Though the Mustangs absorbed a pretty good drubbing Friday night, manager Dick Schofield found a silver lining. Even if it was a sarcastic one.
“The good thing about that game,” the first-year skipper deadpanned, “is that it’s over.”
It took a while to get to the end of the 13-2 win by the Helena Brewers, mainly because of an eight-run third inning that left little doubt how this one would turn out.
The big inning started harmlessly enough: A ground ball out. But one by one the Helena hitters followed, dumping hits here, there and everywhere off Tyler Mahle (1-1) until Schofield strolled out to the mound to finally give the Mustangs starter the hook.
By that time, the Brewers had eight consecutive hits and seven runs, and they’d add one more run after Mahle left the game on yet another hit.
“You just kind of roll with what the other guys have done, so you can go into your at-bat with confidence,” said Brewers designated hitter Mitch Meyer, who delivered a two-run triple as the seventh man in the hit parade. “The pressure’s kind of off you because you’ve seen the other guys have success.”
The Brewers sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning and finished with six singles, two doubles and Meyer’s triple. Seven players drove in runs, and Mahle, who entered the game having allowed just nine hits in 10 innings through his first two starts, finished with a line score of 21/3 innings pitched with 10 hits and eight runs allowed.
“That wasn’t him,” said Schofield. “Everything they hit found a hole, soft or hard. That happens on occasion. I’m sure he’s frustrated and rightly so. But he’ll be out there in four days, and things will change.”
Schofield can only hope his team changes its defensive stripes. The Mustangs committed another five errors, giving them 14 over the last three games. They had 10 errors through their first nine games.
“We gave (the Brewers) more than three outs an inning quite often, and it’s hard to play that way,” Schofield said.
KEY MOMENT: Gregory Munoz started the third-inning onslaught with a one-out single, and Mahle appeared to have him picked off during Brandon Diaz’s at-bat. But first baseman Argenis Aldazaro couldn’t handle the throw, and instead of having two outs and nobody on base, the Brewers took off.
ON THE MOUND: As tough as the Brewers’ hitters were, so were the team’s pitchers. Starter Javi Salas faced one over the minimum in four innings, while Chad Thompson (2-1) struck out six in three scoreless innings of relief. “The pitchers did awesome tonight,” Meyer said. “It was good our hitters were able to roll with the good pitching and put runs up on the board when they have a performance like that.”
AT THE PLATE: Pick a Brewer, any Brewer, and he had a good night. Diaz and Elvis Rubio had three hits as Helena set a team high with 16. Nataneal Mejia drove in four runs on two hits. The Mustangs finished with just five hits, and Ty Washington and Shed Long drove in the runs.
ON DECK: Game two of this four-game series is set for 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Dehler Park. The teams have played just twice so far, with Billings winning a 16-7 game in Helena on June 19 before rain postponed the second game of that series. “We blew them out at their place and they blew us out here, so we’re even,” Schofield said. “We’ll start even keel tomorrow.”