Welcoming that winning feeling

Nashville rides seven-run inning to a 7-3 victory

(Reynaldo Holguin )

By Jerry Briggs / San Antonio Missions | April 13, 2019 3:30 AM

The luckless Nashville Sounds arrived in San Antonio having lost six of their first eight games.

Given their rocky start, they figured that a Friday night game at Wolff Stadium would be as good a time as any to see a few breaks go their way.

The Sounds capitalized on a few defensive lapses by the Missions to score seven runs in the eighth inning, claiming a 7-3 victory in front of 4,542 fans.

"It felt great," Sounds first baseman Matt Davidson said. "It's been a little tough. Things really haven't been clicking for us. So, it was great to score all those runs with two outs. It's good for us, and hopefully it gets the ball rolling."

Davidson, a former Chicago White Sox slugger, highlighted the outburst with a three-run, opposite-field homer that hit the scoreboard beyond the right field fence.

"It was a fast ball down," he said. "I felt pretty good with it. Just trying to stay simple and not do too much."

For the Missions, it was the most runs allowed in an inning all season, and it doomed them to their second loss in two nights.

It all started to come unraveled with a potential, inning-ending ground ball that kicked up off the lip of the grass and got away from shortstop Tyler Saladino.

Later, Mauricio Dubon, playing second base, fielded a grounder in the hole between first and second and threw wide of the pitcher covering first for a two-base error.

As a result, the downward spiral continued, with Davidson slamming his first homer as a member of the Rangers' organization since the White Sox failed to tender a contract offer to him last offseason.

Saladino, who has played with Davidson on the White Sox, credited his former teammate for muscling the ball out of the park.

"That one was pretty impressive, going to the opposite field," Saladino said. "He hit it off the scoreboard like that. That shows how much power he has."

Overall, Nashville out-hit San Antonio (11-5) and made fewer mistakes in the field (zero errors, to two).

But in spite of all that, it was a game that the Missions easily could have won.

Why? Because they hit three home runs, by Saladino, Keston Hiura and Tyrone Taylor, and because starting pitcher Aaron Wilkerson spun his second straight strong game to open the season.

As Wilkerson sailed into the seventh inning, Saladino energized the crowd in the bottom of the seventh with the most entertaining play of the night - an inside-the-park home run.

He smacked it into the gap in right-center and started sprinting. On contact, center fielder Zack Granite and right fielder Carlos Tocci both converged, trying to make a play. The result was a collision that left both of them sprawling.

Eventually, Tocci picked up the ball and threw side-armed to second baseman Nolan Fontana, who wheeled and fired to catcher Jett Bandy.

Saladino jumped over Bandy's outstretched arms and glove and came down in a pile at the plate, with umpire Roberto Ortiz giving the safe sign.

Later, Davidson said outside the Nashville dressing room that he was happy for Saladino to get the homer. But, he said he thinks his former White Sox teammate was out at home.

"I think the catcher tagged him," Davidson said.

In the Missions' dressing area, Saladino laughed at the comment, noting, "Well, that's too bad."

"I jumped right over (the tag) and was able to get my hand on the plate, too," he said.

Wilkerson worked 6.1 scoreless innings. In two starts, he's pitched 11.1 innings, giving up only one run on five hits.

Most of the Nashville hitters made contact, but, because of Wilkerson's command, they just couldn't generate any offense.

"That's what he is," Sweet said. "He knows what kind of pitcher he is. He mixes his pitches and he hits his spots."

Missions notes

The Sounds (3-6) and the Missions (5-4) play three more times in the series. They'll play Saturday at 7:05 p.m., and then on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Monday's finale will start at 11:05 a.m.

Burch Smith will get the start for the Missions on Saturday, with major league, all-star reliever Jeremy Jeffress also scheduled to throw on his rehabilitation assignment.

Corey Ray, the Brewers' No. 2-rated prospect, went 0-for-4 against the Sounds, making him 0-for-17 on the homestand, with nine strikeouts.

A .239 hitter with 27 home runs last year in Double A, he is batting .125 this season and hasn't hit a homer.

Ray isn't the only player struggling. As a team, the Missions are 16th out of 16 PCL teams with a .222 batting average.

 

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

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