Missions Notebook

The San Antonio Missions are used to facing Midland and El Paso, having played only those two teams over the first 18 games of the season. With the long stretch over, the Missions head to Wichita, but not before InsidethePark.com's Joe Ruiz runs down the lastest happenings in San Antonio.

While it's always a good idea to see how you perform against another team multiple times, this is getting ridiculous. It's not even through April and already the San Antonio Missions have completed both a 10-day road trip and an 8-day homestand against only two teams: the Midland Rockhounds and the El Paso Diablos.

San Antonio entered their series with the Diablos at 8-5 in second place behind the division-leading Round Rock Express. By the end of the four-game series, not much changed from a standing standpoint. San Antonio took three of four from El Paso, and remains in second place.

Hitting was the name of the game for the Missions against the Diablos. As simple as that sounds, it's true. The Mission's sole loss was the result of a lack of timely hitting.

Manager Dave Brundage talked about what he's seen from his team so far with four series' under the team's belt.

"We're starting to hit the ball well," the skipper said.

Although not limited in choices, Brundage singled out Dustin Delucchi and Shin-soo Choo, both outfielders, as Missions that have swung the lumber well in April.

"Delucchi's been a catalyst for us," Brundage said. "Choo's also seeing the ball well."

The most entertaining game of the series was Sunday night.

Rafael Soriano pitched 6.0 strong innings and allowed only one run on three hits while striking out eight Diablos. While Soriano pitched very well, he was still upstaged by El Paso's Adriano Rosario. Rosario has already been pegged as one of Arizona's top prospects, and rightfully so. Rosario struck out 12 Missions in 7.0 innings of work.

Then, El Paso went to the bullpen. Big mistake.

As they have so many times this season, the Missions hung around long enough to get to the bullpen and did their damage late. They pulled ahead with three runs in the eighth off of Doug Slaten and hung on for a 3-1 win.

Nearly every game in this series was competitive from the get-go, and different Missions players have stepped up in each game – a great sign for the two-time defending Texas League Champs.

"It hasn't been pretty, but we're winning," Brundage said.

He wasn't kidding.

Throwing errors and baserunning blunders plagued the Missions in the series, but San Antonio's ability to take advantage of the Diablos mistakes more than made up.

"We've got to eliminate the mental mistakes," Brundage said.

Missions of the Series:

Dustin Delucchi continued to take advantage of the leadoff spot and swung the bat with a vengeance this series. Delucchi fought the "Wolff Winds" and hit his first home run of the season during Saturday's 3-2 win. The outfielder batted 7-for-15 with one home run, two doubles and three runs scored.

Infielder/DH John Lindsey receives the honorable mention by hitting 5-for 13 with a double and two RBI.

On the mound, two relievers share pitcher of the series honors. Closer Jared Hoerman pitched 2.2 innings of relief while striking out three batters, earning a pair of saves in the series. Hoerman has six saves, which is good enough for second in the Texas League. Reliever Rick Guttormson pitched 3.1 innings without surrendering a run and picked up his first win of the short season in Sunday's come-from-behind 3-1 victory.

Hoerman's pitching is already returning to the form that allowed him to lead the Texas League in saves last season.

"I'm feeling more comfortable out there," said Hoerman, an Ardmore, Okla.. native. "I'm working with my strengths and if it doesn't work, there's another night. I'm not afraid to fail."

On the Road Again:

San Antonio's dreams of Diablos and Rockhounds dancing in their head are over for the time-being. The Missions left Monday to begin a four-game series against the Wichita Wranglers and will finish the road trip with four games against the Tulsa Drillers.

San Antonio returns to the friendly confines May 6 against Wichita.

Joe Ruiz teams with Joe Weiss each week here at InsidethePark.com as your top sources to Missions baseball. Send Ruiz any questions you may have at JoeRuiz@InsidethePark.com.

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