Rising up to showcase multiple skills

Hernandez hits two homers as Fresno beats S.A.,11-10

(Reynaldo Holguin )

By Jerry Briggs / San Antonio Missions | August 5, 2019 3:04 AM

Yadiel Hernandez was quiet at the plate for a few days in San Antonio, but on Sunday he beat the Missions with both his bat and his arm.

On offense, the Fresno Grizzlies' outfielder belted two home runs.

Defensively, the 31-year-old from Matanzas, Cuba, made the play of the night from right field with a throw to the plate that cut off a run.

With Hernandez leading the way, the Grizzlies toppled the Missions 11-10 at Wolff Stadium to break out of an eight-game losing streak.

"We've been on kind of a rough spot here," Grizzlies manager Randy Knorr said. "When we were hitting, we didn't pitch it and then when we pitched it, we didn't get the big hits we needed. We really needed that one."

For most of the year, Hernandez has played well for the Grizzlies, the Washington Nationals' Triple-A affiliate.

But before his two-homer showing against the Missions, he had been hitless for the last six games.

"He kind of went into a lull there for a little bit," Knorr said. "He started thinking he missed a couple of chances to get called up. Sometimes these players, you know, they get passed by, and they're having a good year. You just got to re-set.

"We had a conversation. I said, 'You got one month left. They're going to expand the rosters at the end of August, and you want to be ready when they do that. Whatever you got on your mind, you got to push (it) behind you.

"Give yourself one more month to play, and do the best you can.' "

Hernandez didn't start the first game of the Missions' series Friday, walking as a pinch hitter in his only at bat, as the Grizzlies lost 1-0 in 10 innings.

On Saturday, as the Missions won again 3-2 in 12 innings, Hernandez went 0-for-5 and struck out four times.

Finally, he unloaded on Sunday, hitting a two-run homer to the opposite field in left in the first inning off Thomas Jankins.

Hernandez struck again in the seventh, smashing a solo shot to right against Bubba Derby.

In the eighth, he completed a fine defensive play when the pressure was on, fielding Lucas Erceg's single in right field and then firing to catcher Joe Gushue, who tagged a sliding Troy Stokes, Jr., for the third out.

For the Missions, several players played well in the loss.

David Freitas homered and doubled in a three-hit performance. Troy Stokes also had three hits and matched Freitas with two RBI..

In his first start in a week, Lucas Erceg also had a couple of hits and drove in two.

Cory Spangenberg, meanwhile, produced two hits and used his speed to steal two bases and score three runs. Additionally, Nate Orf, Tyrone Taylor, and Jake Hager all had two hits, as well.

Trailing by two entering the bottom of the ninth, the Missions rallied against the Grizzlies, who brought in Dakota Bacus to close.

Hager led off with a single to right, moved to second on a balk and to third on a ground ball.

At that point, Bacus seemed to lose his command, opening the door for the Missions.

He walked Orf and then gave up an RBI single to Taylor, which scored Hager and pulled the home team to within one run.

At that point, with Orf at second and Taylor at first, Bacus got tough. He struck out pinch hitter Corey Ray and got Freitas to line out to center to end it.

The fourth and final game of the series is at 11:05 a.m. Monday.

PCL standings

American Southern Division - San Antonio 70-43, Round Rock 67-45, New Orleans 60-51, Oklahoma City 52-60.

Pacific Northern Division - Sacramento 61-52, Fresno 54-59, Reno 52-61, Tacoma 52-61.

Tough loss

The Missions lost a game in which they scored 10 or more runs for the first time since Aug. 3, 2018 at Midland when they fell 13-11.

Home-run city

The Grizzlies hit four homers on the night. Hernandez's two boosted his total to 22 on the season. Taylor Gushue and Drew Ward also hit one apiece.

Series finale

The Missions are scheduled to pitch Corbin Burnes as an opener for about three innings in Monday's series finale.

Saladino, who hit 14 homers for the Missions earlier this season, has been optioned down from the parent-club Milwaukee Brewers.

But Sweet said he wanted to talk to utility man Tyler Saladino before putting him in the lineup.

Eye on Round Rock

The Round Rock Express have won of three at home against the Sacramento River Cats. The River Cats won 4-3 in the series opener Friday.

But the Express rallied to claim a 10-9 decision on Saturday after trailing by 9-4. On Sunday, the Express won again, posting a 7-3 victory to pull within 2 and ½ games of the Missions in the American Southern Division.

The Express will host the River Cats in the series finale Monday.

Flags at half-staff

Flags flew at half-staff at Wolff Stadium on Sunday night.

Earlier in the day, President Trump issued a proclamation for all flags to be lowered after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.

A moment of silence was observed before the national anthem.

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

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