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Diaz Spins Quality Start in Series Finale

May 21, 2024

Amarillo, Texas (May 19, 2024) – Amarillo ended their final game before a two-week road trip with a 3-2 loss to the Frisco RoughRiders on Sunday afternoon. Yilber Diaz was stellar once again for the Sod Poodles delivering his third quality start in his last four games. The D-backs no.

Amarillo, Texas (May 19, 2024) – Amarillo ended their final game before a two-week road trip with a 3-2 loss to the Frisco RoughRiders on Sunday afternoon. Yilber Diaz was stellar once again for the Sod Poodles delivering his third quality start in his last four games.

The D-backs no. 16-rated prospect saw each of the first two Riders he faced single to place runners on the corners as he had early trouble to navigate. A sac fly brought home the first run of the day before Diaz found a way to retire each of the next two he faced including his first strikeout.

For the Sod Poodles on offense, the leadoff man in each of the first two innings was able to reach but were quickly erased as double plays followed them. A two-out single in the bottom of the third proved too little, too late to get some run support for Diaz as the game remained 1-0. The first true scoring opportunity came in the fourth when a couple of walks were both pushed into scoring position via a balk. Consecutive strikeouts dealt by Emiliano Teodo kept the Sod Poodles from being able to scratch across a run to bring things level.

Diaz had his full pitch mix working in the middle innings. The right-hander retired 13 in a row including everyone he faced in innings four through six, racking up six strikeouts during the stretch. More walks from Teodo in the fifth put another two Sod Poodles on base but a caught stealing and back-to-back two-out groundouts stymied the bats as they searched for their first run. Facing a new arm on the mound proved to be just what the bats needed in the home half of the sixth. A two-out walk drawn by Caleb Roberts meant that Ivan Melendez got to head to the plate to face Frisco's Steven Jennings. The D-backs' no. 8-rated prospect needed to see just one pitch to give the Sod Poodles their first lead of the game. He ambushed a fastball and sent it off the top of the batter's eye in center field for his seventh home run of the season.

With Diaz still on the mound, Josh Hatcher ended the run of 13 straight being retired, and 19-of-20 overall after the first two batters of the game singled. Hatcher knotted things up with a solo shot and also brought an end to Diaz's day on the mound. Former RoughRider John Matthews took over in relief for Amarillo and plunked the first batter he faced. A single followed as Riders were on the corners with still just one out. Melendez started a fielder's choice to catch the potential go-ahead run in between third and home. Matthews pitched his way out of the jam with a strikeout to keep things all square.

Going down in order in the bottom of the seventh, Amarillo sent a new reliever to face the Riders to begin the eighth. Will Mabrey was greeted with a leadoff double and saw the go-ahead run move to third on a passed ball. What appeared to be the second out of the inning on a strikeout was instead ruled a balk, bringing home the go-ahead run for the Riders. A flyball and called third strike got the Amarillo left-hander out of the inning without allowing Frisco to add to their lead.

Two Soddies reached in the eighth with a leadoff A.J. Vukovich single getting things started for Amarillo as they geared up their comeback hopes. Roberts worked his way aboard for the fourth time without registering a hit as a hit by pitch put the lefty on base. Amarillo once again was unable to capitalize with a runner in scoring position seeing the final two of the frame go down on strikes. Conor Grammes worked the ninth for the Sod Poodles. A leadoff single became a runner at second with Hatcher swiping second to get into scoring position. Grammes placed another on board with a walk before rattling off three straight outs to keep it 3-2 and give the offense a chance to tie/win the game in the bottom of the ninth.

The Amarillo bats went down in order as the Riders claimed a series split and kept Amarillo still in search of their first series win of the year.

The Sod Poodles will head to the natural state to begin a two-week road trip against some Texas League North Division foes. Amarillo will face the NW Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City) in the first six before heading to Little Rock to square off in a Texas League Championship rematch against the Arkansas Travelers for the first time since last September. First pitch on Tuesday against NW Arkansas is scheduled for 11:05 a.m.


KING OF THE HILL WITH A CAPITAL K: RHP Yilber Diaz worked another quality start for the Sod Poodles on the mound. The D-backs no. 16-rated prospect added eight more strikeouts to his season total to give him 62 in eight starts. His final line on Sunday read 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 8 K, 0 BB. It was the third straight game that Sod Poodles starting pitching hadn't issued a walk. Diaz's 62 strikeouts in 41.1 IP are the second most in all Double-A and tops in the Texas League in 2024. He has struck out at least eight in six of his eight starts to begin the year. Sunday was his third quality start of the season with all three coming in his last four games. He is tied with Dylan File for the most quality starts on the club this year.

THE BIG TEXAN WITH THE BIG FLY: Ivan Melendez bookended his week against the Riders with a homer on Sunday, his third of the series. His sixth-inning shot off the top of the batter's eye at the time gave Amarillo their first lead of the game. It was the seventh round-tripper of the year for the D-backs' no. 8-rated prospect, good for T-5th in the Texas League and T-9th overall in Double-A. Melendez finished the week going 7-for-20 (.350) with three homers, a double, seven RBI, three walks, and four runs scored.

THE OL' ARM BARN: RHP John Matthews and LHP Will Mabrey each extended their current streaks without allowing an earned run. For Matthews, after working 0.2 IP in relief of Diaz, his streak currently sits at eight games without allowing an earned run. Since April 19th, the right-hander has worked 8.1 IP while allowing just five hits and added his seventh strikeout of the stretch in a big moment, leaving a pair of Riders stranded in scoring position. Mabrey extended his streak to nine games, currently the second-longest on the team and 4th longest active streak in the Texas League. He is at 8.2 IP without allowing an earned run dating back to April 24th.

A SPLIT, HOLD THE BANANAS: With the loss in the finale, Amarillo is still in search of their first series win of the year and sit at 16-23 overall. The Sod Poodles are now 0-3-4 in their first seven series to begin the year. The Sunday loss drops the team to 1-6 on Sundays this year and 1-5 overall in game six of the series. Amarillo split their road series in Corpus Christi after dropping the final two games to the Hooks with a chance to win the series and after Sunday, are 0-4 in games where they have needed a win to secure their first series win.