Chihuahuas Report: Injuries, Missed Chances Sink El Paso

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Credit: Nick Lee/ EVT Sports

Tacoma, Washington

It was a sellout crowd of 7,201 at Cheney Stadium, home of the Tacoma Rainiers, on a warm Tuesday night. There were many families in the crowd, perhaps for one last fun summer evening out before school starts again.

Jordan Lyles got the rock for the Chihuahuas. On a day where Padres minor league pitchers got shelled, Lyles had a solid outing. He went 5.2 innings, only walking one  batter and allowing just one run on a Dan Vogelbach solo shot.

Sam Gaviglio got the nod for the Rainiers. He has started 12 games for the big league club, the Seattle Mariners, in 2017, earning a 4.62 ERA. In his 11th game with Tacoma, he went five innings. He allowed two runs, but only one was earned thanks to a throwing error by catcher Mike Marjama on Franchy Cordero’s stolen base. He struck out six on the night.

Hunter Renfroe had a less flashy second game with El Paso. He struck out in his first two at bats, getting fooled by two off-speed pitches. He worked a walk in his third at bat (which is a good sign) reaching third base when the Chihuahuas loaded the bases with no one out. Unfortunately, the “strikeout” version of Ryan Schimpf showed up. He fanned and then Jose Rodon grounded into a double play, leaving El Paso with no runs, and even worse was that Rondon went to the ground running out the ball.

Rondon looked to have rolled his ankle or knee trying to stretch to first, ala Bryce Harper. He left the game under his own power, but his status is uncertain moving forward. He had just returned from a rehab stint due to a previous injury. Rondon was replaced by Nick Buss at shortstop.

The shortstop was not the first injury the Chihuahuas suffered. Christian Villanueva got drilled in the forearm in his first at bat and crumpled to the ground. He left the game as well and was replaced by Chase d’Arnaud. El Paso was twice forced to move multiple players to new positions.

Renfroe lined a double down the left field line in the 8th. On d’Arnaud’s single, Renfroe tried to score and was gunned down by a nice throw from Zach Shank in left. A strikeout and a groundout later, El Paso squandered yet another chance. Renfroe finished the night 1-3 with a walk and said double. He is 4-8 since joining El Paso.

Other Chihuahua standouts were Diego Goris, who was 2 -4 with a run scored, and Rafael Ortega, who added three singles, with a stolen base and run scored. Rondon also had an RBI double before his injury.

Jose Valdez allowed the Rainiers to take a 3-2 lead in the 7th when he served up a two-run homer to Joey Wong, who was making his Rainiers debut after being called up from Double-A. He is no slouch, as he is 29 years old with over 750 minor league games under his belt. His blast sailed into the warm Pacific Northwest night, deep into right field, sending the big crowd into a frenzy.

The Rainiers held on when Jeanmar Gomez shut things down in the ninth to preserve a Tacoma 3-2 victory. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he has pitched eight years in the major leagues and saved 37 games for the Phillies in 2016.

The Chihuahuas are now 64-66 and a game behind Salt Lake. El Paso comes home to face Sacramento, starting Thursday.

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