Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Butler has fine start on Fish mound

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IT didn't quite work out in Lincoln. Fargo didn't care much for him. But it appears -- at least at first glance -- that Winnipeg may be the fit that newly acquired pitcher Tony Butler was looking for.

Signed only hours before Wednesday's night game, Butler pitched 5 1/3 innings, striking out two and allowing one run in a 7-2 victory over the Sioux City Explorers, capping off the series sweep at Shaw Park.

"Whenever you take the field you have nerves, but once the first pitch was thrown, most of them went away," Butler said of his first start with the Goldeyes. "If you have a bad outing, you can be sent home, so starting strong meant everything to me."

Butler started the season with the Lincoln Saltdogs and would eventually end 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 Sunday after driving 10 hours from Lincoln. "Some great moments, some not so good. I just haven't been able to find my groove."

But none of that mattered Wedneday night as he retired eight of his first 10 batters, allowing his first hit in the fourth inning on a single from Explorers catcher Ray Serrano.

For manager Rick Forney, it was the perfect way 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," Forney said 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 led the way, going 3-4 with two home runs and four RBI. But it may have been a defensive play from the Goldeyes centre fielder that stuck out most. In the top of the eighth inning, with batters on first and second, Explorers catcher Ray Serrano popped a shot just over the second-baseman's head, only to be caught by Roberson in a highlight reel fashion. The play put an end to any possible comeback for the explorers.

"That's what veteran guys do. They provide offence and defence," said Forney.

The win improves the Goldeyes record to 24-15, securing a three-game lead on the top of the North Division.

They will have a day off today before heading south for a three-game weekend series against the Wichita Wingnuts.

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca twitter: @jeffkhamilton

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 28, 2012 C6

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