EL PASO — The Chihuahuas’ three-game winning streak ended on Sunday night with a 7-4 defeat, but El Paso still took the series four games to two.
Right-hander starter Matt Waldron gave up five runs, three of them on home runs. Shortstop Ezequiel Durran hit a solo one in the first inning and a two-run shot in the third.
Since being promoted from San Antonio, where he had a 2.84 ERA in 44.1 innings, Waldron has struggled to find the same success with a 9.15 ERA in four starts and 19.2 innings.
“This year, I have been mixing in more fastballs and sliders than last year when I was throwing the knuckleball about eighty percent of the time,” Waldron said before his start.
Although the results at the Triple-A level haven’t been what anyone is looking for, the combination of a low 90s fastball with a good but inconsistent knuckleball is worth waiting on.
The Chihuahuas’ offensive output was from C.J. Hinojosa and Brent Rooker. Hinojosa hit his second home run in two days and continues on a blistering July, where his six home runs have doubled the three that he hit April through June.
Rooker hit his 18th home run in the eighth inning shot, which like most of his home runs, wasn’t much doubt when it left the bat. The home run tied him for fifth in the Pacific Coast League.
“The biggest hole for him when he came over was chasing in the top of the zone,” said his manager Jared Sandberg. “He’s gotten a little bit closer to the plate, which has helped him get the ball closer to him and get that pull power.
“He’s hit some balls to center and right – and he’s also using the whole field more. The biggest thing he is doing is refining his approach and limiting the amount he chases up in the zone.”
Lefty Jose Castillo allowed two runs for the first time all season to snap a month-long scoreless streak. On the year, he has a 1.52 ERA in 23.2 innings for the Chihuahuas with 27 strikeouts and nine walks.
“At the beginning of the season, I felt a little soreness, but that has gone away,” said Castillo after a pre-game workout. “Without the injuries and soreness, it has freed my mind to just concentrate on pitching and not to be distracted.”
Notes: The Chihuahuas begin a four-day break with the All-Star Game and return to action on the road in Reno on Friday.