Minor League notes: Wichita draws first blood

Behind outstanding pitching, the Wichita Wranglers on Tuesday night claimed an 11-inning, 2-1 victory over the Tulsa Drillers, taking the first game of the best-of-five series in the first round of the Texas League Playoffs. The Wranglers trailed until the ninth inning, when a succession of singles plated the tying run and forced the game into extra frames.


Wranglers' ace Zack Greinke got the start and pitched beautifully, tossing six innings while allowing just five hits and one run. However, as good as his start was, he was outdueled by Drillers' starter Juan Morillo, who threw seven shutout innings while striking out ten Wrangler hitters. Nevertheless, the game was decided by the bullpens, and Wichita's relief corps contributed five scoreless innings to secure the victory while the Drillers' pen coughed up the lead.

The Wrangler offense had a rough time dealing with Morillo's high-90s fastball, and the first four hitters in the lineup went a combined 3-for-19 with eight strikeouts. However, second baseman Donnie Murphy (3-for-5) and first baseman Kila Kaaihue (2-for-4) picked up the slack, and shortstop Angel Sanchez drove in both of Wichita's runs, including the game-winner in the 11th inning.

The two teams will go at it again on Wednesday evening in Tulsa, when the Wranglers' Tyler Lumsden (2-1, 3.06) will take the mound against Marc Kaiser (10-10, 4.15). The two pitchers faced each other last week on August 31, when Lumsden prevailed in a 3-1 victory. In that game, Kaiser tossed eight innings while allowing just two earned runs, so this could be a tough test for Wichita.

Other minor league notes:

  • Billy Butler and Team USA prevailed over Cuba in the championship game of the Olympic qualifier in Havana, and Butler should rejoin the Wranglers in time for game 3 of the Wichita/Tulsa series. In the tournament, Butler went 10-for-32 (.313) with two home runs, eight RBIs, and a .563 SLG pct.

  • Although the Royals' minor league affiliates are assured of compiling a cumulative losing record this season (As of September 5, the cumulative record stands at 342-348 with just two Idaho Falls regular season games remaining), the organization has clearly made strides in the past year. Last season, the cumulative record was 348-348, but only one team – the High Desert Mavericks – qualified for postseason play, and only two teams finished the season with winning records.

    This year, three Royals' affiliates have qualified for postseason play, and four of the six affiliates – Wichita, High Desert, Idaho Falls, and Arizona – can boast winning records. In fact, the cumulative losing record can be attributed almost solely to an abnormally poor Omaha Royals team, which finished the season with a dismal 53-91 record. Omaha will likely see vast improvement next season, as many of the young prospects in Wichita figure to graduate to Triple-A, and it will be interesting to see how the talent is dispersed among the other affiliates. Regardless, this season's improvement can only be taken as an encouraging sign that the organization just might be headed in the right direction.

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