Aiming for a return to the majors

Shaw drives in two as Missions rally past Nashville, 7-5

By Jerry Briggs / San Antonio Missions | July 18, 2019 4:15 AM

Stung by a demotion from the Milwaukee Brewers to the minor leagues last month, Missions slugger Travis Shaw admitted that it took a few days to sort out his feelings.

"Originally, I was pretty (ticked) off," he said. "I had a couple of days were I just kind of checked out before I came down here. So, I got my mindset where it needed to be, and, for me, it was a mission to try to get back up there (to the majors) as quick as possible."

Shaw took another step in that direction Wednesday night at Wolff Stadium, blasting a two-run double to spark a four-run fifth inning in the Missions' 7-5 Pacific Coast League victory over the Nashville Sounds.

In all, the Missions pounded out 14 hits, improving to 7-0 on the homestand and tying a season high with their seventh straight victory.

During that streak, which includes four wins over Omaha and three over Nashville, Shaw has hit three home runs and a double, while producing 12 RBI.

After Wednesday's performance, the 29-year-old Ohio native acknowledged that he feels as comfortable at the plate as he did in the past two seasons with the Brewers, when he clubbed more than 30 homers each year.

"I'm in a really good spot right now, seeing the ball well and impacting the ball in the strike zone, which is what was missing this year," Shaw said. "I feel like that's back, and I'm making good decisions. I'm very pleased with where I (am), and I'll just wait for the opportunity."

Trailing 4-2 going into the bottom of the fifth, the Missions tied it when Shaw pulled a pitch from Nashville starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx into the right field corner.

They took the lead for good at 6-4 after Troy Stokes, Jr., and Jacob Nottingham hit back-to-back, run-scoring doubles off former Missions' reliever Jake Petricka.

After that, the bullpen took charge, limiting the Sounds to one run the rest of the way.

In the ninth inning, the Missions' pitching and defense both sparkled. Closer Taylor Williams opened by issuing a walk to Jose Trevino, which brought the potential tying run to the plate.

But on the next play, Missions' first baseman Hernan Perez made a difficult stop on a Carlos Tocci ground ball and started a double play.

Williams struck out Scott Heineman to end the game, earning his sixth save and securing the victory for starting pitcher Aaron Wilkerson (7-1, 3.10).

In his second start since returning from a few weeks with the Brewers as a little-used reliever, Wilkerson yielded four runs in five innings. He struck out six and walked none in outdueling Bibens-Dirkx (0-2, 5.30).

"I thought Wilkerson was much sharper in this game than he was last game," Missions manager Rick Sweet said. "You know, he had all that time off in the big leagues. It's tough. If you're a starter and you don't get to throw and you don't get to throw sides … because you got to be available for long relief, it's tough on you.

"But I thought tonight he was really sharp. He's pretty much back to where he was a couple of weeks ago."

Sweet applauded Shaw for staying focused and not letting the demotion negatively affect his work ethic and his day-to-day training.

"He had two choices," Sweet said. "To come down and get to work and fix it, which he has done, or to come down and pout.

"When (veteran) guys come down … the first week to ten days are the most important time.

"That's why I really focus on them, to make sure they're comfortable and I'm doing everything I can, so they get off to a good start."

Back on July 3, the Brewers designated Perez for assignment. He accepted his outright assignment to the Missions, who are in their first year as a Brewers farm club since the early 1970s.

Batting .200, Perez isn't hitting the ball as well as Shaw. But Sweet said the 28-year-old Venezuela native has made progress.

"He's getting back to where he was before, when he was really good," Sweet said. "They're both getting their game back together."

PCL standings

American Southern Division - San Antonio 61-36, Round Rock 57-40, New Orleans 52-45, Oklahoma City 42-54.

American Northern Division - Iowa 55-42, Omaha 44-53, Nashville 40-56, Memphis 38-59.

Note: Winners of the American Southern and American Northern divisions meet in the first round of the playoffs after a 140-game schedule.

Charting the record

The Missions have reached the 60-victory plateau earlier in the summer than any team in franchise history since 2011, when the ball club, then in the Texas League, won 60 by July 10.

At 61-36, the Missions have moved 25 games over .500 for the first time this season.

They own the best record in the 16-team PCL. They also own the best record in all of Triple-A, which includes the 14-team International League.

Coming up

Homestand and series finale: Nashville (Wes Benjamin) at San Antonio (TBD), Thursday, 7:05 p.m.

Lefties all right

Three left-handed batters have been tearing it up for the Missions on the homestand. Trent Grisham is 14 for 31 with four homers. Cory Spangenberg is 13 for 33 with a homer and two doubles. Also, Shaw is nine for 22 with three homers and a double.

By the numbers

The Missions have produced 82 hits in 241 at bats on the homestand for a .340 average…The defense has strung together three straight games and four out of five without an error.

 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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