SAN ANTONIO – While the Missions had the tying run at the plate with no outs in the eighth, the story of the game was already written two innings into the contest. Astros’ pitcher Lance McCullers Jr.made his first rehab appearance for the Hooks, allowing a run on three hits over two innings, topping out on 94 mph. Domingo Leyba tagged McCullers for a booming RBI double down the right field line in the first, but that was the only damage the Missions managed against the righty, who has missed the full season with a UCL injury.
While McCullers cruised, he left with a 6-1 lead, Ryan Lillie – who started the Missions’ combined no-hitter – was unable to get out of the first inning.
The Missions turned to RHP Felix Minjarez to settle the ship and he did just that. The Redlands native tossed a season high 3.1 innings allowing two runs while tying his season high with six strikeouts in his fourth ever Double-A appearance.
Offensively, the Missions were able to put 17 runners on base but were unable to get that big hit to complete the comeback. Leyba’s double in the first was their only extra base hit of the game, while they had two runners thrown out at the plate. Jose Fernandez led the way with three hits, and Tirso Ornelas reached base with a single, walk, and hit by pitch. In total, eight different Missions reached base on the night.
The Missions led off the eighth with three straight hits and had the tying run at the plate with no outs, but a strikeout and double play ended the inning, and the last chance at a rally for San Antonio.
Late in the game the Missions turned to Padres’ 17th ranked prospect, Kevin Kopps on the mound. The former Golden Spikes winner is trying to rebound after two tough months of ERAs over 6.50. Tonight, he allowed two hits, but was able to escape the jam allowing no runs over two innings striking out three. In July, Kopps has only allowed an earned run in two of his six outings and is sporting a much improved 2.00 ERA. The biggest improvement is in his command. After walking 15 in 16.2 innings in May/June, Kopps has three walks in nine July innings.
With the loss, the Missions drop to 46-40 overall and 8-11 in the second half.
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