Missions’ bullpen solid in early going of new season

Sometimes, it seems that a minor league baseball team is only as good as its bullpen.

It might be hard to argue about such a theory with the Missions, who roll into Midland today on a three-game winning streak, highlighted by another streak — 14 consecutive scoreless innings by relief pitchers.

The Missions’ bullpen hasn’t been charged with a run since the eighth inning last Friday night, in Game 4 of a six-game road series against the Corpus Christi Hooks.

The run scored when C.J. Stubbs singled to drive in Marty Costes against Missions lefthander Tom Cosgrove. Since then, the Missions’ pen has worked 14 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and five walks over that span.

After falling behind 5-1 in the series finale Sunday afternoon, manager Phillip Wellman and pitching coach Pete Zamora called on left-hander Jerry Keel and righty Jose Quezada to put out the fire.

Keel struck out four in four innings to get the win and Quezada closed in the ninth for his first save to nail down a 7-5 victory.

In six games to start the season, the bullpen hasn’t been invincible. It has given up three home runs. But, for the most part, it’s been very reliable with a 3-1 record, a save and a 2.32 earned run average. Not to mention a 1.00 WHIP.

Individuals standing out from a statistical standpoint include five players who have yet to allow an earned run — Fred Schlichtolz, Quezada, James Reeves, Carlos Belen and Pedro Avila.

Notable

After a day off Monday, the San Diego Padres-affiliated Missions (4-2) will play the Rockhounds (2-4) in the opener of a six-game series tonight in Midland. The Rockhounds are affiliated with the Oakland A’s. The Missions return for their home opener on May 18 against the Texas Rangers-affliated Frisco RoughRiders.

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