Just about everything went El Paso's way on Friday night as the Chihuahuas beat the Nashville Sounds 7-3 to split a four-game series. Jonathan Galvez and Cody Decker had big days at the plate, but the main theme was returns. Cameron Maybin played center field and led off in the first of five minor league games he's allowed to play before his speed suspension is over, and Jeff Francoeur doubled and drove in two runs in his first game back in El Paso since his brief stint with the Padres. The most notable return, however, was that of Joe Wieland. The 24-year-old right-hander made his first AAA start since 2012, when his season split between Tucson and San Diego was cut short by an elbow injury that necessitated Tommy John surgery.
Wieland, who had his surgery in July, 2012, missed the entirety of the 2013 season, and had a setback this spring, worked his way up to this game with five starts in rookie-ball and AA over the past month. In each start, he threw 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 innings, respectively. Naturally, Wieland pitched 6 innings this time. He gave up two runs on four hits -- a single, double, and two triples -- and no walks, while striking out five batters. Wieland did all of this with just 68 pitches, 46 of which he threw for strikes.
As for the other guys, Maybin walked twice, grounded out in his only official at-bat, and stole a base before being replaced by Rico Noel in the top of the seventh inning. He had a great seat to watch his teammates-for-the-next-few-days score five runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 7-3 lead that they would hold. Maybin's steal was one of three by the pups, with Jonathan Galvez and Tyler Greene snagging the other two. Maybin and Greene stole second, but Galvez stole third since he was already on second thanks to one of his two doubles. Galvez and Decker are now tied for second on the club in doubles; their twin tallies of 22 are surpassed only by Greene's 26.
Jeff Francoeur picked up where he left off in El Paso after a few weeks of looking lost in navy and sand. He doubled and drove in two runs to bring his total of RBI in AAA this season to 62. He did have the team lead when he was promoted last month, but has since been passed up by Cody Decker, who also drove in a pair to bump him up to 65. Decker matched his foil Francoeur's double and raised a home run, his team-leading twenty-first of the year.
I'd be remiss if I didn't follow up on the "prediction" I made about new guy Yeison Asencio. Here's the guess I made and the "logic" behind it:
If he were to follow his current patterns -- which, of course, he won't -- one could expect him to go 2-5 with a single, a home run, and 3 RBI in his next game. The single is because he hasn't gone a game without one and the homer is because that's just what happens when he starts. The 3 RBI are because he had 0,1, and 2 -- in that order -- in his first three games. Similarly, his theoretical 2-5 line is because in his first three games he was retired -- once again, in this order -- 0, 1, and 2 times.
I was right in a couple regards. Asencio did single yet again and he was retired three times. However, the homer wasn't there, and Yeison finished 1-4 with a run scored. In his four games with the Chihuahuas, Asencio is 8-for-14 with one double, two home runs, three RBI, and four runs scored. His silly small-sample-size slash line of .571/ .571/ 1.071 in El Paso has boosted his overall season line up to .292/ .330/ .429, which is remarkably similar to his career line of .294/ .332/ .443.
Their season series against Nashville now complete, the Chihuahuas will stay at home for four more games as the Memphis Redbirds come to town for four games. The Paw-dres will send Jason Lane to the hill to kick the series off. It's his first start since August 7, but he has appeared in three contests since then. He pinch-hit twice, and played seven innings at first base in another game. The Redbirds will counter Lane with Carlos Martinez, who has pitched 10.1 innings and allowed no earned runs in two starts with Memphis since being demoted by the Cardinals at the beginning of the month. Lane is scheduled to throw the first non-ceremonial pitch at 6:05pm PDT, so since the Chihuahuas and Redbirds' parent clubs get started two hours earlier, fans of both franchises should be able to catch most of the AAA game after Joaquin Benoit strikes out Matt Holliday to earn the save.