Struggling on the homestand

Missions drop five out of nine games at the Wolff

(Reynaldo Holguin )

By San Antonio Missions | July 4, 2019 3:35 AM

In the wake of a 4-5 record on the homestand, it's apparent that the Missions aren't hitting the ball very well, and they haven't pitched nearly as consistently as they once did when they were rolling toward the best record in the Pacific Coast League.

Their lead in the American Southern Division, once at 4 and ½ games, has been reduced to a half game over the Round Rock Express.

But with a four-game road series at New Orleans starting Thursday night, Missions manager Rick Sweet isn't overly concerned.

He seems to think players who are struggling will come around.

Even after his ejection Wednesday night in the first inning of what turned out to be a 5-2 loss to the Iowa Cubs, he just tried to make the best of it.

Sweet watched the game on television from his office.

He soaked up the air conditioning and even got a head start on his daily report for the parent-club Milwaukee Brewers.

The break from his usual grind seemed to give him a fresh perspective on what needs to happen for his team to start turning it around.  

In his postgame interview, he was asked particularly about the struggles of an offense that scored only seven runs in its last three games.

"A lot of it is the changing (personnel) of our club," Sweet said. "We've got to get Tyrone (Taylor) and Travis Shaw, (going). We need to get both of them (going). I see both of them doing good things. We need to get them back on track.

"Quite frankly, it was different being in here, getting to watch the TV feed, rather than being out there … I got to see some replays … We've got some guys that are getting closer, getting better. Obviously, we're not swinging the bats as well as we have, at times."

During the homestand, the Missions split four games against Round Rock. They followed by losing three of five against Iowa.

A lack of offense was the culprit most of the time.

They scored 10 runs twice - once each in victories over Round Rock and Iowa. But outside of those blowout victories, they were held to three runs or less in the remaining seven games.   

For the nine-game stretch, they averaged four runs per outing, which is well off their season-long pace of 5.1.

Missions shortstop Mauricio Dubon tried his best to explain what happened in the homestand finale, when the Missions had a chance to clinch the series against the Cubs -- and came up with only three hits.

"It's baseball," Dubon said. "It happens. It can happen to anybody. It's a team sport. We didn't hit. We didn't hit. At the end of the day, that's what happened."

The game got off to a bumpy start for the Missions when the Cubs scored a run in the top of the first with the help of two questionable calls that brought Sweet out of the dugout to argue.

He was tossed after the second discussion.

"I gave 'em the first call that they blew, and I wasn't going to give 'em the second call, it was that simple,"' Sweet said. "I cut 'em some slack on the first call. Two calls like that in one inning - inexcusable."

Iowa pitcher Colin Rea, formerly of the Missions, won his 10th game and improved to a sparkling 10-2.

In a dominant performance, Rea shut down the Missions on two runs and two hits in 6 and 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-5 right-hander struck out six and walked three.

Speaking with reporters in the visitors' dugout afterward, he said he feels fully recovered from elbow surgery that knocked him out of the 2017 season.

"I think me and (catcher Francisco) Arcia were just changing speeds really well in the zone," Rea said. "(We were) attacking with the fastball. The fastball had really good life today, probably the best of the year."

Losing three top players

The Missions once had a 47-26 record and a seven-game winning streak. Since then, they have dropped eight of 13 games. During that time, pitcher Aaron Wilkerson and sluggers Keston Hiura and Tyler Saladino have been called up to the Brewers. Wilkerson was called up on June 22. Hiura and Saladino were called up on June 27.

PCL standings

American Southern Division - San Antonio 52-34, Round Rock 51-34, New Orleans 47-39, Oklahoma City 34-50.

American Northern Division - Iowa 49-37, Nashville 38-47, Omaha 38-48, Memphis 35-51.

Note: Division winners from the American Southern and American Northern meet in the first round of the playoffs.

Making room for Hernan Perez

Former Milwaukee Brewers utility specialist Hernan Perez will join the Missions in New Orleans, manager Rick Sweet said.

Perez has played 606 games in the major leagues and is a .254 career hitter.   He played 59 games this year and hit .235.

The 28-year-old from Venezuela accepted an outright assignment to the Missions after recently clearing waivers.

Last week, he was designated for assignment by the Brewers.

"He got ahold of me early this morning (and) said he was coming," Sweet said. "He's super utility. Played everything in the big leagues. I don't think he's caught. But he's their emergency pitcher. He's everything."

Three prominent newcomers

Perez joins pitcher Drew Smyly as former major league veterans set to join the Missions on their four-game trip to New Orleans.  

Smyly, a left-handed starter, is coming in as a free agent after spending the first few months of the season with the Texas Rangers.

When Perez and Smyly are activated, they'll join infielder Travis Shaw on the Missions' 25-man roster.

Shaw, who plays both third and first base, has produced one hit - a single -- in 10 at bats in his first three games. He's struck out five times.

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

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