SIOUX CITY – The Lincoln Saltdogs continue to lead the way in American Association baseball’s tight Central Division race.
That won’t last for long, though, if the Saltdogs don’t snap out of a skid that saw them lose for the sixth time in their last seven games. And, this has followed a surge in which the Dogs went a stretch of 26 games with only five defeats.
For the third night in a row, the Sioux City Explorers couldn’t get the lone win they needed just to nab a share of first place in the standings. Meanwhile, the Kansas City T-Bones continued to be the team on the move.
Scott Carroll, a 32-year-old veteran righthander, tamed the Explorers for seven innings and the T-Bones bagged their fourth win in a row with a 6-2 triumph at Lewis and Clark Park.
While Lincoln fell 4-2 to Fargo-Moorhead, slipping to 24-17, Kansas City climbed to 23-17, just a half-game behind. Sioux City, now 22-17, remained just a game off the pace after striking out 15 times, four more than the previous season high for Manager Steve Montgomery’s free-swinging team.
Carroll, a starter much of the 2014 campaign for the Chicago White Sox, allowed just four hits while striking out 10, blanking the X’s for five innings before a two-run rally in the sixth. Two relievers added another five strikeouts while chalking up the last six outs for the guests
With two former major league pitchers squaring off for the second time in less than a week, the verdict once again showed the T-Bones and Carroll coming out on top over the X’s and Alex White.
This time, however, Carroll got a win and White took the loss, which was contrary to last Sunday’s 3-2 Kansas City win decided by a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth. Neither starter figured in that decision.
White, a former first-round draft pick out of the University of North Carolina, was pitching in the home park for only the second time. The first was his X’s debut May 19 in Game 2 of the season, when he left in the fourth inning with pain in the right elbow that has twice required Tommy John surgery.
Relieved to learn the discomfort stemmed from loose scar tissue, he was still sidelined nearly a month while undergoing therapy. So he is taking things a bit cautiously, performing perhaps better than the numbers are yet to indicate.
Five innings last Sunday saw him allow just one run to a capable Kansas City lineup. Six nights later, he went another five frames and had two fifth-inning errors by second baseman Joe Bennie permit two unearned runs follow four runs the righthander might easily have avoided.
A leadoff walk in the second inning came back to haunt White after he retired the next two batters. Making him pay were Patrick Brady and Leo Rojas, batting .236 and .241, rapping back-to-back RBI singles to open the scoring.
The Bones’ other two runs came on mistake pitches to Marcus Lemon and Rojas, who belted solo homers in the third and fourth innings, respectively.
It just wasn’t a good night for a Sioux City team that entered the game tied for second in batting in the 12-team American Association. The Explorers were limited to five hits, two of them by Jayce Ray, and averted a shutout only when Bennie and LeVon Washington followed a leadoff single to Ray to help plate their only two runs.