RHP Chris Smith, 34, a veteran of 12 minor league seasons and last year with AAA El Paso, made his first start of the year in AA and turned in a beauty as he threw six shutout innings with seven strikeouts against a pair of walks and one hit.
“I’m kind of glad he gave up that hit,” said Missions’ manager Jamie Quirk. “He was scheduled to go six and I’ve never had to take a guy out before that was throwing a no-hitter.”
“He was outstanding.”
Unfortunately home team’s bats were not. SS Trea Turner was the only Mission to get any hits with a pair of singles and gave them there only real chance of scoring in the seventh inning.
Turner, who is one of the faster players in the league, drew an errant pick-off attempt by the pitcher and was able to advance all the way to third base just get under the tag.
“You have to be aggressive in a tight game when you are only down by one run,” said Turner on why he was so aggressive.
“You don’t want to take dumb chances but I knew it would be hard for them to run to get the ball and throw across their body.”
Despite Turner’s heady play, and Hunter Renfroe drawing one of San Antonio’s two walks on the day, the Missions failed to capitalize with runners on first and third with only one out as RF Yeison Ascencio lined out and DH Alberth Martinez hit a soft roller to second.
After Smith threw his six innings RHP Casey Kelly, despite striking out four batters, gave up a pair of runs as the RoughRiders’ left-handed batters hit three doubles and a single against him.
This season right-handed batters are hitting .147 against him, while lefties are hitting .347. The two runs today were the first earned runs scored against him since April 19 - or in his past nine appearances.
CF Travis Jankowski is having an outstanding season with a .333/.412/.423 line, but Turner is the one that sets most of the scouts’ hearts aflutter.
“He just does everything right,” said one scout on what he has seen of him this year.
“Defensively he has one of the best internal clocks on getting rid of the ball quickly and he has some amazing baseball instincts on the bases.”
The problem is, as the Washington Post noted in their spring article, he was the key part in getting the Washington Nationals to part with OF Steven Souza, that allowed San Diego to acquire OF Wil Myers from Tampa Bay.
This season Turner is hitting .340/.420/.524, is fourth in the league in batting average and slugging percentage and has made only three errors in 39 games.
“I wrote down on my scorecard today he is the best player on the field,” said Quirk.
“And it’s not the first or the last time I will write it.”