EL PASO – After dropping the first game of their final homestand of 2021, the Chihuahuas came back to cruise to an 8-2 victory over the Sugar Land Skeeters in the second.
First baseman Taylor Kohlwey cleared the bases with a two-out double in the second to put El Paso up 3-0, but the big damage came in the fifth when the Padres’ top affiliate sent nine men to the plate for five runs.
Designated hitter Patrick Kivlehan hit a two-run blast to center for his second home run in two days and 21st of the year. Two batters later, left fielder John Andreoli hit his own two-run shot to nearly the same spot to put the home team up 8-0.
The offense was more than Pedro Avila would need in his first Triple-A start, which came 29 months after his first big league game. The righty tossed five scoreless innings, giving up only one hit and striking out five against a single walk. He threw 64 pitches, 45 for strikes.
Avila, 24, made two starts for San Diego in April, 2019, but hurt his elbow in his first appearance after a demotion to Double-A. After rehabbing for much of the summer, his elbow blew out in his first start back in Amarillo and he had Tommy John surgery. After opening this season in San Antonio’s bullpen, he spent June working in relief for El Paso, before moving back down to prepare to reenter the starting rotation last month. He was up-and-down for the Missions, but stuck out 16 against two walks in 12 innings over his last three starts. The performance was enough to get him back to Triple-A to finish the season.
“He’s got a very good changeup, which kind of moves like a slider, and a good curve,” said his manager Eric Junge, who served as the Padres’ minor league pitching coordinator before this year. “When he was in A-ball he was very good at pitching backwards, dropping that curve or slider in fastball counts – he was really good at keeping hitters off balance.
“He’s been battling back from injuries and if he can prove that he can do the same thing at this level he shouldn’t have any problem replicating that success.”
Kivlehan, 31, after taking part of the summer to play with the US Olympic Team, came into the game red-hot in September hitting .327/.404/.510. The former Rutgers two-sport star – he started playing college baseball after he had played four full years of football – spent 2019 in the Pittsburgh and Toronto organizations where he hit .255/.339/.532 in the upper minors. For the year, he is hitting .263/.321/.517 with 38 extra-base hits in 83 games.
Notes: Kohlwey, despite having a double and three RBI tonight, also got the Golden Sombrero. … In addition to his home run, Andreoli reached base two other times with a pair of walks and former Rancho Bernardo High School star second baseman Gosuke Katoh was 2-4 with an RBI triple and a single.