It has been a long road back from elbow surgery for Cesar Carrillo. If his last start was a sign that he might finally have regained the form that made him a first-round draft pick in 2005, then the Texas League should be on notice. Carrillo shut down the Tulsa Drillers to guide the Missions to a 7-1 victory at Wolff Stadium on Tuesday night, wrapping up a 4-2 homestand.
Carrillo (6-4) and Tulsa starter Chaz Roe (3-2) matched each other through six masterfull, shutout innings. But after Carrillo set down the Drillers in order in the top of the seventh, the Missions finally broke through.
Roe retired 19 of the first 21 batters he faced, but ran into trouble with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Logan Forsythe walked and was running on the pitch as Lance Zawadzki singled the other way, moving Forsythe to third. Then Cedric Hunter delivered his second straight hit on a solid single to center to break the scoreless tie. Brian Joynt followed with a single of his own, plating Zawadzki and moving Hunter to third, chasing Roe from the game. Mitch Canham and Michael Collins followed with doubles off reliever Tommy Baumgardner, and Luis Durango tripled with two out to plate Collins and cap the scoring.
Cedric Hunter broke up Roe's no-hitter on a solid single to center with one out in the fifth. Hunter finished the day 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, extending his modest hitting streak to four games.
But the offense was just a nice side-note to the real story, Carrillo's brilliant outing.
"This was by far his best outing," said Kennedy of Carrillo, who won his fourth straight start and set a new career-high with six wins. "He was hurt for so long, we knew it might take him as long as he was hurt for to get back to form."
Carrillo needed to be solid to match the great start from his counterpart, Roe. The Missions' righty explained the mindset that comes with such a pitcher's duel. "If he's putting up zeroes, I've got to do everything I can to match him."
Kennedy agreed that a contest like Tuesday's lends a different tone to the game.
"When you're in that kind of game, where the tension is high, it keeps you in it."
After Mike McKenry doubled with one out in the second, Carrillo did not allow a hit until Darin Holcomb cleared the wall in left field leading off the eighth inning to break up the shutout. Carrillo had also retired 11 in a row before the Holcomb shot. He finished the night with 8.0 innings of three-hit, one-run ball, walking one while striking out four. He allowed only three balls out of the infield all night, inducing 15 ground ball outs.
The Missions defense also tied a season-high, turning four double plays on the evening in support of the pitching staff. It was only fitting that the game ended on a 4-6-3 twin killing induced by Mike DeMark, who tossed a scoreless ninth inning to close out the game.
W: Carrillo (6-4); L: Roe (3-2); S: None; HR: Holcomb (4)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.