Capping a Momentous Week
Missions slugger Tyler Saladino on Thursday night belted a home run that might have approached a record for distance Wolff Stadium.
Tracked as a 467-foot blast, it soared over the green batters' eye in straight-away center, landing somewhere beyond the fence, where it likely bounded toward the far eastern reaches of the stadium property.
Even with a strong wind blowing out toward the fences, it was an impressive clout. But was it as far as the 29-year-old Californian had ever hit a baseball?
"Probably," the soft-spoken Saladino said later. "I don't know. It was a good one."
In the wake of a 5-4 victory over the New Orleans Baby Cakes, Saladino also discussed the coincidence of his prodigious home run coming at the end of a momentous week.
Actually, the homer was sort of anti-climactic, considering that his girlfriend, Hannah Chartier, agreed only a few days earlier to marry him.
It all unfolded on Monday, in the hours following a day game against the Round Rock Express.
The couple drove downtown, and Saladino popped the question outside of San Fernando Cathedral.
"It was supposed to be rainy that whole day," he said. "It was overcast almost the whole time. Just about the time (that I proposed), it cleared up, and the sun came out. It turned into a very special evening."
Later, most of his teammates attended an engagement celebration for the couple at Saladino's house.
"It was really special," Saladino said. "I think just about everyone was there."
A three-home run day
Playing as the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio, Mauricio Dubon, David Freitas and Saladino all homered on a windy and rainy night against New Orleans.
The power surge gave the Chanclas/Missions a 2-1 lead in the series and backed the pitching of 23-year-old starter Thomas Jankins, who worked six innings to notch his second victory of the season.
After Saladino's two-run shot to center field in the fifth inning, the Chanclas led, 5-2.
But the Baby Cakes were far from out of it, as they cranked solo homers against the Missions' bullpen in the eighth and ninth, the first one by Austin Dean and the second by Gabriel Guerrero.
On the last play of the game, Monte Harrison drove a ball to the warning track in right field, where it was caught by Tyrone Taylor.
As a result, Jankins not only left the stadium feeling good about his performance (four hits, two runs, no earned runs), but he also secured his first victory since his debut in Triple-A for the Missions on April 28.
Called up from the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers, he's tried to make the best of his promotion.
"It's been a growing process for me," Jankins said. "There's been some good, some bad. It's a learning process every time I go out there. The hitters are very mature here. They don't chase too much.
"So, for me, it's about being aggressive in the (strike) zone (and) getting fielders involved with some early contact."
No lead is safe
Missions manager Rick Sweet applauded the Baby Cakes for making a game of it with the two late home runs.
"They're a good ball club," Sweet said. "They're not going to lay down. They're going to come right back at you, and they did."
Sweet said he wasn't worried about Jankins during the pitcher's last two starts, when he gave up a combined 10 earned runs in nine innings.
"His outings have been solid," Sweet said. "You know, you don't come into this league for the first time and just dominate. He's done a good job for us. I've been very pleased with his outings."
Sanchez earns another start
Sweet said reliever Miguel Sanchez would start the homestand's finale on Friday night against New Orleans.
It will be Sanchez's second straight start after he pitched 3.1 scoreless innings Sunday afternoon against Round Rock.
The 6-foot-3 native of the Dominican Republic has had only three starts in 92 appearances during a three-plus year professional career.
Rotation still in flux
Sweet downplayed the idea that Sanchez might be an option to become a regular member of the starting rotation.
"I don't think so," he said. "I don't think that's what the organization thinks he's going to do. Remember, we're here for development ... I don't see that long term, although they could change their mind, and they might do that."
The Missions' rotation has been in flux since midway through last month when the Milwaukee Brewers started calling players up. Three have been promoted, including Adrian Houser, Burch Smith and Aaron Wilkerson.
Wilkerson and one-time Brewers' ace Jimmy Nelson remain in San Antonio at the moment on rehabilitation assignment.
Bubba Derby and Zack Brown are the only two members of the team's opening-week starting rotation that have been with the ball club throughout the first five weeks.
Stokes on the mend
Troy Stokes, Jr., could be back in the starting lineup Friday, Sweet said. The Missions' opening-day starter in left field has been on the injured list for much of the season, lately with muscle cramping around his hamstrings.
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Pacific Coast League Stories from May 10, 2019
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