EL PASO, Texas —The Chihuahuas won 9-5 over the Sacramento River Cats and took three out of four to win the series over the San Francisco Giants’ affiliate. The big story was the performance of righthander Dinelson Lamet, who went five innings throwing a high 90s fastball with a slider and changeup both improved from when Padres fans last saw him in 2017.
“He was throwing a lot of strikes and the command of the fastball was there, which is a very good sign,” said his manager Edwin Rodriguez when asked what impressed him most about Lamet’s performance.
Through three rehab starts in Triple-A, Lamet has punched out 19 against four walks, and opponents are hitting only .185 against him.
Lamet’s most impressive work of the night came after he allowed two walks and a pair of singles with one out. With two on and one out and his lead down to one, Lamet bounced back and struck out the next two, the last one on three straight off-speed pitches.
“He needs to get a little better feel for his offspeed pitches, but they are coming,” said Rodriguez. “Lamet was ready to go out for the sixth inning, he told us he was feeling great and that is another good sign.”
El Paso opened the scoring with a four-run first inning, initiated by center fielder Michael Getty’s double. Gettys has now gotten on base in twenty straight games and maybe, just maybe the tools are starting to play.
“At the beginning of the year he was struggling,” said Rodriguez, “but he has been working very hard with Morgan Burkhart, our hitting coach, and it’s coming.
“He’s too hard on himself. I told him a month ago if you go 0-for-4 or 0-for-20 you are still going to be in the lineup. But if I see you throwing helmets or getting mad at yourself then you are going to be out of the lineup. It’s a process and the key for Micahel is to become more patient with himself.”
Right-handed reliever Andres Muñoz picked up where Lamet left off, striking out two batters in the sixth. Like Lamet though, he really shined when the pressure was on as he worked through a second inning for the first time since joining El Paso.
Muñoz gave up a leadoff triple and hit a batter to open the seventh inning but came back to strike out the next two batters. He ended the inning with a ground out to shortstop.
“He was cold-blooded and didn’t rush the situation, and that is what you want to see,” said Rodriguez. “He’s getting more comfortable and confident in throwing his slider in any situation and in any count.”
The Chihuahuas have scored in the first inning in five consecutive games and have outscored opponents 89-47 this season in first innings. Although the El Paso offense scored nine runs tonight, in the first 80 games of this season they have been in double figures 21 times.
“As a pitcher, I am aware of how the ball is flying in the PCL,” said pitcher Logan Allen, who was recently promoted to the big club. “But our boys can hit, they can really hit.”