El Paso, Fort Wayne lose playoff openers

Tri-City opens Northwest League finals tonight

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Triple-A El Paso and low Single-A Fort Wayne lost their playoff openers Wednesday night.

El Paso suffered a 9-1 loss at Fresno in the opener of the best 3-of-5 Pacific Coast League semifinal series. The Chihuahuas will play the second game in Fresno Thursday night before the scene switches to El Paso.

Fort Wayne dropped a 5-2 decision at Comstock, Mich., in the opener of the best 3-of-5 Midwest League quarterfinal series against West Michigan. The teams resume the series in Fort Wayne tonight.

Meanwhile, short-season Single-A Tri-City opens the best 2-of-3 Northwest League championship series in Hillsboro, Oregon, Thursday night. Like El Paso and Fort Wayne, Tri-City holds the homefield advantage. Right-hander Adrian De Horta (2-1, 3.26 earned run average in eight regular-season starts) will start the series opener for the Dust Devils.

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks homered for El Paso's lone run Wednesday night. Center fielder Rymer Liriano reached base in all four plate appearances going 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and a hit-by-pitcher.

Right-handed Chihuahuas' starter Daniel McCutchen suffered the loss, allowing five runs(but only one earned run) on eight hits and a walk with two strikeouts in four innings. Right fielder Hunter Renfro and second baseman Ramiro Pena committed errors for the Chihuahuas.

Right-handed reliever Tayron Guerrero walked the only three hitters he faced and gave up three runs. Right-handed reliever Adam Cimber allowed a run on three hits and a walk with a strikeout in 1 2/3 innings. Right-hander Aaron Northcraft allowed a hit and two walks with a strikeout in two scoreless innings.

Right-hander Chris Smith, who was 5-7 with a 3.60 ERA during the regular series, will start Thursday night in Fresno.

Right-handed starter Dinelson Lamet allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings to suffer the loss for Fort Wayne. Right-handed reliever Bryan Verbitsky allowed two hits with four walks over 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Left-handed reliever Taylor Cox pitched a perfect 1 2/3 innings.

First baseman Trae Santos had a homer in three at-bats with a walk. Left fielder Franchy Cordero was 2-for-4 with a RBI. Left fielder Edwin Moreno was 2-for-4. Second baseman Luis Urias was 1-for-3 with a run scored.

Right-hander Ernesto Montas, who was 12-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 24 starts in the regular season, will start Thursday's game for Fort Wayne. If the TinCaps win Thursday night, the rubber match of the three-game series will be played Friday night in Fort Wayne.