LAKE ELSINORE — The Storm continued to beat up on Arizona’s cellar-dwelling affiliate Thursday night, putting up double-digit runs for the third straight night in a 12-4 laugher. Joshua Mears led Elsinore’s 12-hit attack with a pair of homers, including a monster blast in the eighth that capped the scoring.
Mears, who looks a bit looser at the plate than earlier in the season, finished the night with a season-high five RBI as he collected his third multi-homer game of the year. The 20-year-old outfielder, who the Padres jumped on in the second round of the 2019 draft because of his truly elite raw power, pushed his line for July to .333/.415/.917 in 41 plate appearances. He’s brought his strikeout rate for the month under 30 percent for the first time since joining the system.
Mears got the scoring started Thursday in the third inning, when he smacked a two-out, bases-loaded single to center to plate a pair. He then led off the fifth with a screaming low liner that scraped over the six foot fence down the left field line before capping his night with a two-run moonshot that appeared to easily clear the batting cage building beyond the left field scoreboard.
Four other Storm batters collected two hits each against a Visalia staff that has now allowed 100 more runs than any other club in the league. Euribiel Angeles extended his hitting streak to 21 games with his second triple of the series and a bases-clearing double that broke the game open during a five-run fifth inning. The 19-year-old continues to show great batspeed and a feel for the barrel. He’s struck out just six times in 59 trips to the plate this month.
Robert Hassell III added two more doubles to push his team-high total to 21 as he lifted his line for the month to .400/.459/.545. Sean Guilbe, seeing dividends from the work he did to improve his body before joining the team at the end of May, had a pair of hits and drew a walk as well.
On the mound, starter Ruben Galindo steamrolled Visalia’s lineup through the first three innings. The 20-year-old, making his second start of the season, struck out six of the first seven batters he faced and allowed just one walk and a single, relying largely on a fastball that sat around 90 and a slider with some late life. The only mistake Visalia was able to capitalize on came in the fourth inning, when Galindo left a fastball over the plate to clean-up hitter Neyfy Castillo, who deposited it in left for a two-run homer. Galindo bounced back to finish the frame with two more strikeouts, giving him 10 for the night.
Gabriel Morales followed, but struggled with his command in a short appearance, allowing a pair of earned runs on a two walks, a single and a wild pitch. The big lefty, whose fastball can flash mid-90s, has been inconsistent working primarily from the bullpen this year, and he’s now walked 24 in 37 frames.
Called on with a man on and a 5-3 lead, Levi Thomas walked the first two batters he faced and uncorked a wild pitch to close the lead to one. But then the lefty found his groove and punched out Castillo to end the threat. From there, the Padres’ fourth round pick out of Troy last summer absolutely dominated a Visalia lineup that is at the bottom of the league in virtually every category. Thomas needed just 10 pitches to strike out the side in the seventh and retired the final 11 batters he faced.