Strong pitching lifts Chukars 4-2 over Orem

By VICTOR FLORES
vflores@postregister.com

A win’s a win, especially for the struggling Idaho Falls Chukars. But no one in pinstripes wanted to see another poor pitching performance, even in victory.

They didn’t.

Led by starting pitcher Derek Gordon, the Chukars (6-13) got a 4-2 win over the first-place Orem Owlz (13-6) on Monday at Melaleuca Field, preventing an Owlz sweep.

Gordon.
Gordon.

“You could tell pre-game, there was a different feeling in the clubhouse,” said Gordon, the younger brother of Kansas City Royals’ All-Star Alex Gordon. “When you go out with the feeling that you’re going to win, it’s tough to lose.”

Before Monday, a Chukars pitcher had gone 5.2 innings or more only three times this season.

Gordon made that four.

Gordon, who lasted

5.2 innings on June 26 against Grand Junction, gave up two hits Monday in his fourth start of the season. The right-hander gave up two runs (one earned) on three walks and seven strikeouts. That’s the most strikeouts by any Idaho Falls pitcher in a single game this season.

“I felt more comfortable on the mound tonight than I have this season,” Gordon said. “I was locating my pitches all night.”

Milligan
Milligan

Stephen Milligan arguably pitched better than Gordon in his 3.1 relief innings. The left-hander gave up zero runs on two hits, a walk and three strikeouts.

At the plate, center fielder Cody Jones continued his hot start. Jones, who joined Idaho Falls on Saturday after a week in Arizona, went 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs on Monday. He’s now 7 for 13 in three games.

Catcher Pedro Gonzalez went 3 for 4 with a double, and Jeckson Flores went 2 for 3.

Other than their 2-0 loss to Grand Junction on June 26, this was the Chukars’ lowest-scoring game of the season.

“They’re going to need to learn to play in these types of games,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “So, it’s good for us to have a close game every once in a while.”

The Chukars travel to Great Falls for a three-game series starting tonight at 7.

Sunday’s loss

On Sunday, the Chukars fell behind 5-0 after four innings and never recovered in an 8-5 loss to Orem.

Starting pitcher Dylan Sons went 5 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

1-2-3 hitters Cody Jones, DJ Burt and Josh Banuelos each went 2 for 4 with a walk, with Banuelos adding three RBIs.

Roster shakeup

Three Chukars were promoted to Single-A Lexington after Sunday’s 8-5 loss to Orem — outfielder/first baseman Alexis Rivera and left-handed pitchers Brennan Henry and Eric Stout.

Rivera played for Idaho Falls for parts of each of the last three seasons. He exited Idaho Falls with a .362 batting average and Pioneer League-highs in home runs (seven) and walks (17) in 69 at-bats.

Henry transferred from Lexington to Idaho Falls on June 22. He made four relief appearances for the Chukars, posting a 1.69 ERA in 5.1 innings.

Stout joined the Chukars on June 29 and made one start, giving up three runs (one earned) on five strikeouts and no walks.

“We’re trying to develop players and get them better so we can push them up the system,” Gemoll said. “For us as coaches, we’re real happy anytime that happens.”

These three players will join former Chukars’ infielder Luis Valenzuela, who moved from Idaho Falls to Lexington on July 2.

Former Chukar joins Royals

On Monday, the Kansas City Royals called former Chukar Cheslor Cuthbert. The infielder replaced fellow former Chukar Mike Moustakas, who was placed on the family emergency/bereavement list after leaving the team Sunday for a family emergency, according to the Kansas City Star.

Cuthbert, 22, played one season for the Chukars as a 17-year-old in 2010. The infielder played 14 games for Idaho Falls, hitting .233 with two home runs in 64 plate appearances.

Cuthbert (.256 in 76 games for Triple-A Omaha this season) was set to make his MLB debut Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays starting at third base and batting eighth, but the game was postponed due to tornado warnings.

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