SAN ANTONIO — The Missions sent Jackson Wolf, who has been their best starter this season, to the mound Sunday, but a slightly subpar performance by the lefty and sloppy play in the field yielded the home team an 8-4 loss as they dropped the series to the Midland RockHounds.
“We saw that his velocity was a little off, but he felt fine and was frustrated with a few pitches, and we didn’t play well on defense at all,” said Luke Montz. “We didn’t pick him up, and I’m sure everyone having a couple of days off will help.”
Wolf gave up a triple to open the game, and San Antonio immediately went down by a run when the runner came around on a sacrifice fly.
In the second, after a one-out double by Denzel Clarke, Tirso Ornelas tracked down a fly ball in right and almost threw Clarke out as he advanced to third. Instead, Clarke beat the throw, then came around on a line drive that Kervin Pichardo, making his first career start in center field, misplayed into a triple. A fielding error by shortstop Ray-Patrick Didder allowed a third run to come around.
The combination of a temperature of 94 degrees, fatigue, and having clinched the first-half playoff spot earlier in the week may have led to a lapse in concentration.
“I want to be a good manager to these guys, and I know people are tired after six games, but you just can’t fold on Sundays,” said Montz. “We haven’t really played well on Sundays in the first half, and we still have work to do.
“I’m doing this for their careers and to better myself, but the rest of the year, it will get hot, and if we fold every Sunday, it will look bad for all of us. I harp on this that we are trying to get everyone their rest, but that Sunday game is just as important as all the rest.”
Wolf ended up going five innings on 80 pitches, throwing 50 for strikes. While he missed some locations, it could have been a closer game if a few plays had gone the other way.
The 6-foot-7 lefty finished the first half with a 3.90 ERA in 14 starts with 82 strikeouts against only 17 walks in 67 innings.
“He’s a super-competitive kid,” said Montz in a pre-game interview. “You wouldn’t think it by how relaxed he is in the clubhouse or out on the field kicking around a soccer ball, but he does not care who is in the batter’s box. He’s locked in and will compete; nothing will throw him off.”
San Antonio, held to seven hits on the day, could not manufacture a big inning, going 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Cole Cummings was 2-for-4 with a double, and Aruba native Didder was 1-for-4 with his fifth home run of the season and stole his 12th base of the year in 16 attempts.
Former position player Justin Lopez got in the game in the seventh and, after walking the first two batters, got the next three outs to put up a clean inning.
“That’s the fire you see with Justin, he could have given in, but he didn’t,” said Montz on the player who spent parts of four seasons with the TinCaps as a middle infielder before converting to pitching last year.
“He showed us what he can do and competed, and that’s the result.”
Notes: Before the game, the Padres put catcher Chandler Seagle on the 7-Day Injured List retroactive to June 24 after he strained his hamstring in Friday night’s game. Pitchers Michel Baez and Brian Gonzalez also hit the IL, while yesterday’s starter, Jose Espada, went on the Temporarily Inactive List. That left the Missions with just 24 active players Sunday. With a two-day break awaiting, a flurry of roster moves will likely come this week, with more after the upcoming amateur draft in early July. … Missions’ right-hander Duncan Snider is headed out to Peoria today and should be ready to begin rehab. Snider told us he had some general soreness and feels good now. … The Missions will kick off the second half against the Frisco RoughRiders on Wednesday at home.