Despite the team’s first three-game losing streak of the season, the Edinburg Roadrunners (28-13) are still atop the ULB standings a bit past the halfway point.
They staged a late comeback against Laredo Sunday but fell short, 6-5, with Tim Haines (4-2) taking the loss. Edinburg was down 6-1 before rallying to make it 6-3 in the seventh on a two-run double from Wilson Batista. Carlos Hereaud and Vincent Blue drove in runs an inning later but the squad went quietly in the ninth.
The loss follows Saturday’s oh-for-two doubleheader that put an end to a mighty fine streak of baseball by the league leaders. Heading into Saturday, the Runners had won 11 of 13 with their losses during that span coming by a total of five runs. While they continued to dominate the league, rising to 18 games over .500, both the pitching and hitting have cooled a tiny bit lately.
One of the leading hitters continues to be infielder Felix Molina, whose average has been in the .340 range for weeks before dipping to .327. Behind him are a number of guys banging well, including outfielder Robert Matlock (.313) and infielder Hereaud (.336, first on the team).
Right fielder Ambiorix Concepcion has been very solid from the cleanup spot, with six homers (tied with Hereaud for number one on the squad), a unit-best 33 RBI, and 12 steals, second to infielder Wilmer Pino, who has swiped 19.
Pitching-wise, righty Wardell Starling took his first loss of the season after five wins, losing a 1-0 decision to Laredo in Game One Saturday. The night before, veteran Eric Montoya battled for seven innings, allowing 14 baserunners but keeping his team in the game long enough for a comeback win in the series opener.
Mark Dibernardo, a deceptive righty whose sum is greater than his parts, has won five of six, and the team ERA is 3,66, still tops in the league by a longshot.
The Runners celebrated an off day Monday and then took off on the first important road trip of the year. The first stop in particular would be tough as to a man the fellows do not like to play in Amarillo, where games will be held through Friday.
“Something about that place,” said Moore over the weekend. “It’s tough to win there, those guys are like the Yankees when they play at home.”
Moore expects the Dillas, four games back of the Runners in the standings, to be tough competition for the crown this season.
“They are always hard to win against,” he noted. “And now they picked up Daryl Jones, which will make them even better.”
Jones was a slick-fielding and hard-hitting first baseman who played for the Coyotes two years ago in town.
After the Amarillo series, it’s off to Laredo for four and then back at the Stadium Thursday, July 22 to begin a stand versus Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend.
NOTES: Starling pinch hit and got a single to start the game-winning rally Friday, which should not come as a surprise as he was a .300 hitter last year while taking the year on the mound off with an injury.
The Runners released pitcher Robbie Nelson and signed former University of Texas-Pan American hurler Evan Cunningham over the weekend. Righty Cunningham struck out 59 batters in 61 innings for the Broncs back in 2008.