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Bullpen dominates but Chihuahuas lose


The El Paso Chihuahuas were not able to recover from a slow start and the Omaha Storm Chasers evened up the series with a 6-2 tonight at Southwest University Park. In front of 6534 fans, the Chihuahuas’ bullpen was almost perfect for over six innings of work, but the offense was not able to dig themselves out of the hole starting pitcher James Needy put them in.

“Their starting pitching was good, it was very good,” said Chihuahuas’ manager Pat Murphy. “Give them (Omaha) credit. They drove the baseball early, six extra base hits in three innings and yeah.”

Needy came in to the game tied for the team lead in wins. The right-hander from San Diego, Ca., had five ins and just two losses, but tonight as simply not his night. He was on the mound for just over two innings and Storm Chasers fully took advantage of the 24-year-old’s off night.

After a scoreless first inning, Needy would allow all of Omaha’s eight hits and the six runs that would prove to be enough to secure the win.

In the second inning with El Paso leading 1-0, Needy gave up a double, a home run and a double, all in a row, and the Storm Chasers would take the lead 2-1. The struggles continued in the third with Omaha putting four more innings on the board thanks to a couple more doubles and another homer. With two outs and after third walk Murphy had seen enough.

Last night Murphy only turned to the bullpen for a single out, tonight he would need them for over two thirds of the game and they responded. The El Paso manager used a combination of four relievers that would completely shut down the visiting offense for the remainder of the game.

Daniel McCutchen came in for the last out of the third and would pitch the fourth and fifth not allowing a single hit and only putting one man on base because of a walk. Nick Vincent would come in for the sixth and walk a batter and dispose of the other three he faced. Leonel Campos and Eury De La Rosa combined to pitch three perfect innings in which Campos would strike out three of the six batters he faced.

“Hats off to our bullpen,” Murphy said. “A couple of those guys it’s important for them to bounce back and have the confidence they need, so it’s good to see…They all contributed and hopefully they build off of that.”

The brilliant performance from the bullpen was not good enough with the offense unable to come up with much of anything tonight. After a nice start, putting a run on the board in the first inning, the Chihuahuas went cold at the plate managing just six more hits in the following eight innings.

The biggest threat came in the bottom of the seventh when the Chihuahuas would manage to load the bases. With the Storm Chasers leading 6-2, Omaha pitcher Chris Dwyer walked two men before being replaced by Yohan Pino would walk a third Chihuahua to load the bases.

With one out, second baseman Ramiro Pena came to the plate with the opportunity to bring some important runs home and perhaps change the course of the game. Pena made pretty good contact, but the ball was not outside of the second baseman’s range and the Storm Chasers turned a double play to end the inning the Chihuahua threat.

“It’s part of the game. Pena put a good swing on it—a hard hit ball right at somebody—if  the ball is in the whole, four feet to his left, then all of a sudden we have a different game,” Murphy said. “That’s baseball, you have to keep the pressure on them so much that those opportunities come up more than once. We didn’t do that.”

The Chihuahuas fall back to below .500 territory and will take on Omaha for a third time tomorrow night with first pitched scheduled for 6:35 at Southwest University Park.

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected].

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Bullpen dominates but Chihuahuas lose