El Paso wins to set up showdown series for division lead
Class A Fort Wayne loses but clinches Midwest League playoff berth
Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.
Triple-A El Paso closed perhaps its last homestand of the season Sunday by scoring a 4-2 victory over Oklahoma City, to close to within 1 1/2 games of Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern Division-leading Las Vegas going into a four-game series at Las Vegas starting Monday.
Meanwhile, Class A Fort Wayne clinched a seventh straight Midwest League playoff berth, despite suffering an 8-3 loss at Lansing. The TinCaps lead the race for the second-half Eastern Division title by three games with eight to play.
Right-handed starter Casey Kelly and three relievers held Oklahoma City to two runs on six hits as El Paso improved to 72-63.
Kelly (1-1, 5.06 earned run average) allowed two runs on six hits with five strikeouts over six innings.
Right-handed reliever Nick Vincent (3.04 ERA) issued a walk while striking out the side in an otherwise perfect seventh. Right-hander Dale Thayer (0.00) pitched a perfect eighth. And recently-acquired right-hander Jon Edwards (1.26 ERA on the season) walked one with a strikeout in a hitless ninth to pick up his 22nd save of the PCL season.
Third baseman Cody Decker (.252) was 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Shortstop Hector Gomez (.356) was 2-for-4 with a run scored. First baseman Jake Goebbert (.301) was 1-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe (.340) was 0-for-a with three walks and a steal.
At Lansing, Mich., the TinCaps suffered a third straight loss to fall to 71-60, although a Lake County loss assured Fort Wayne a spot in the playoffs.
Center fielder Edwin Moreno (.318) was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Shortstop Ruddy Giron (.294) was 1-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly.
Right-handed starter Ernesto Montas (11-7, 3.63 ERA) allowed five runs on 10 hits with two strikeouts in five innings.
Left-handed reliever Kyle McGrath (1.76) allowed two hits with three strikeouts in two scoreless innings. Right-handed reliever Nick Monroe (2.33) gave up three unearned runs on three hits with a strikeout in an inning.
In another piece of news regarding Fort Wayne, TinCaps left-handed reliever Taylor Cox, 22, was named the first recipient of Minor League Baseball's Stars of Tomorrow scholarship to DeVry University. Cox had a 3.74 grade-point-average at Tennessee-Martin when he was drafted in the 16th round by the Padres in 2014.
There was one organizational move Sunday. Right-handed starting pitcher Elliot Morris was activated from the seven-day disabled list by Double-A San Antonio.
Around the farm:
DOUBLE-A SAN ANTONIO (56-76): Starting RHP Bryce Morrow (4.36 ERA) allowed a run on five hits and a walk with three strikeouts in seven innings. LHP Eury De La Rosa (1-1, 1.69) allowed a run on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts in an inning. CF Auston Bousfield (.184) was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. DH Alberth Martinez (.274) had a RBI double in four at-bats.
CLASS A ADVANCED LAKE ELSINORE (47-86): LANCASTER 19, Storm 2 -- 1B Marcus Davis (.250) hit his seventh homer in three at-bats. SS Daniel Bravo (.222) hit his first homer in his only at-bat. RF Nick Torres (.286) was 2-for-4 with a double. INF Chase Jensen (.277) was 2-for-4. Starting RHP Michael Kelly (0-5, 9.38 ERA) allowed six runs on seven hits and a walk with two strikeouts in four innings. RHP Bryan Verbitsky (4.18) allowed three runs on a hit and three walks with a strikeout in one-third of an inning. LHP Kyle Bartsch (4.01) allowed two hits in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. RHP Rafael DePaula (5.10) allowed five runs on four hits and two walks without retiring a batter.
SHORT-SEASON CLASS A TRI-CITY (36-34): EVERETT 5, Dust Devils 4 -- C Austin Allen (.228) was 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBIs and a run scored. 2B Kodie Tidwell (.247) was 1-for-1 with three walks, a steal and a RBI. DH Mason Smith (.221) was 0-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored. RHP Adrian De Horta (3.74) allowed four runs on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. LHP Jerry Keel (2-1, 3.19) allowed a run on two hits and a walk with a strikeout in 1 1/3 innings. RHP Sam Holland (1.59) allowed a hit in two otherwise perfect innings. RHP Wilson Santos (2.84) allowed a walk with a strikeout in an otherwise perfect inning.