The first four Aces hitters scored Sunday afternoon, putting the Chihuahuas in an early hole they couldn’t overcome. While Matt Magill locked in after the first frame, El Paso came up short 4-3 in the second game of their series with the Diamondbacks’ top affiliate.
Magill, who has been impressive in the early going after signing as a minor league free agent late in the winter, was charged with two earned runs in the first frame, but things could have gone much more favorably.
After a seeing-eye single up the middle by Ildemaro Vargas to open the game, Magill got the double play grounder he was looking for off the bat of Ketel Marte. But a clean relay from Cory Spangenberg went right through second baseman Diego Goris into right field, putting runners at first and third.
“My defense has been picking me up all year. They’ve been making some great plays behind me,” said Magill. “So it’s my job, I need to do a better job of making pitches to get out of that inning without giving up any runs.”
Instead, Christian Walker flared a first pitch fastball into left for an RBI single, and then Magill left a ball over the plate that Orlando Arcia pulled down the line for an RBI double. The Aces stayed aggressive against Magill, as Carlos Rivera hit a sacrifice fly on the first pitch he saw, and Kris Negron followed a strikeout with a single to make it 4-0.
In an early hole, Magill went back out in the second and settled into a real rhythm.
“After the first inning, I was like, ‘Okay Matt, you can go out and have a great outing. You could show the coaches that you’re here to play and want to help the team win, or you can fold like you have in the past,’” said Magill. “It was time to buckle down.”
From the second through seventh innings, Magill allowed just four singles, none hit hard, and hit one batter.
El Paso got one run back quickly in the bottom of the first, but missed out on a key chance to score more.
After Aces starter Anthony Banda walked Jose Pirela with one out, Cory Spangenberg jumped on an 0-1 fastball for a triple to deep center. But even after another walk to Jabari Blash, Spangenberg was stranded at third.
The Chihuahuas had another opportunity in the fourth after a one-out double to right by Dusty Coleman, but Diego Goris follow with a line drive that was snared by the Aces third baseman, who easily doubled Coleman off to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Jabari Blash launched a moonshot home run the opposite way, bouncing the ball off the upper level of seating in the “Big Dog House” building. But the team never managed to score another, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position for the day.
Spangenberg finished the day 2-for-4, both hits coming against Banda, who was throwing 94 from the left side. As impressive as he’s been overall at the plate so far, he’s been even better against lefties, posting a .412/.444/.529 line in 17 at-bats. … Phil Maton worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning that included one strikeout. Atypically, he showed his slider three consecutive pitches against Negron before a 94 MPH fastball for the swinging third strike. … The Aces feature a number of former Padres. Reymond Fuentes was patrolling center field alongside Arcia, and Erik Davis, a member of the Padres’ 2008 draft class, made a one-out appearance. Keyvius Sampson will be the only Aces starter not to appear in the series. ... Blash finished the day with a "full Jabari"; he had the homer, a strikeout, and two walks in his four trips to the plate.