signed only hours before Wednesday night’s game, Butler pitched 5.1 innings, striking out two and allowing one run in a 7-2 victory over the Sioux City Explorers, capping off the three-game series sweep at Shaw Park.
Butler started the season with the Lincoln Saltdogs and eventually ended up in Fargo for a small stint before being picked up by Winnipeg. Between his two previous clubs, Butler played in nine games, recording a 1-2 record with a 4.67 ERA.
"Things have been up and down for me this year," said Butler, who arrived in town on Sunday after driving 10 hours from Lincoln. "Some great moments, some not so good. I just haven’t been able to find my groove."
That groove was just fine for manager Rick Forney, who was happy to end a gruelling stretch that saw the Goldeyes play 30 games in 30 days, finishing with an 18-12 record during that time.
"18-12 is pretty good over that stretch considering what we’ve been through as a group," said Forney in his office after the game. "There’s a lot of guys that are hobbled out there that’s played probably the last two weeks when they needed a day or two off and not any of them are complaining of having to play."
Butler’s defensive shutdown was equally matched by the Goldeyes' offensive thrust.
Chris Roberson lead the way, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and 4 RBIs.
"That’s what veteran guys do. They provide offence and defence," said Forney. "(Roberson) was a man amongst boys out there today."
The Goldeyes got off to a strong start, putting five on the board after the first two innings. Chris Roberson hit his sixth home run of the season and Kyle Day nabbed his first over the wall in right. Luis Alen cashed on a double from Gabby Martinez while Prince Kendall’s single to right field scored David Nardowski and Dan Barbero.
The Explorers would put up their first run in the fourth only to be matched by a solo homer from Jon Weber in the bottom half of the inning.
The win improves the Goldeyes' record to 24-15, securing a three-game lead on the top of the North Division.
The Goldeyes will have a day off today before heading south of the border to begin a three-game weekend series against the Wichita Wingnuts.