Round Rock, TX – A 9th inning Round Rock Express comeback fell short against the Oklahoma City Dodgers 8-6, with Curtis Terry representing the winning run, lining out to right, sending a lively crowd of 4,037 home disappointed in a game that took 3:44 to complete Tuesday night. The E-Train rallied from a 8-2 deficit to score four runs in the 9th but the Dodger lead proved to be insurmountable as Round Rock’s late inning luck ran out.
Tyler Phillips (0-1, 54.00) started and took the loss while former Express team-mate (and current Express killer) Austin Bibens-Dirkx (5-1)started for the Dodgers got the win. It was Biben’s-Dirkx’s 3rd win in 4 outings against the Express in 2021. Kevin Quackenbush fought his way thru the 9th and cleaned things up to pick up his 7th save.
With the Dodgers dominating this series in winning five of six games, the Red Dirt Rumble Series is now knotted at six apiece for the season. The two teams face each other 18 more times in this altered schedule season, with only six remaining at Dell Diamond.
Despite the loss the Round Rock Express (24-18) maintain a 1.5 game deficit in the unstably named Triple-A West East behind Sugar Land who lost to the Express’ next opponent El Paso, 11-7 Tuesday night. The Oklahoma City Dodgers (21-21) moved to 4.5 games back.
On The Mound
In what has become a pattern as of late, the entirety of the Dodgers damage was done in the first four innings. The Express also followed another recent pattern, a complete shutdown in the late innings. For perspective; OKC scored 24 of their 36 runs during the series in the first four innings of the game for an ERA of 9.00 while only 12 were scored in the 5th inning or later (3.60 ERA) with only five coming after the 6th inning (2.50) with all five coming on Sunday night.
Tyler Phillips (1-3, 6.75 AA & AAA) in his Triple-A debut (there’s that term again) got the start and to put it nicely, his inexperience showed. The 6’5″ righty was only scheduled to throw two, possibly three innings couldn’t get out of the 1st going only .2 of an inning. Phillips allowed three hits and 4 runs, all earned. Phillips was notably wild as evidenced by not only his 2 walks (with 1 K) but his 15-14 ball/strike ratio.
Colin Wiles (2-0, 3.90), expected to be the bulk pitcher Tuesday had a challenging night. The southpaw Wiles not only entered the game much earlier than expected – in the first inning – but also behind the 8-ball as he faced a loaded bases jam. The first batter Wiles faced was former Express catcher Tim Fedorwicz, who promptly greeted the lefty with a 1-1 liner to right driving in 2. The rest of the outing did not go much better for Wiles as he gave up 3 home runs over his next 3 innings, but like a champ, took one for the team finishing with a line of 3.1IP 6H 4R/ER 1BB 2K. It’s the 2nd consecutive rough outing for Wiles as opponents have hit .304 against him over his last 7.1 innings pitched.
What followed was the 2nd half of the aforementioned pattern: nothing but zeros across the board the rest of the way. Reliever Joe Gatto (1-1, 0.81 AA & AAA) pitched his way into trouble and out of trouble in the nine batters faced allowing 2 hits and a walk, striking out 2. Express manager Kenny Holmberg was rewarded for allowing the 26 year-old righty to pitch thru his challenges with 2 scoreless innings.
Former LA/OKC Dodger Dennis Santana made his first E-Train appearance since coming over in a trade June 17th threw an inning striking out the side while walking one followed by Ryder Ryan (0-2, 4.15) who bounced back nicely from a rough performance Sunday with a scoreless one strikeout inning and in another case of Holmberg allowing a pitcher pitch himself out of trouble, Jimmy Herget loaded the bases in the 9th but ultimately got out of the inning unscored upon. It should be noted that with 2 out in that in the 9th the Dodgers entered with an 8-2 lead and maaaay not have been running the bases most aggressively as evidenced by the class move of Dodger 3rd base coach – and former Ranger – Bill Haselman (who would be on my short list of prospective Major League managers) holding up a runner rounding 3rd with a six run lead.
At The Plate
In clearly a story of patterns, while Round Rock did manage to pound out 12 hits – including five for extra bases – once again the timely hit was absent. The final stat line shows the Express went 4-10 with RISP however prior to the 9th inning they were a combined 1 for 6 leaving 8 men on base.
Most of the damage on Tuesday night came from the bottom third of the order with Charles “Stop Calling Me Waaaaddde” Leblanc (.271/.268/.449), Ryan Dorow (.231/.333/.462) and Yonny Hernandez (.267/.452/.314) going a combined 7-12 with five of the runs scored. Dorow hit a 2 run homer (1) in the 9th for his first career Triple-A dinger and Hernandez moved into 4th in the Triple-A West in OBP by reaching base three times.
Texas Ranger OF David Dahl playing in what’s likely his final rehab appearance, provided a spark going 1-3 with a stand up triple to right to drive in two in the 3rd inning. Although no decision has been made on his recall as of post time, Dahl with a slash line of .182/.182./.455 has made good contact since coming to Round Rock, however he has also struck out three times in his eleven AB’s.
Dahl was replaced after his 3rd at bat by Jason Martin (.291/.400/.727) who was optioned back to Round Rock after Monday night’s game. Martin struggled at the plate, striking out twice, however I feel it’s important to note that Martin, who had until Friday to report the the Express, arrived before game time.
The Express have a day to clear their heads after a tough 5-1 series loss with an off day on Wednesday before heading to El Paso to open a six game road trip in the HOT. TEXAS. DESERT. against the Chihuahuas. The teams split a six game series in Round Rock earlier in June when Round Rock High alum and current San Diego Padre Mason Thompson saved 2 games against his hometown team. Local favorite Thompson made his Major League debut on Tuesday, but we talk Express here.
The series opens Thursday with Express righty Tyson Miller (0-0, 6.00) getting the nod to face Padres southpaw Ryan Weathers (1-0, 0.00) on a Major League rehab assignment for the Chihuahuas. The game is set for 8:05 pm CDT at Southwest University Park.