EL PASO – The Chihuahuas lost 10-3 to drop the series with the Albuquerque Isotopes four games to two, but not before Fernando Tatis, Jr. gave the crowd one more taste of what they came for with a drive over the left field wall for his seventh Triple-A home run in the first inning.
Tatis is not expected to join El Paso when they head to Tacoma Tuesday. It was still being determined whether he would play for the Lake Elsinore Storm on Tuesday or be at the Peoria Sports Complex before joining the Padres for Thursday’s game in Phoenix.
Tatis went 2-for-5 to finish eight games and 39 plate appearances with El Paso with a slash line of .515/.590/1.212 with nine extra-base hits and seven home runs. He struck out three times, walked six, and had two stolen bases in as many attempts.
After his final plate appearance in the ninth, when he popped out to second base, Tatis acknowledged the cheers in the crowd by doffing his hat as he went into the dugout.
The game wasn’t among El Paso’s best, as the team committed five errors, including three by shortstop Tim Lopes.
“You have just to stay the course,” said Chihuahua’s manager Phillip Wellman. “Tim Lopes had a tough day at shortstop, but he’s played well the other four or five times we have had him out there – and we aren’t going to change that.
“We also had a knuckleball pitcher out there in [Matt] Waldron, and you will get passed balls. You combine that with the errors, and we gave the other team way too many free bases, which makes it hard to win.”
Waldron got the start for the Chihuahuas and continued to struggle. The 26-year-old, who had allowed 13 runs in 9.2 innings over his first two starts, gave up six more Sunday to push his ERA to 11.93 for the year.
The right-hander from the University of Nebraska is one of the few pitchers left in the game who throws the knuckleball, which he mixes with a slider and a low 90s fastball. As interesting as the profile is, becoming consistent with the knuckler is very different.
“It is a very hard pitch to master, and I think Matt is still searching for how to find that consistency with it,” said Wellman. “I know he’s frustrated, and all my hope is it picks up for him because he’s putting in the work.”
Notes: Yorman Rodriguez, 25, made one of the five errors at third base today, taking his eye off of the ball while attempting to apply a tag, but he also had three hits to push his slash line up to .372/.426/.605 in 47 plate appearances. Rodriguez has primarily played at catcher and first base in his career but has also played some third base since the Padres selected him from the Blue Jays organization in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft in 2020. With Sunday’s call-up of Brett Sullivan to the big club, Rodriguez should get more opportunities behind home plate. Still, the organization is seeking to have him in a more permanent defensive position because many believe in the bat.
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