They rode up to their dugout in Shaw Park on Thursday in a 1950s-style bus on "Turn Back the Clock Night" but the Winnipeg Goldeyes likely felt like they threw themselves under it after losing 10-1.
The Goldeyes (54-42) were out-hit 18-7 by the Sioux City Explorers (43-53) and scored their only run in the bottom of the seventh inning to drop a second straight game.
The Goldeyes host Sioux City tonight at 7 in the final game of the four-game series with Winnipeg lefty Chris Salamida (5-6, 3.86) and Sioux City's Jason Jarvis (7-8, 4.27) expected to start.
But, despite Thursday's misfortune, the Goldeyes could still clinch the wild-card playoff berth tonight if they win and the St. Paul Saints lose.
Winnipeg's magic number is two and the Fish have a three-game lead on St. Paul for the wild-card after St. Paul also lost on Thursday night.
Sioux City left-hander Richard Salazar pitched a complete game Thursday night.
Now Winnipeg needs to find a way to put the brakes on a two-game losing skid, find a stopper on the mound and get the offence revved up. The Goldeyes will be busy in their last four games of the American Association regular season.
The best thing for Thursday's crowd of 6,894 was they all went home with coupons for free pancakes after Winnipeg reliever Jack Van Leur struck out "pancake batter" Wally Backman, Jr. in his sixth at-bat.
The Goldeyes were being shut out 7-0 until the seventh when third baseman Amos Ramon's single drove in designated hitter Barbaro Canizares. But the Explorers came back in the eighth with three runs, including a two-run double from right-fielder Peter Barrows, to lead 10-1.
Though pitching has been a key part of Winnipeg's success so far this season, it has put the team in some trouble this week. Spot starter Zach Baldwin lasted only 2 1/3 innings in Wednesday's loss causing the team to burn through four relievers. Ace Walker (9-5) took Thursday's loss, lasting only 5 2/3 innings. Manager Rick Forney had hoped he would have pitched deeper into the game to save arms.
As a staff, the Goldeyes were second to Fargo (ERA of 3.91) heading into Thursday's action with an ERA of 3.98.
"That's not just because of the starters. It's because your bullpen is good too," said Forney, who has had 26 pitchers on his roster throughout this season. He has 11 right now, including four starters.
"Lately we've had to (make changes). We had to trade Dexter Carter and we couldn't afford to activate Nick Carr (released) and Craig James was hurt, so we had to make some changes or we weren't going to survive. The guys we've brought in are quality people."
Of the 19 players used as relief pitchers by the Goldeyes this season, Kaohi Downing is the only member of the bullpen who has been with the team since training camp.
"We take a great deal of pride in what we do because we know, if we do a good job, that gives us a better chance to win. That brings more fans into the stands and that helps us too," said Downing, who relieved Walker in the sixth inning Thursday. He has appeared in 36 games.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest