San Antonio Missions Notebook

The San Antonio Missions had two of their top three starting pitchers traded away by the parent Seattle Mariners' organization, but that hasn't stopped the two-time defending Texas League Champs from regularly getting into the win column. InsidethePark.com's Joe Weiss breaks down the first week of Mission's baseball in this week's notebook.

The first week of the fledgling baseball season is almost over, and the defending Texas League Champion San Antonio Missions have spent it amassing a less-than-stellar 3-3 record. Taken out of context, however, statistics can be deceiving; the Missions could just as well be 5-1.

Of the three they've lost, two were by one run. All came on the road against a tough Midland Rockhounds club.

So, one can speculate: if the wind had just been blowing out instead of in…if that long foul hadn't veered those few feet to the left at the last second…if they'd been playing at home; a walk given up here…a balk given up there…

For every defeat, it seems there's a near miss or mental gaffe to put things in perspective.

Perhaps most agonizing were the first two dropped by San Antonio. In both their opener and the following game, Dave Brundage's club came out swinging. Scoring eight and 11 runs over the course of the two evenings usually is enough to rack up a pair of wins, but in this case, the Midland Rockhounds just swung harder. They one-upped San Antonio 9-8 and 12-11 on Thursday and Friday nights, respectively, by producing offense not just in abundance, but at the right times as well.

Down by two going into the ninth on Thursday, the Rockhounds' Jason Perry jump-started things late by tripling to left. After Freddie Bynum reached, Brian Sellier connected for the second triple of the inning, scoring two and knotting the score. A shaken Jared Hoerman then hit Jeremy Brown and walked Mark Teahen two batters later to bring home the winning run. So, for all the loud run production, the end came with a whimper.

An ineffective bullpen thwarted the Missions in their next match-up as well. Jose Nunez, Chris Key, and Rick Guttormson combined to blow a four run lead in the final three innings on Friday not just because of their pitching, but by committing two costly fielding errors in the process. There was one bright spot: San Antonio's explosive, eight-run top of the seventh. The barrage of runs featured the as-of-yet unstoppable outfielder Greg Jacobs hitting a grand slam and the Missions' order batting around.

While one of the two victories San Antonio would claim over Midland was yet another 8-7 slugfest, their 3-2 win on Saturday demonstrated that quality pitching does, in fact, exist on the S.A. squad. Glenn Bott went 4.2 innings and gave up only two runs, and Tim Rall, in particular, was bedazzling; the right-handed hurler struck out six and gave up only one hit in his 2.1 inning performance. In the end, though, it was Emiliano Fruto who earned the victory. Fruto was the pitcher of record when John Lindsey hit a go-ahead solo homer in the ninth.


Jacobs' Field

San Antonio's right-fielder Greg Jacobs is off to what could be described, with only a grain of hyperbole, as an almost superhuman start.

His batting average is .818 and his slugging percentage 2.091, a performance that has so far earned him 23 total bases and created 19.5 runs for his Missions. Despite having batted less than half as many times as second-place John Baker (11 to Baker's 23), he's tied for the Texas League lead in RBIs with eight (Round Rock's David Matranga, who's batted 27 times, shares the position) and the home run lead with three. His ninth-inning, three-run blast in Wednesday's 8-3 trouncing of El Paso served as the nail in the Diablos' coffin and extended his home run streak to three straight games.

Notes: The Missions have belted 11 homeruns in their six games… Pitcher Troy Cate, while having started two games and pitching a combined 10 innings for an ERA of 2.70, has yet to earn a decision…Ron Gandolfo, San Antonio's starting second-baseman, hasn't played since injuring a hamstring in Friday's game…Bott, who figured to be one of the Mission's top two starting pitchers this year, was traded to Los Angeles late Monday for RHP Aaron Looper.

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