The Diamond- Lake Elsinore, California
Luis Patino dazzled on the mound, Gabriel Arias enjoyed a big night at the plate, and the Lake Elsinore Storm won their third consecutive game tonight at The Diamond by a score of 5-0 over the Visalia Rawhide. Patino, MLB.com’s 39th-ranked overall prospect, was facing a familiar foe: in his last start precisely a week earlier, he threw six innings of two-run ball versus the Rawhide in an away game.
His outing tonight was similar, save for the runs. This time around versus Visalia, the 19-year-old right-hander twirled a gem, tossing 6 1/3 scoreless frames while scattering five hits and notching seven strikeouts.
Patino began his start in an efficient manner. He retired the first six batters he faced in order, including a groundout to first from the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Blake Swihart, who is down with the Rawhide from the Major League club on a rehab assignment. Patino’s fastball consistently sat at 95 MPH but reached a peak of 97 MPH at times in the middle of the game.
The first hit he allowed came in the top of the third — a double to centerfield from shortstop Jancarlos Cintron, who was thrown out at third base attempting to stretch his extra-base hit into a triple by Storm centerfielder Jeisson Rosario. After the double, Patino immediately settled back in, ending the inning by inducing a strikeout and a ground out.
While Patino was busy keeping the Rawhide offense quiet, his offense was busy giving him a lead to work with.
The action began for the Lake Elsinore offense with a leadoff single in the bottom of the third inning from right fielder Jack Suwinski. Suwinski advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from second baseman Xavier Edwards, and the Storm had their first runner in scoring position of the evening. One pitch later, third baseman Eguy Rosario lined a ground ball up the middle to give Lake Elsinore a 1-0 lead.
After Patino threw a scoreless top of the fourth inning, the Storm added on in the bottom of the frame, this time with a towering solo home run to deep right field from shortstop Gabriel Arias that cleared the 30-foot-high right-field wall by several feet, moving the score to 2-0 in favor of Lake Elsinore.
Patino ran into his first hint of trouble in the top of the fifth. After setting down the first two Visalia batters of the inning by way of a flyout and a strikeout, he surrendered two singles, one to left field, and one to right field. A wild pitch advanced the runners into scoring position, and with one out, the Rawhide were threatening for the first time in the game. A walk loaded the bases, and Patino was forced to bear down and work his way out of a jam, adding an element of adversity to an otherwise uneventful start for the young Columbian and bringing Lake Elsinore Storm pitching coach Pete Zamora out to the mound for a quick visit. After the game, Zamora described his message to his young pitcher during the inning.
“He had himself a lead,” Zamora said. “I said, ‘There’s no reason to panic here, get right after these guys.’ Every once in awhile he’ll fool around a little bit, try to get a little cute with his stuff when he’s throwing 95-98 miles an hour. I told him to get back on the attack, and show these guys who you are.”
Patiño through 5: 3H 6 K 2BB 0 ER. His fastball sat consistently at 95 for his first 3 innings, but ratcheted up to 97(!) in this clip a couple times at the end of the 4th. He now has a 2-0 lead over the Rawhide. pic.twitter.com/xP1JdQGNJI
— Anderson Haigler (@ahaigler5) July 21, 2019
Patino took the conversation to heart. In the following at-bat, he got centerfielder Eduardo Diaz to fly out to end the inning without incident. In the Storm half of the fifth, Arias’ continued his productive night on offense, adding to the Lake Elsinore lead with a line-drive single to left field that plated Rosario and designated hitter Esteury Ruiz after they both walked to open the inning, making the score 4-0 in favor of Lake Elsinore.
With a newly-expanded, 4-0 lead to begin the sixth, Patino set down the side in order, inducing a pop-out, a ground out, and a strikeout. He would return to the mound for the seventh inning, starting things off solidly with a ground ball out, but again found himself in a jam as the inning progressed. Back-to-back singles eventually brought an end to Patino’s evening, as Lake Elsinore manager Tony Tarasco went to right-hander Nick Kuzia out of the bullpen to relieve his starter and attempt to quell Visalia’s offensive outburst. Kuzia proceeded to do just that, successfully working his way out of trouble with a strikeout and a fly out to extinguish the Rawhide rally and preserve an impressive final line for Patino: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 7 K, 2 BB, and eventually, a win. The start lowered Patino’s ERA to 2.93 and moved his record to 5-8 on the year. Zamora discussed his overall impressions of Patino’s Friday-night start once the game had concluded, noting that he is impressed with the progress he has made so far his season.
“He’s made some tremendous strides from the beginning of the year,” Zamora said. “He’s just attacking hitters, and he’s showing a little more savvy than a 19-year-old should be able to do. So, we’ve talked a lot about just pitching, not necessarily mechanics or anything like that.”
Zamora added that a desire to advance to the next level might be fueling Patino’s recent success. “He wants to move up,” Zamora said. “And he’s a prospect, of course, but we’ve sold to him to be where your feet are, and if you’re here, you’re going to dominate here, and he’s really bought in. The last three or four (starts) he’s really been dominant, including the Futures Game, so I’m really happy for him. That was quintessential Luis Patino right there, going after hitters and showing you what he’s got.”
In the bottom of the seventh, catcher Luis Campusano further expanded the Lake Elsinore lead, providing an additional insurance run with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Edwards.
Kuzia went on to throw a second scoreless inning in relief before handing the ball off to righty Seth Blair, who pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts to seal a 5-0 victory for the Storm. The win marks Lake Elsinore’s third straight, and moves their overall record to 51-47. They return to action tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. to continue their series against the Rawhide.