El Paso, Texas
After a hot start, the Chihuahuas have lost six of their last seven games.
That’s bad news for Chihuahuas fans, but Padres fans have a lot to be happy about. Cory Spangenberg got off to a slow start for San Diego and was demoted after 21 games, in which he hit .196 with two home runs in 56 at-bats. He led off Friday’s game against the Tacoma Rainiers with a single, raising his batting average to .315 in 57 at-bats.
With Carlos Asuaje hitting .190, Freddy Galvis hitting .223, and Chase Headley hitting a microscopic .115, Spangenberg’s path back to the big leagues is wide open. It is starting to look like Headley could be designated for assignment any day now and Carlos Asuaje still has minor league options. Spangenberg can play either second base or third base, but if Asuaje does get optioned, Spangenberg is only one route the Padres could go.
Luis Urias is waiting in the wings. The Padres appear to be in no rush to get his big league service time started, but with so many Padres struggling to hit, Urias has an opportunity to force their hand.
Speaking of forcing their hand, the Chihuahuas’ list of potential big league contributors is not at all limited to the infield. Franmil Reyes was named as the PCL player of the week and Prospect1500’s Triple-A player of the week after hitting .607 with eight home runs from April 30 to May 6.
Meanwhile, Hunter Renfroe (currently injured) and Manny Margot are hitting .200 and .198 respectively with a combined three home runs. Both players have a long leash due to the Padres’ commitment to the rebuild and their belief in their ability contribute at the big league level. However, no one can last forever while hitting beneath the Mendoza line.
El Paso lost two of the first three games of the series, allowing 18 runs in just the first two games. On Friday, they lost 8-3 to Tacoma.
Luis Perdomo turned in a solid outing in the third game of the series, paving the way for an 11-3 win on Thursday. Chris Huffman started the final game for the Chihuahuas, and only went 3.1 innings. In that time, he walked four, hit John Andreoli with a pitch, and gave up five earned runs.
The Rainiers got out to an early lead in the second inning when Kirk Nieuwenhuis drove the ball to center field. Dusty Coleman laid out in an attempt to catch the sinking line drive, but it got by him, allowing Chris Herrman to score from first on Nieuwenhuis’ triple. Ian Miller drove in Nieuwenhuis with a single shortly after that and the top of the second ended with the Rainiers up 2-0.
Javy Guerra drove in Allen Craig in the bottom of the 2nd, but that was the closest the Chihuahuas would get to catching up. Tacoma strung together a series of hits to score three runs in the fourth, and home runs by Taylor Motter and Gordon Beckham accounted for three more runs in the sixth.
The brightest part of the day for the Chihuahuas was a sharp, two-inning performance turned in by Trey Wingenter. Wingenter struck out three, while allowing no hits. Wingenter’s velocity seems to be down so far this year, and his strikeout rate is definitely down. But if he can learn to be effective with a 93 MPH fastball and regain that 98-100 MPH fastball, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Chihuahuas are heading to Reno to face Arizona’s affiliate, the Reno Aces. The series could be a preview of several NL West matchups for years to come, but for now it is chiefly an opportunity for El Paso to beat up on one of the worst teams in the PCL and regain their mojo after the recent stumble. Then they return home to face Kyle Tucker and the Fresno Grizzlies in a series that will test them against one of the best teams in the PCL.
The Padres’ organization released Chihuahuas pitcher Michael Mariot and placed Brett Kennedy on the 7-day disabled list. In corresponding moves, they promoted Dillon Overton and Jesse Scholtens from Double-A. It can be assumed that Scholtens will make his Triple-A debut in Reno.