San Diego Padres: El Paso Chihuahuas Force Deciding Game 5

DENVER, CO - JULY 18: Carlos Asuaje
DENVER, CO - JULY 18: Carlos Asuaje /

San Diego Padres AAA affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas, face a deciding Game 5 in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

A 2018 Pacific Coast League championship birth seemed far out of reach for the El Paso Chihuahuas. The San Diego Padres called up two of their hottest hitters, Luis Urias and Francisco Mejia, forcing El Paso to use a lineup featuring the likes of Brett Nicholas, Raffy Lopez, Allen Craig, and Carlos Asuaje. After dropping the first two games of the series, the Chihuahuas have forced a deciding game five on Sunday afternoon.

Both Walker Lockett and Logan Allen struggled in their playoff starts, as El Paso quickly found themselves down 0-2 against the Fresno Grizzlies, the AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros.

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The high-powered offense of the Grizzlies struggled in game three, facing off against a resurgent Cal Quantrill. Since his promotion from AA San Antonio, Quantrill has slashed his walk rate in half and has been more effective at producing ground ball outs.

Both of those factors played into his favor on Friday night as the Chihuahuas took game three of the series, 2-0. Quantrill logged six shutout innings, surrendering just two hits and one walk, while striking out seven Fresno hitters. A three-hit performance from Asuaje and a two-run single from Allen Craig was all the offense that the Chihuahuas would need to force a game four.

Colin Rea put in one of his best outings of the season, giving up one run on four hits across 5.1 innings in game four of the series. Down 1-0 in the 7th inning, Shane Peterson, Allen Craig, Brett Nicholas, Raffy Lopez, and Dusty Coleman put up five-straight hits to score four runs and take a lead the Chihuahuas would not surrender for the rest of the game.

El Paso now faces a deciding game five with the winner of Sunday’s game advancing to the Pacific Coast League championship series. The Chihuahuas will hand the ball over to Jerry Keel for game five. Keel has made 12 appearances with El Paso (eight starts), going 4-1 with a 4.68 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP for the Chihuahuas this season (starting pitcher subject to change).

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Keep an eye on Ty France in this afternoon’s game. In the first four games of the series, France is 7-16 (.438) with four runs driven in. Carlos Asuaje has also been hot, piling up five hits and five walks in four games. Both will try to rebound from disappointing game four outings.