Jabari Blash and Ryan Schimpf both had three singles and a home run in the El Paso Chihuahuas’ 11-5 win over the Fresno Grizzlies Sunday night at Chukchansi Park.
Rafael Ortega started the top of the third with a 12-pitch walk and later scored on Christian Villanueva’s RBI single. Later in the third, Schimpf and Blash hit back-to-back-home runs, the first pair of Chihuahuas back-to-back homers since Nick Schultz and Dusty Coleman on June 5 at Albuquerque.
El Paso collected 18 hits in the win, with eight of the nine starting players getting at least one.
Chihuahuas hurler Andre Rienzo exited his start with two outs in the first inning and Rafael De Paula retired all 13 batters he faced in an unexpected relief outing.
Keith Hessler and Logan Bawcom both pitched scoreless outings at the end of the game for El Paso. Ortega struck an eighth-inning single to move his active hitting streak to 14 games, one shy of El Paso’s 2017 high, set by Jamie Romak earlier in the season.
The Chihuahuas and Grizzlies have split the first two games of the series.
Next Game:Monday, 8:05 pm at Chukchansi Park. El Paso RHP Bryan Rodriguez (1-4, 4.89) vs. Fresno RHP David Martinez (3-7, 5.05). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: El Paso (35-35), Fresno (34-36)
The El Paso Chihuahuas scored seven runs in the first two innings and held on to their big lead in Friday’s 9-3 win over Tacoma. The Chihuahuas won all four games against the Rainiers, completing their first series sweep of the season.
It is also El Paso’s first four-game winning streak of the year.
Tony Cruz went 2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBIs, his first multi-home run game of the year. Cruz didn’t have any homers in his first 21 games and now has hit three in his last three games.
Rafael Ortega went 1-for-3 with a double to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, the second longest streak by a Chihuahua this year, behind only Jamie Romak’s 15-game streak. Christian Villanueva also homered as part of his 1-for-3 day.
El Paso brought in seven runs in the first two innings, with all of the runs driven in on two-out hits.
El Paso won five of the seven games on the homestand and the Chihuahuas have taken seven of their last nine games overall. The Chihuahuas have a .500 record for the first time since April 30.
Next Game:Saturday, 8:05 pm at Chukchansi Park. El Paso RHP Tyrell Jenkins (4-7, 7.46) vs. Fresno RHP Mike Hauschild (3-1, 5.73). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: Tacoma (35-31), El Paso (34-34)
The El Paso Chihuahuas beat the Tacoma Rainiers 5-1 Thursday, handing Tacoma its third consecutive loss. The Chihuahuas have taken the first three games of the four-game series, clinching their first home series win since the opening series of the season.
Ryan Schimpf went 2-for-4 with a solo home run to right field. Schimpf is 4-for-16 with two homers and two singles since being optioned to El Paso. Hector Sanchez went 1-for-3 with an RBI in an MLB injury rehab game for the Chihuahuas.
Rafael Ortega and Nick Buss had two hits each in the win, with Ortega extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
El Paso relievers Cesar Vargas, Rafael De Paula and Logan Bawcom tossed scoreless outings and stopped Tacoma from making a serious comeback attempt.
Chihuahuas catcher Rocky Gale nabbed former Chihuahua Ryan Jackson trying to steal second base in the seventh inning and has caught 45% of attempted base stealers this season, tops in the Pacific Coast League.
Next Game:Friday, 7:05 pm at Southwest University Park. Tacoma LHP Dillon Overton (1-1, 8.22) vs. El Paso RHP Matt Magill (1-1, 6.05). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: Tacoma (35-30), El Paso (33-34)
Carlos Asuaje hit a three-run home run with two outs in the eighth inning to break a late tie and give the El Paso Chihuahuas a 9-6 victory over the Tacoma Rainiers Wednesday night at Southwest University Park. The game featured five lead changes.
Rafael Ortega went 2-for-5 with two singles to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Jabari Blash went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.
Blash has six home runs in his last eight games and has joined Cody Decker and Hunter Renfroe as Chihuahuas to homer in four consecutive games.
Six different Chihuahuas had multi-hit games Wednesday. The Chihuahuas have won two games in a row and five of their last seven and are currently in third place, four games behind first place Salt Lake.
Next Game:Thursday, 7:05 pm at Southwest University Park. Tacoma RHP Andrew Moore (3-2, 3.12) vs. El Paso RHP Zach Lee (1-1, 6.05). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: Tacoma (35-29), El Paso (32-34)
The El Paso Chihuahuas hit two early home runs and beat the Tacoma Rainiers 3-1 Tuesday in Game 1 of a four-game series.
Rafael Ortega began the bottom of the first with a home run to right field, his fourth longball of the season and second that came to lead off a first inning for El Paso.
Dusty Coleman’s sacrifice fly in the second gave El Paso its second run and Christian Villanueva started the fourth inning with a homer, his seventh of the year, with all of them coming in his last 28 games.
Andre Rienzo allowed only one run in his six-inning start. Former Rainiers Carter Capps and Logan Bawcom pitched scoreless innings against their former club. Keith Hessler and Adam Cimber combined on a scoreless ninth, with Cimber picking up his first Triple-A save.
The quick-paced contest was El Paso’s shortest game by time this year.
Next Game:Wednesday, 7:05 pm at Southwest University Park. Tacoma RHP Chase De Jong (0-3, 5.18) vs. El Paso RHP Bryan Rodriguez (1-4, 4.94).
The opening seven Fresno batters reached base Sunday and the Grizzlies carried that first-inning rally to an 11-5 win at Southwest University Park.
The Grizzlies won two of the three games in the rare three-game Pacific Coast League series.
Ryan Schimpf went 1-for-4 with a long solo home run to right field in his first game since being optioned by San Diego. Jabari Blash went 2-for-3 with a three-run home run, his third consecutive game with a homer.
Dating back to the Albuquerque road trip, Blash has five home runs in his last six games. Carlos Asuaje, Nick Buss and Christian Villanueva collected two hits each for El Paso.
The two teams combined for 56 runs in the high-offense three-game series. The Chihuahuas do not play on Monday.
Next Game:Tuesday, 7:05 pm at Southwest University Park. Tacoma RHP Rob Whalen (0-3, 5.18) vs. El Paso RHP Andre Rienzo (2-0, 2.60). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: Fresno (31-33), El Paso (30-34)
The El Paso Chihuahuas scored 14 runs in the first five innings of their 14-12 victory over the Fresno Grizzlies Friday night. El Paso has won five of its last six games and now sits only four games out of first place and two wins from a .500 record.
The first eight batters reached in El Paso’s eight-run bottom of the fourth inning, one shy of the team record for runs in an inning. All nine Chihuahuas had at least one hit. El Paso’s 14 runs fell three shy of the team record for runs in a game.
Jabari Blash went 1-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs, his third homer in his last four games.
Diego Goris went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, with three coming in on a bases loaded double. Goris is now 2-for-2 with six RBIs in his three bases loaded plate appearances this year. The Chihuahuas offense had seven walks, good for a 2017 single-game high.
Next Game:Saturday, 7:05 pm at Southwest University Park. Fresno RHP Trent Thornton (2-2, 4.71) vs. El Paso RHP Matt Magill (3-3, 3.79). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: Fresno (29-33), El Paso (30-32)
El Paso 14 Fresno 12 – Friday
WP: Jester (2-0)
LP: Deetz (0-2)
Photos courtesy Ace Acosta, El Paso Herald-Post Chief Photographer
The El Paso Chihuahuas trailed by multiple runs late in Wednesday and Thursday’s games and came back to win both times in Albuquerque.
For the second straight day, El Paso was down to its final strike Thursday before scoring twice in the ninth to go ahead and win by a run.
Trailing 4-2 in the eighth, Christian Villanueva hit a high home run over the left field wall to get El Paso within one. Rocky Gale doubled with one out in the top of the ninth and scored on River Stevens’ two-out, two-strike RBI single.
After a pinch-hit walk pushed Stevens to second, Rafael Ortega struck a single to center field to score Stevens with the go-ahead run. The ninth-inning rally came against Albuquerque closer Matt Carasiti, one of the top relievers in the Pacific Coast League.
The Chihuahuas took three of the four games in Albuquerque and have won two of their last three road series. Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill and second baseman Rafael Ynoa were both ejected arguing a check swing call after the bottom of the eighth.
Nick Buss went 2-for-4 in the win for El Paso.
Next Game:Friday, 7:05 pm at Southwest University Park. Fresno RHP Dean Deetz (0-1, 27.00) vs. El Paso RHP Zach Lee (1-1, 5.63). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: El Paso (29-32), Albuquerque (29-31)
The El Paso Chihuahuas trailed by four runs in the seventh inning before coming back to win 6-5 in Albuquerque Wednesday night.
Trailing 5-1 in the seventh, El Paso had back-to-back doubles by Jabari Blash and Christian Villanueva to make it 5-2. RBI singles by Carlos Asuaje and Villanueva in the eighth got El Paso within one.
Then, with two outs and two strikes in the top of the ninth, Rafael Ortega lined an RBI single to center field to score Nick Buss with the tying run. Diego Goris raced home from third a few pitches later on a wild pitch.
The Isotopes had repeated chances to add runs late, leaving nine runners on base in their final five innings. Albuquerque loaded the bases with no outs in both the seventh and eighth innings but did not score either time.
Tony Cruz hit a solo home run in the third, his first homer in a Chihuahuas uniform. Villanueva and Buss had two hits each for El Paso. Logan Bawcom, Rafael De Paula and Phil Maton each threw a scoreless outing late to get out of jams and help the Chihuahuas comeback. Maton is now tied for the PCL lead in saves.
Next Game:Thursday, 12:05 pm at Isotopes Park. El Paso RHP Bryan Rodriguez (1-4, 5.21) vs. Albuquerque LHP Ryan Carpenter (2-5, 6.57). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: El Paso (28-32), Albuquerque (29-30)
The El Paso Chihuahuas had an early three-run lead but weren’t able to pick up their third consecutive win, falling to the Albuquerque Isotopes 9-6 Tuesday.
Jabari Blash hit two home runs for El Paso, bringing his Triple-A season total to seven. It was the first multi-home run game by a Chihuahuas player since Jose Pirela on May 20 versus Oklahoma City.
River Stevens collected his first two Triple-A hits, going 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a hit by pitch. Stevens started at third base for El Paso one day after being transferred from Double-A San Antonio.
Carter Capps allowed one run in one inning in his return to the Chihuahuas bullpen on MLB rehab.
The Chihuahuas had two impressive outfield assists Tuesday. The first came when Diego Goris relayed a throw from left field in the second inning to cut down a runner at home plate and the second when Rafael Ortega started a double play in right center field by catching a fly ball then throwing to third base to nab the runner trying to tag up from second.
Next Game:Wednesday, 7:05 pm at Isotopes Park. El Paso RHP Kyle Lloyd (0-1, 5.84) vs. Albuquerque TBA. The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: El Paso (27-32), Albuquerque (29-29)
The El Paso Chihuahuas scored 10 early runs and held off Albuquerque’s late comeback attempt in a 10-7 win Monday night at Isotopes Park. The Chihuahuas have won two games in a row.
El Paso brought in runs in each of the first four innings, including home runs on back-to-back pitches by Dusty Coleman and Nick Schulz in the second. It was the third set of back-to-back home runs by the Chihuahuas this season and marked the first Triple-A homer for Schulz.
Andre Rienzo pitched five shutout innings in his third spot start for El Paso. Chihuahuas lefty Keith Hessler picked up a one-pitch save after entering when Albuquerque brought the tying run to the plate in its three-run ninth-inning rally.
The Chihuahuas led 10-1 at the seventh inning stretch before the Isotopes’ late offense.
Rafael Ortega went 2-for-4 with two triples in the win. Rocky Gale, Diego Goris, Rienzo and Schulz had two hits also.
Next Game:Tuesday, 7:05 pm at Isotopes Park. El Paso RHP Tyrell Jenkins (4-5, 6.51) vs. Albuquerque TBA. The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: El Paso (27-31), Albuquerque (28-29)
Your first association when you think of the nation of Brazil is likely not baseball, and understandably so. Brazil’s sport is obviously overwhelmingly soccer, and while the American pastime has spread to numerous Latin countries like Cuba, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, Brazil is not counted among them.
In keeping with that, the world’s fifth largest country isn’t producing many professional baseball players; almost none, in fact, making Chihuahuas pitcher Andre Rienzo a rare exception.
The Brazilian born Rienzo began playing baseball when he was just four years old. After his parents divorced, Andre’s mother signed him and his two older brothers up to play baseball while she began playing softball. “She started to play softball to make us like to go,” Rienzo recounted. “Baseball in Brazil is Japanese style,” Rienzo explained, and his mother believed that getting her sons to participate in the culture of Japanese baseball would teach them discipline and help to keep them out of trouble.
“[In Brazil] we played for fun, we liked to play on Saturday and Sunday and practice two times a week…we spent most of the weekends on the field, with just a couple of friends. I enjoyed playing with family and friends. That was the best baseball I played; it’s not about numbers, it’s not about money, it’s about having fun,” Rienzo said.
Despite this modest attitude, Rienzo eventually found success in baseball at the highest level, becoming only the second Brazilian player in history to don a Major League uniform—Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes was the first—and the first-ever Brazilian pitcher to start a big league game, which he did with the Chicago White Sox on July 30, 2013. As luck would have it, the White Sox happened to be playing the Indians that day with Gomes starting behind the dish for Cleveland, marking a historic moment with two opposing halves of an all-Brazilian battery playing against one another in a Major League contest. Rienzo also became the first Brazilian player with a Major League win, a feat he accomplished less than a month later on August 21st against the Kansas City Royals.
However, even with these notable achievements on his résumé, there is something else in Rienzo’s career that he is maybe even more proud of still. “I’m most grateful to put on a Brazil jersey and represent my country,” Rienzo said, in reference to his time spent playing on the Brazilian national team, “I always go if I can help.” Rienzo represented the 2013 Brazil national team piloted by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin that qualified for and played in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, ultimately losing in the first round.
Speaking of some of his teammates from the 2013 WBC, Rienzo said: “I am good friends with Paulo Orlando…he was a world champion with Kansas City.” Orlando actually became the third Brazilian player to make it to the Majors in 2015, and the first to become a World Series champ later that year. “Spring training is a time when we always try to have dinner with the other [Brazilian] guys. We have, I think, 10 minor league guys. We try to get together when we’re in Arizona, we have a couple in Florida, but we try to have dinner. There’s not that many [of us] so we all know each other,” Rienzo added with a laugh.
Before representing the Brazilian national team or making it to the Majors, however, Rienzo had to work his way up the minor league system, beginning with the Dominican Summer League back in 2007 and then the Appalachian Rookie League in 2009, which brought with it the challenge of language barriers. Rienzo proved himself to be a very capable linguist, however, now nearly fluent in three languages.
“Portuguese is my best. I played in the Dominican where I learned Spanish, and when I came here I learned English. Spanish and Portuguese are close; I got [Spanish] easier, I think I got it in two months. What’s hard for me is English. It’s not even close to Portuguese.” For those of you keeping score at home, you can add “trilingual” to Rienzo’s list of accomplishments.
A week ago, on May 30th, Rienzo pitched five scoreless innings en route to picking up his first win in a Chihuahuas uniform. He takes the mound again tonight, boasting a 3.03 ERA, good for second-best on the entire El Paso pitching staff this season.
Andre Rienzo became the second Brazilian ever to make it to The Show, represented his home country’s national team on the world stage, and also happens to speak three languages. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to think that he could add “pitching for the San Diego Padres” to his ever-growing résumé in the near future, too.
The El Paso Chihuahuas scored all five of their runs in the second inning of Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Salt Lake Bees. The victory kept Salt Lake from a sweep.
The Chihuahuas have not been swept in a 2017 series.
El Paso’s second inning rally consisted of RBI singles from Rafael Ortega and Jabari Blash, a sacrifice fly by Jose Pirela and Christian Villanueva’s two-run double with two outs to chase starter Parker Bridwell from the game.
Salt Lake hit two solo home runs to account for the Bees’ offense.
Chihuahuas starter Matt Magill allowed only one run in his five-inning return from Extended Spring Training. Pirela went 2-for-3 and has five multi-hit games in the Chihuahuas last seven contests. Nick Schulz reached base three times in the win, while Phil Maton pitched two innings for the third time this season and picked up his 11th save, tied for the league lead.
Next Game:Monday, 7:05 pm at Isotopes Park. El Paso RHP Andre Rienzo (1-0, 3.03) vs. Albuquerque RHP Matt Flemer (2-4, 6.86). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: Salt Lake (31-26), El Paso (26-31)
The Salt Lake Bees defeated the El Paso Chihuahuas 11-1 Saturday to win their third consecutive game at Southwest University Park. Bees starting pitchers have combined for 12 shutout innings over the last two games.
It was not a lopsided game until late, as the Bees’ lead was only 3-0 entering the seventh inning.
After the first two batters were retired in the seventh, Salt Lake had nine consecutive hitters reach base and built up a double-digit lead. The seven-run seventh tied the season highs for Bees runs in an inning and Chihuahuas runs allowed in an inning.
El Paso’s lone run came on an RBI groundout by Jose Pirela in the bottom of the eighth. Dusty Coleman and Jabari Blash reached base twice in the loss for El Paso. Reliever Jason Jester tossed a scoreless top of the ninth inning for the Chihuahuas.
Next Game:Sunday, 6:05 pm at Southwest University Park. Salt Lake RHP Parker Bridwell (2-1, 0.92) vs. El Paso RHP Matt Magill (2-3, 3.97). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Box Score | Team Records: Salt Lake (31-25), El Paso (25-31)