The El Paso Chihuahuas were doing something Friday they hadn’t done in more than 40 days: losing a game at home. But thanks to the Big Dog in the sky, the Chihuahuas magically beat the Tacoma Rainiers 7-6.
The Dog’s ninth-inning heroics kept their home-game winning streak alive at 17.
The Chihuahuas (81-55) have already clinched a playoff berth and really could have just played casually without giving this game much thought. And a loss seemed likely in a game that was full of peculiarities including an El Paso home run that appeared fair to everyone in the park but one umpire.
El Paso starter Walker Lockett (4.73 ERA) kept the Tacoma lineup at one run until the fifth inning when the Rainiers threw up five runs. Lockett gave way to righty T.J. Weir who restored order and got the final out to end the inning, Tacoma 6-0.
Tacoma starter Ross Detwiler (4.89 ERA) went seven strong innings keeping El Paso scoreless until the fifth, when right fielder Forrestt Allday singled in a run to center field, Tacoma 6-1. There could have been another two runs on what appeared to be a Nick Schulz home run down the left field line that looked like it sailed fair past the foul pole then curved behind it.
The crowd of 9,178 amateur umpires in the stands let official umps hear it.
El Paso catcher Raffy Lopez was tossed after the umpires objected to reliever Carter Capps’ unusual wind-up motion. Capps has used a “hop-step” delivery for most, if not all, of his career and has stirred controversy for years. El Paso manager Rod Barajas was tossed shortly after Lopez, apparently also arguing in favor of Capps’ style.
Capps changed his motion and walked a batter to allow lefty Brad Wieck to finish warming up.
The Dogs started to growl again in the eighth inning with a two-run Ty France long ball that bounced off the third deck of the Dog House in right center field, Tacoma 6-3.
Wieck (3.63 ERA) was lights-out in his two innings of work, allowing only two hits but striking out six batters.
And then the magic.
First baseman Brett Nicholas led off the ninth inning with a home run that bounced of the Dog House – within a few feet of where France’s blast had hit the inning before, Tacoma 6-4. Dusty Coleman doubled down the left field line. Auston Bousfield popped a looper over the second baseman’s glove to put runners on the corners.
Schulz, who was apparently robbed of that home run in the fifth, hit a sinking liner to center field that was caught but brought home the speedy Coleman, El Paso 6-5.
Allday walked and moved Bousfield to second base. France came up as the Dogs’ last hope to keep the streak alive with two outs. He hit a long fly ball that appeared to be headed to that same spot on the Dog House he had already marked and the Rainier center fielder chased after it and threw up his arm to catch it. The ball slipped through and fell at the base of the wall, El Paso walked off 7-6.
The winning pitcher was Wieck (3-0) the losing pitcher was Tyler Higgins (1-1).
By Larry Monarrez – El Paso Herald-Post
El Paso 7 Tacoma 6 – Friday – WP: Wieck (3-0) | LP: Higgins (1-1) | S: None | Time: 2:59 | Attn: 9,178
Box Score | Team Records: Tacoma (64-72), El Paso (81-55)
Next Game: Saturday, 7:05 pm at Southwest University Park. Tacoma RHP Christian Bergman (8-10, 5.00) vs. El Paso LHP Logan Allen (4-0, 0.82). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Walk. It. Off.
— El Paso Chihuahuas (@epchihuahuas) September 1, 2018