Chihuahuas drop second straight to Fresno

Luis Gonzalez, Sports Editor

The El Paso Chihuahuas gave up three runs in the opening inning and never recovered on their way to a second straight loss to the Fresno Grizzlies. The starting pitcher for the visitors, Mike Hauschild, went six full innings, shutting down the Chihuahua’s offense and leading the Grizzlies to a 5-1 victory.

“We had a rough night offensively,” said Chihuahuas’ manager Jamie Quirk. “He (Hauschild) kept testing our patience and winning the battle.”

El Paso starting pitcher Chris Smith had a solid outing once he recovered from his rough first inning. Smith gave up two singles, two walks and a double to five of the first six batters he faced, resulting in Fresno going ahead on the scoreboard 3-0.

Smith settled down after getting his first three outs and went on to pitch five scoreless innings. The right-hander allowed just two more hits on the night and struck out four, five in total.

Still, the first inning hole was just too much to overcome and Smith tallied his third loss of the season.

“First inning they jumped on us, hurt us a little bit,” Quirk said. “Then Smittie was excellent after that.”

Despite the impressive night on the mound for Hauschild, who had 10 strikeouts and allowed just three hits, the Chihuahuas had their chances to get on the board and climb back into the game.

In the fourth inning, where the Chihuahuas found their only run of the night, shortstop Benji Gonzalez came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. The switch hitter, playing in his second game with the Chihuahuas this season, struck out and left a golden opportunity on the field.

By the end of the game the Chihuahuas would leave 10 men stranded on base and go 1-9 with players in scoring position.

“They kind of helped us out with a couple of errors and a walk and a hit batter,” Quirk said. “They were trying to help us, we just couldn’t take advantage of it.”

On a bright note, infielder Cody Decker was selected to this year’s All-Star Game. Decker, who has a batting average of .284, has 15 home runs, 51 runs batted in and will start as the designated hitter for the PCL All-Stars when they take on the International League on July 15 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Decker will become the first El Paso Chihuahua to start in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

“(It’s) outstanding, well deserved,” Quirk said. “The home runs and the RBI’s, he’s up there with the league leaders in both of them, with a lot less at bats than those guys that are leading. He’s had to battle and work for everything his whole career, it’s nice for him to get a little recognition.”

The Chihuahuas will be back in action tomorrow night for the third game of the series with the Grizzlies. With tonight’s loss El Paso falls back down to under .500 territory. The dogs’ 39-40 record puts them five-and-a-half games behind the division leading Las Vegas 51’s.

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected]