As would be expected for a Double-A team which is a perpetual work in progress playing its first home series of the season, the Amarillo Sod Poodles had mixed results this past week at Hodgetown.
The Sod Poodles had already guaranteed themselves of no worse than a series split with the Corpus Christi Hooks heading into the final game of their six-game series Sunday afternoon. That’s what they had to settle for, as the Hooks scored the first eight runs and the Soddies couldn’t amount enough of a comeback to fall 11-5.
It typified the flashes of potential the Sod Poodles (5-4) have showed so far this very young season, with a couple of big home runs late to get back in the game. But there was also an offensive dry spell for six innings which spelled doom.
Prior to Sunday, the Soddies split a pair of 13-10 games, and in the other three games the winner scored five runs. Half of the games in the series saw at least one of the teams score in double digits.
“We did a lot of things really well this week,” Sod Poodles manager Shawn Roof said. “There are a lot of things to be proud of and build off of. Obviously there are some things we want to clean up in all facets of the game. All the way through the rest of the year that’s what we’re going to be talking about.”
The series began in much the same way it ended, at least in terms of pitching matchups. Right-hander Chad Patrick, who started the home opener against the Hooks (3-6) on Tuesday, took to the mound again against Corpus Christi’s Angel Macuare, who pitched four innings of relief in that game to earn the save for the Hooks in a 5-4 win.
Patrick threw 4 1/3 strong innings in his first Double-A start, although he took the loss. He didn’t have quite that success in the series finale, as Corpus leadoff hitter Will Wagner set the tone for a huge day by leading off the game with a double and scoring on Quincy Hamilton’s double.
The Soddies never led in the game, and Patrick had a tougher outing his second time at Hodgetown. He lasted only 3 1/3 innings and gave up eight hits to take the loss.
“He just left some pitches over the heart of the plate,” said Roof of Patrick. “He wasn’t able to put away some hitters late in the count. There’s some things we’ve got to work on and improve on, but there’s a lot to build on for next week.”
While the Hooks built a 4-0 lead off Patrick, the Soddies got little going at the plate against Macuare. Ryan Bliss led off the bottom of the first with single off Macuare and Deyvison De Los Santos singled with two outs, but the Sod Poodles got nothing off Macuare after that.
Macuare pitched four innings and retired the last 10 hitters he faced. Reliever Jaime Melendez came on and helped continue a string where the Hooks retired 17 of 18 Amarillo hitters.
“Their starter did a really good job today so tip your hat to them,” Roof said. “I still feel like we should be able to put some more runs on (Macuare), but they put together good at-bats. That’s how baseball goes, sometimes you get ‘em and sometimes you don’t. Try to get them the next time.”
With one out in the bottom of the seventh and trailing 8-0, the Sod Poodles did get Melendez. Tristin English and A.J. Vukovich, both of whom played in Amarillo last season, belted homers on back-to-back pitches to get the Sod Poodles on the board and cut it to 8-2. But that six-run margin was as close as they got.
Wagner, meanwhile, had a career day against Amarillo pitching. He went 5-for-5, scoring two runs and driving in three. Appropriately, he capped Corpus Christi’s scoring with a solo homer in the ninth, and was a triple short of the cycle.
Big leaguer Mantiply impresses in two wins
History was made in the first series of the season, and not just because the Soddies made their debut as the Calf Fries on Saturday night, which will happen again this season. On that night, left-hander Joe Mantiply picked up his second win of the series on rehab assignment from the Sod Poodles parent club Arizona Diamondbacks.
Mantiply, a relief specialist who was selected for the All-Star Game last year with the Diamondbacks, pitched a scoreless inning of relief in Wednesday night’s 13-10 win, which gave Mantiply the victory. It was a fitting way for Mantiply to take the field at Hodgetown as the first Diamondbacks player to make a rehab assignment in Amarillo.
“I felt good,” said Mantiply, who’s rehabbing a inflamed left shoulder. “I’d been throwing a lot and took a few days off. I felt like executed pretty well even though I got behind a guy. I was able to get back in there and get an out.”
Mantiply made his second scheduled appearance as a Calf Fry on Saturday, and he threw two innings this time. He threw another perfect inning to start, but gave up a double and an infield single in his second inning. However, he induced a double play groundout to escape the inning and was the winning pitcher in a 5-3 victory.
His stay in Amarillo was an eye-opener for Mantiply.
“I’ve driven past Amarillo but I’ve never really been here,” Mantiply said. “I’ve heard throughout the organization about how the ball flies here, so it’s not the most ideal place to pitch. I’m a fan of Texas so it’s nice to get out here and see a different park. I’ve never played in this (Texas) League before so it was a new experience.”
By the way, the calf fries, which will be a Hodgetown Saturday night concession stand special on various weekends this season, sold out by the eighth inning.
Vukovich has big weekend
Vukovich is another player who seems like he’s comfortable at Double-A in a second go-around. He had a big weekend, as he had three RBIs both Saturday (most notably a two-run single which gave the Sod Poodles a much-needed cushion) and Sunday.