In his first start with the San Antonio Missions, Eric Lauer hit the ground running, striking out nine batters and scattering seven hits over 7.2 innings of shutout ball.
Lauer zipped through the first couple of innings without much trouble, and it wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth that he faced a precarious situation. It was then that the Naturals shortstop, Nicky Lopez, tapped a soft fly ball to center field for a single to kick off the inning. While Lauer responded by striking out Samir Duenez on three pitches, things got dicey when Lopez proceeded to try and steal second during the next at bat. Unfortunately, Luis Urias missed the catch, allowing Lopez to reach third based poised to break the 0-0 tie. Yet, Lauer fearlessly continued to attack the zone, even when he was robbed of a strike three call on a ball catching the edge of the plate, and struck out another batter to bring the side to a close.
It wasn’t until two innings later that another high pressure situation arrived as back to back hitters nailed singles, but once again, Lauer shut down the rally with a strikeout.
After that, it seemed as though Lauer might possibly toss a complete game shutout in his auspicious debut; however, a ground-ball to center field in the 8th put put a runner on base with the Missions up by one run. A few plays later, a double placed runners on second and third, but there was apparently already enough confidence to let Lauer try and pitch his way out. Sure enough, he induced a ground-out to shortstop that enabled Luis Urias to check the runners before Wingenter came in to retire the last batter.
The Missions would go on to win 2-1, giving Lauer a win in his first career start at Double-A. While it’ll be hard to keep expectations in check if Lauer continues his minor league tear, there’s no reason to believe he can’t earn at least a cup of coffee with Triple-A El Paso prior to the season’s end.