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Offense Struggles in Loss to Cardinals

June 18, 2019 - Texas League (TL) - Midland RockHounds News Release

The RockHounds saw their first half title hopes slip away Monday night in a 3-0 loss to the Springfield Cardinals at Security Bank Ballpark.

A brilliant Double-A debut from pitcher Alex Fagalde was the difference as the right-hander went eight scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk, retiring 23 of the 26 batters he faced. Fagalde's gem was back by a key defensive play in the early going before the Cardinals broke a scoreless tie with a three-run seventh inning.

Luis Barrera singled opening the fourth inning when Springfield center fielder Dylan Carlson narrowly missed attempting a sliding catch. On the next pitch, Mikey White sent a line drive to left-center but, this time, Carlson made the play with a tremendous, diving grab. If the ball had gotten past him, the 'Hounds would have had, at the very least, runners at second and third with no outs or a 1-0 lead with one man on. Instead, the key defensive play helped Fagalde escape his only real jam of the night and the game remained scoreless.

RockHounds starter Kyle Friedrichs pitched six scoreless frames before the Cardinals got to him in the seventh. Johan Mieses led off with a single and scored the game's first run on Zach Kirtley's double to center, a strong drive into the wind. Kirtley advanced to third on the throw from the outfield and scored on the next pitch when Chase Pinder (see below) sent a flair single into shallow left field against a drawn-in infield. Alberto Triunfel (see below) then added more insurance with a tremendous at-bat, doubling into the left field corner on the 10th pitch of the AB.

Fagalde, the St. Louis Cardinals' 30th round draft choice in 2017 (University of California, Riverside), made his Double-A debut after opening the season with the Palm Beach Cardinals of the (Advanced-A) Florida State League (6-3, 1.99 ERA). He largely pitched to contact, facing just one batter over the minimum through six innings without benefit of a strikeout. He fanned two batters in the seventh and two more in the eighth before leaving the game. Junior Fernandez closed the door in the ninth to earn his fifth save in six opportunities.

The loss was just the RockHounds' fourth in their last 13 games but it proved to be a very costly defeat.

The First Half In the Books

Amarillo (34-34) finished a half-game ahead of the RockHounds (34-35) and a game-and-a-half up on Frisco and Corpus Christi (both 33-36).

Frisco led the vast majority of the half but struggled down the stretch. The RoughRiders, who were 23-17 on May 16, went 10-19 in their last 29 games.

This race was remarkably tight. Corpus Christi was the first team eliminated and that was on the next-to-last day of the half. When the RockHounds left the diamond Monday, despite the loss, there were three scenarios in play with just two games still going on. The 'Hounds still would have won the half in scenario and would have tied Frisco in another. The other, of course, was Amarillo claiming the title with a win and the Sod Poodles erased a 2-0 deficit with eight unanswered runs to defeat the NW Arkansas Naturals, 8-2, at Springdale, Arkansas.

The second half begins with the four teams in the South separated by a game-and-a-half. The second half is a brand new, completely separate, pennant race, but the overall records could come into play in the event of an Amarillo sweep of both half-seasons (in that case the club with the next-best overall season record becomes the wild card playoff entry).

Notables

Luis Barrera (2-for-4) extended his on-base streak to 18 (31-79, .392) and has hits in 12-of-13 games (23-61, .377).

Dairon Blanco (1-for-3) has hits in six straight games (9-25, .360) with four runs, a double, a HR and six RBI.

Tyler Ramirez (0-for-3, walk) has reached base in each of his 13 games since joining the RockHounds from (AAA) Las Vegas.

With the exception of those three hitters, Alex Fagalde's brilliant night was rough on streaks. Greg Deichmann lost an eight-game hit streak ... Kevin Merrell lost a seven-gamer and Edwin Diaz a five-gamer.

Chase Pinder is the younger brother of former RockHound Chad, now with the Oakland A's (Chad was a member of the 'Hounds' 2015 championship and was named Texas League Player of the Year). Chase, who was selected by St. Louis in the seventh round of the 2017 draft out of Clemson University, was promoted from the Palm Beach Cardinals just four days ago (June 14) and was playing in only his third AA game.

Springfield infielder Alfredo Triunfel is hitting just .204 for the Cardinals, but don't tell that to the RockHounds. He has played in three of the four games between the Cardinals and 'Hounds and is 6-for-10 with three doubles and two RBI.

Next Game

Tuesday, June 18 vs. Springfield Cardinals

Security Bank Ballpark 6:30 p.m. (Gates open 6:00)

Start of the Second Half of the Texas League Season (all clubs go back to 0-0)

Two-for-One Tuesday

- Second of a three-game series and a seven-game homestand (Springfield June 18-19 & Arkansas, June 20-23)

- Radio: NewsTalk 550 with Bob Hards ... airtime 6:15 p.m.

Probable Starters

SPR: Johan Oviedo (RH, 1-3, 6.91)

RH: Daulton Jefferies (RH, 0-1, 3.54), tandem with Grant Holmes (RH, 1-1, 3.04)


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