Left-hander P.J. Conlon was impressive in his Triple-A debut for the 51s, stymying El Paso over six innings. He struck out nine, catching eight batters looking and left Sunday’s game with a one-run lead.
But that lead quickly disappeared as the bullpen gave up seven runs in the next three innings, leading to the Chihuahuas’ 8-5 victory over the 51s at Cashman Field.
El Paso’s Nick Schulz went 3-for-5, including a two-run double in the ninth that broke a 5-all tie.
“The wind picked up and stuff and it became really tough to pitch but that’s just the game,” Conlon said. “Guys are going to have their days.
“I just happened to have a good day today and next time I go out I could leave the bases loaded with nobody out and somebody’s going to come and strike out the side and save my butt, so it all comes back around. We’re only four games in. Today, everyone kind of felt like it was a tough loss.”
El Paso scored the first run of the game in the third inning, striking on a Schulz RBI single that scored Travis Jankowski. That was all the Chihuahuas (3-1) would get against Conlon, who gave up four hits in his outing.
Conlon said he started to settle down after the third inning.
“I was able to get in on guys and, a big pitch for me today, it’s not usually as staple as it was today, was the backdoor slider,” he said. “I was able to throw that with two strikes and have it come back and catch the outside corner of the plate so I think that was a key to my success today.”
The 51s (1-3) took the lead in the fourth inning as Jose Lobaton took his first home run of the season — a two-run shot — out to right field.
They held onto that lead until the seventh when Matt Purke gave up an run-scoring hit to pinch-hitter Franmil Reyes. That run was charged to Logan Taylor, who had allowed a walk and hit before he was removed.
After Ty Kelly tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a two-out, three-run home run, El Paso responded with three runs off of Purke, two from a Stephen McGee home run.
“Three-run lead late in the game going into the eighth inning, you think everything is going to be fine,” manager Tony DeFrancesco said.
Jamie Callahan came on in the top of the ninth with the game tied and gave up three runs of his own, including a Schulz two-run double that broke open the tie.
“You get beat on the outer half which I don’t understand it,” DeFrancesco said. “I talked to the guys about pounding the ball inside, using the inside part of the plate, don’t let the guys get extended and they’re finding out, out and away is not good when the wind is blowing out.”
The Chihuahuas did most of their damage in the game with two outs, including in the ninth, when Callahan walked the first batter before retiring the next two.
“That’s a veteran team over there. They’ve got some guys that have been in the league before. They’ve got some guys who have been in the big leagues,” DeFrancesco said. “They executed. They worked the count very well. They got some big hits when they needed them. We didn’t do that late in the game.”