By Tony Altobelli
Killeen Daily Herald
ROUND ROCK Round Rock Express manager Jackie Moore did not mince words following Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Arkansas Travelers at the Dell Diamond, snapping the Travs' eight-game winless streak.
He was not pleased with the execution of not only the Express offense, but also of the umpiring threesome of Chris Griffith, Matt Kaylor and Delfin Colon.
Moore was ejected in the fourth and dejected after the ninth as the Travelers (8-16, 40-53) held on for their fifth one-run win over the Express (12-13, 57-38) this season.
"This crew is one of the best in the Texas League and they're too good to be making the calls they were making tonight," Moore said. "It hurts when things are going bad like they're going for us. We don't want anything we don't deserve.
"I had a short night tonight and if they don't change their ways, it will be a short night again tomorrow."
Moore was ejected following a bang-bang play at first where Express batter Mike Rodriguez was called out on a close play. This crew also worked the Express' last series, against San Antonio, where there were other calls that didn't go Round Rock's way..
"I expect my players to step up and perform better as the season goes along and I expect the same out of the umpires as well," Moore said.
The Express saw a solid pitching performance by Wandy Rodriguez go to waste.
Rodriguez, whose record falls to 9-4, pitched eight innings and allowed two runs on six hits. He walked two, struck out six and retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.
"He was doing a great job of getting his changup over for strikes," Moore said. "He definitely threw good enough to win."
Travelers' starter Corey Lee, who missed all of last season due to elbow surgery, allowed just three hits over 5 1/3 innings to pick up his first win of the season (1-3). He walked one and struck out eight.
"I think I'm starting to turn the corner now," Lee said. "I'm beginning to regain the form I had a couple of years ago. I was able to keep my pitches down and I was able to get ahead to most of the batters I faced. Matty (catcher Jeff Mathis) did a great job of calling the right pitches and moving me around."
Arkansas took an early 1-0 lead when Alberto Callaspo reached on an infield single, went to second on a single to left by Nick Gorneault and scored on a single up the middle by Derrick Brown.
The Travelers made it 2-0 in the fifth, thanks in large part to the legs of Javy Rodriguez, who singled, stole second and third on back-to-back pitches and scored on a sacrifice fly by Callaspo.
Lee slipped out of a two-on, two-out jam with a strikeout of Hector Jimenez to end Round Rock's scoring threat.
"We're not getting the two-out hits when we need them," Moore said. "That's what happens when you struggle offensively."
But it became apparent that Round Rock began to figure Lee out and the Express finally solved him in the sixth. Willy Taveras reached first with a one-out bunt single. After stealing second, he came around to score on a line-shot single to left by Mike Rodriguez.
In the bottom of the seventh, Arkansas relief pitcher Scott Schneider walked the first two batters of the frame, but Round Rock was unable to tie the game or take the lead, due to a combination of poor sacrifice execution and a lack of clutch hitting with runners in scoring position.
"We've been on the short end of a few 2-1 games as of late," Moore said.
Arkansas closer Jon Rouwenhorst allowed a sharp single in the ninth to Luke Scott, but managed to pick up his eighth save of the season. The Travelers' four-pack of pitchers combined to strike out 14 Express batters in the game.
Game 2 of the four-game series takes place tonight at 7:05 at Dell Diamond.
EXPRESS NOTES It was Moore's second home game in a row in which he was tossed. Tonight's starters are Tim McClaskey (4-4, 4.30 ERA) for Round Rock and Nick Roberts (1-1, 3.10 ERA) for Arkansas ... With tonight's attendance of 9,840, the Express has drawn over 400,000 fans this season (409,810 in 41 dates). ... Scott's one home run per 10.8 plate appearances is the best on the team. Ivanon Coffie (1/18.6) is second. ... Charlton Jimerson's fifth-inning walk snapped a seven at-bat strikeout streak.
Contact Tony Altobelli at email@example.com