Chihuahuas win seventh straight

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Angel Ulloa

Chihuahuas third baseman Ryan Schimpf was named Pacific Coast League Player of the Week on Monday, June 6.

Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor

From what was once a roller-coaster start to now being a defining force; the El Paso Chihuahuas have been riding high on the mound throughout the past month. They have won seven games in a row, significantly improved their pitching staff and rest atop the standings of the Southern division of the Pacific Coast League.

“It’s a nightly thing for us and I’ll keep saying it,” said Rod Barajas, club manager . “It seems like a new hero every night for us. That’s a sign of a good ball club–one through nine–so we’re going to keep this thing going.”

The Chihuahuas (34-22) are tied for the best record in Triple-A baseball, and lead the Las Vegas 51s by four games in the division.

“I think we really are getting our stride as a team and it’s been showing in the past month,” said third baseman Carlos Asuaje. “We won 20 games and we are going to build off that. It’s tremendous for me personally and as a team.”

Last week, the Chihuahuas swept the Sacramento River Cats at home. Despite the three wins against the San Francisco Giants affiliate, each game featured a unique and thrilling way of doing it. During the last game, on Friday, June 3, the Chihuahuas were down by as much as four scores going into the bottom of the seventh inning, when they steamed five unanswered runs to defeat the River Cats 7-6.

“We find ways to win games,” Barajas said. “These guys are a broken record—they find ways to come back and make things exciting if we don’t win.”

The sweep against the River Cats was only the second time the club has swept a team this season. The previous sweep came in April against the New Orleans Zephyrs.

“It obviously feels good to sweep,” Barajas said. “If you sweep somebody in this league, it’s four games. When you’re playing baseball, you have to take all the wins you can get. We’re finding ways to do things. Hopefully we can keep this ball rolling. We got a good road trip last time, now this road trip—trying to keep this momentum and steer it in the right direction.”

Now on the road against the Fresno Grizzlies–Houston Astros affiliate—the Chihuahuas are on track for back-to-back sweeps. They have won two games against the Grizzlies and have dominated them on the hitting board.

The squad set a club-high on Sunday, June 5, with 23 hits in their 10-6 victory. They had at least one hit in eight out of nine innings throughout the game, as Alex Dickerson flirted with the cycle—hitting a single, double, triple and home run in a single game. Dickerson recorded a triple and two intentional walks, leaving him a home run shy of the cycle.

Barajas has been instilling a common trait to his offense all season: consistency. According to Asuaje, that is what he and the rest of the batters are striving for.

“Personally, consistency means having a quality at bat every time I go up,” Asuaje said. “Whether it be a walk, getting on base or hopefully help my team with a hit.”

While offensively the squad contains depth, the pitching staff has done a 180-degree turn since the start of the season. The pitching has improved substantially and, according to Barajas, their work ethic at practice is the key to rendering positive results in the game.

“They have been dominating as a pitching staff,” Barajas said. “It’s been fun to see the turnaround that these guys have had and these guys go after it 100 percent. When guys put in that much effort, it’s going to translate in the game.”

After the road trip, the Chihuahuas will return to Southwest University Park to face the River Cats from June 9-12.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]