San Antonio Missions slumping as postseason begins – San Antonio Express-News

Highlighting the week that was and previewing the upcoming week for the San Antonio Missions:

As the San Antonio Missions prepare to play in the postseason for the first time since 2018, the club is mired in one of its worst slumps of the year.

San Antonio closed the regular season by dropping five of six games against the Amarillo Sod Poodles last week at Wolff Stadium, sinking to 5-13 across its past three series.

The Missions reached the postseason by winning the first-half title in the Texas League South, going 38-29 with the league’s best run differential at plus-40. But San Antonio’s 30-39 record during the second half is the worst in the division, with a run differential of minus-25.

San Antonio faces the Frisco RoughRiders, the second-half Texas League South champion, on the road in the first of a three-game set at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday. The series shifts to Wolff Stadium at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, with a decisive game in San Antonio at 7:05 p.m. Friday, if necessary.

After Frisco won six straight from San Antonio during the second week of the season, the teams played even through the rest of the year, going 9-9 across three series.

The Missions Tirso Ornelas missed the final three games of the series against Amarillo with after coming away from a bunt attempt with a limp.

The Missions Tirso Ornelas missed the final three games of the series against Amarillo with after coming away from a bunt attempt with a limp.

Ronald Cortes

The RoughRiders have the luxury of turning to right-hander Jack Leiter, ranked by MLB.com as the Texas Rangers’ No. 2 prospect and the sport’s No. 47 overall, while the Missions held off on naming a starting pitcher from their often-jumbled rotation.

San Antonio’s bats are also a question after the Missions posted a league-worst .657 OPS last week, batting just .158 (9 for 57) with runners in scoring position across the six-game set against Amarillo.

The Missions ended Monday’s 4-3 loss with back-to-back strikeouts after putting the tying run on second base. Trailing by five entering Sunday’s ninth inning, San Antonio pushed two runs across and brought the tying run to the plate but closed the game with a strikeout and a groundout to fall 5-2.

The Sod Poodles, meanwhile, cashed in on late-inning opportunities, scoring a combined 13 runs across the eighth and ninth innings of the first three games of the series to convert a trio of come-from-behind wins.

Prospect watch

Joshua Mears, the San Diego Padres’ No. 14 prospect, had a difficult week at the plate, going 1 for 20 with a walk and 11 strikeouts. His only hit was second-inning grand slam Saturday.

With Padres’ No. 9 prospect Korry Howell out with injury since June 24, the only other position prospect in San Antonio’s lineup is No. 18 Tirso Ornelas, and he, too, missed the final three games of last week’s series after coming up limping following a bunt single Thursday.

Ornelas had been San Antonio’s most potent hitter in the series prior to his injury, going 6 for 12 with a homer and three RBI.

Standout pitcher

Nolan Watson, Thomas Eshelman and Brandon Komar all delivered productive starts for the Missions last week.

Watson is most likely of the trio to be available for Tuesday’s postseason opener, allowing just one run across five innings while scattering seven hits in last week’s first game.

Eshelman and Komar would likely wait until the second or third postseason games to return to the mound. Eshelman tossed five shutout innings giving up two hits and two walks Thursday, with no Amarillo runner advancing to second base.

Komar notched his team-leading fifth quality start Saturday, allowing one run on four hits and a walk across six innings while retiring the first six batters he faced.

Standout hitter

Shortstop Connor Hollis knocked a team-leading eight hits from the leadoff spot last week, batting .348 with a homer and four RBI.

By the numbers

10: Shutout losses for the Missions this season, including Friday’s 7-0 loss to Amarillo in which San Antonio mustered just four hits.

.298: Amarillo’s batting average against San Antonio pitchers last week, the second-worst opposing batting average in the Texas League.

6.17: Strikeouts per nine innings by San Antonio’s pitchers last week, the lowest average in the league.

greg.luca@express-news.net

Twitter: @GregLuca

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