Pitching gradually improves as Chihuahuas defeat River Cats 8-3


Gaby Velasquez

The El Paso Chihuahuas played against the Sacramento River Cats at the Southwest University Park on May 31st, 2016.

Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor

[youtube id=”bZuvmVR2LH4″]

Jeremy Guthrie pitched six solid innings, only allowed two runs and struck out six batters as the El Paso Chihuahuas defeated the Sacramento River Cats 8-3 in the first of the four-game home series against the San Francisco Giants triple-A affiliate.

After struggling early this season, Guthrie and the Chihuahuas pitching staff have improved significantly during the past two weeks. Guthrie took the win and improved to 3-5 on the year.

“Before we went on the road, we made it a point to let these guys know that we have to pitch better,” club manager Rod Barajas said. “Expectations were high and these guys answered. They did a tremendous job on the road and they came home and they did a great job again.”
The profound pitching was complimented by steady hitting, which came from the batters at the top of the order. The top four batters in the lineup (Manuel Marot, Carlos Asuaje, Alex Dickerson and Hunter Renfroe) combined for eight of the team’s 11 hits. Renfroe was the master of driving runners home, as he went 2-for-4 with three RBI’s. The lead off hitter of the Chihuahuas, center fielder Manuel Margot, hit 3-of-4 on the night as well.

“It’s nice to have that spark plug at the top of the order [Margot],” Barajas said. “The guy who gets on base and causes havoc on base. Asuaje, Dickerson and Renfroe are getting good pitches because when he’s on base, the pitcher’s focus is keeping (Margot) from stealing a base.”

One of the most storied individual streaks that the Chihuahuas have been carrying is left fielder Alex Dickerson’s hit per game streak. After going 0-for-2 throughout eight innings, the chances of him extending his streak seemed slim; but Dickerson managed to steal a hit after he bunted to the sand, ran out the throw and was called safe at first base.

“When I was watching from inside, I knew that was a base hit for sure,” Guthrie said. “Obviously he started like gang-busters on the streak and now it’s more of a grind to get these hits. I’m sure hits will come early, louder, like they were when he first started the streak.”

Dickerson has now hit at least a hit in 29 straight games for the Chihuahuas. Although the streak is becoming more and more significant as the games roll on, Dickerson claims it is not a beaming thought.

“I’m always conscious of it [the streak], it’s nothing I stress out about,” Dickerson said. “I could care less about the streak. It’s something fun, but not something I’m going to go crazy over it.”

Although the hit streak is a significant stat, Dickerson may be placed in a game as a pinch hitter where he might only get one at-bat, making the odds of him getting a hit lower. Barajas says the reasoning behind that is playing the right cards that he has in his deck.

“It’s tough—you want to take into consideration what he’s doing, but bottom line is we’re here to win baseball games,” Barajas said. “He’s here to be put into those pinch hit situations as well. He needs to continue to get those looks. Hopefully he’s able to keep those hits coming when he starts and when he doesn’t start, we score a lot of runs and don’t have to use him.”

The home team started off hot by having back-to-back runs in the first and second innings, respectively. Among the two runs was Ryan Schimpf’s solo home run at the bottom of the second inning. At the top of the third, the River Cats responded to the lead with two runs of their own. The early comeback from the River Cats was sprung by a Gorkys Hernandez solo home run to start the inning. Then, Mitch Delfino hit a RBI single to tie the game 2-2. The inning was probably the low point of the game from Guthrie, as he allowed four hits, two runs and a walk in the inning. The River Cats also were outhitting the home team at this point, 7-4.

It was not until the bottom of the sixth inning where Renfroe got things rolling on the hit board. He shot a RBI double that drove Margot home for the go-ahead lead. After the hit, Schimpf was walked, leaving two runners on base for Jose Pirela. On the second pitch, Pirela blasted a 3-run homer to lift the Chihuahuas 6-2.

After Dickerson’s hit in the bottom of the second, Renfroe hit a two run shot to cap the win, 8-3.

The Chihuahuas (29-22) will continue their series against the River Cats on Wednesday, June 1 at Southwest University Park. The first pitch is slated for 7:05.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]