The Idaho Falls Chukars will be happy to see Melaleuca Field again.
The team that has gone 18-5 at home continued to struggle on the road Wednesday night. The Chukars fell 6-1 to the Billings Mustangs at Dehler Park to end their seven-game road trip. I.F. was swept by the Mustangs, went 1-6 on the trip and fell to 8-18 on the road this season.
Hit and (no) run
The Chukars notched three hits in each of their first two games at Billings. They more than doubled that number Wednesday, tallying eight base knocks. They added three walks, and Angelo Castellano reached on an error.
While I.F. diverged from the low-hit streak, hits with runners on base remained elusive.
The Chukars left 11 runners on base Wednesday, and they went 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position. They have not recorded a hit in their last 19 at-bats with RISP, and they finished the series 1 for 25 in those situations.
Viloria comes down to Earth
Not even a brief slump can make Meibrys Viloria look bad.
The Chukars catcher went 0 for 4 on Wednesday, extending his hitless streak to seven at-bats. His 0-for-3 performance Monday ended a 20-game hitting streak.
Yet even after this two-game cold streak, Viloria leads the Pioneer League with a .420 batting average. He owns the league’s top slugging percentage and OPS, as well.
Wednesday’s 0-for-4 performance marked the first time in 36 games that Viloria has gone hitless in consecutive contests. In fact, Viloria has recorded at least one hit in all but five games this season. That includes an 0-for-1 showing in a pinch-hit situation June 22 against Orem.
Player of the game
Mustangs shortstop Gabriel Ovalle
Ovalle went 3 for 4 (three singles) with two RBIs on Wednesday. He also played his 13th error-less game this season at arguably the toughest position in baseball.
Bayliss earns promotion
Right-handed pitcher Brian Bayliss was promoted from I.F. to Single-A Lexington on Wednesday, ending his two-season tenure with the Chukars.
The Legends will be Bayliss’s first professional team other than the Chukars. He pitched 25.1 innings for I.F. last year and 17 this summer.
Bayliss rebounded from a 6.39 ERA in 2015 with a 3.18 ERA this season. His 2016 first half output was even better than the 3.18 indicates, and it netted him a Pioneer League all-star selection (he replaced an injured Alex Luna in the Pioneer League-Northwest League All-Star game).
The Chukars (26-23 overall, 4-7 second half) get Thursday off and host Great Falls (27-20, 6-3) for a three-game set starting Thursday. Lefty Matt Portland (7.50 ERA) will start on the hill for I.F.