ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — All in all, it’s been a pretty good week for Red Patterson.
On Thursday, the 26-year-old right-handed starting pitcher had his contract purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers, was added to the 40-man roster and made his major league debut against the Minnesota Twins.
Tuesday night, in his expected return to the mound in Albuquerque, Patterson worked through a slow start in the opening inning and then settled in to set the tone for the Isotopes in a 8-4 win over the Sacramento River Cats to end a four-game slide. “It’s been quite a rush, moving back and forth, and all the flights and everything,” Patterson said of the past week. “I loved it. Yeah, I loved every second of it.”
Patterson (2-1) picked up the victory with six innings of work, allowing seven hits, two earned runs, walking two and striking out three.
“I don’t think he had his real good stuff tonight,” Isotopes manager Damon Berryhill admitted, “but he battled and gave us a quality outing. His command wasn’t real sharp tonight, but Red’s going to battle every time.”
True, it wasn’t a picture-perfect outing, but it was exactly what the ailing Isotopes needed after being swept at home over the previous four days by the Fresno Grizzlies in a series that saw the ‘Topes get outscored 37-16.
The first inning was the most trouble Patterson got into on the night.
River Cat third baseman Alden Carrithers led the game off with a double on the opening pitch, drawing more than a few “here we go again” groans from the 6,873 fans in attendance. Carrithers was then moved to third base on a sacrifice and scored on a single to center by Shane Peterson.
Patterson followed up the run by hitting – at least as called by home plate umpire Roberto Ortiz but protested by Patterson and Berryhill – first baseman Nate Freiman, which put two runners on with one out and already trailing 1-0.
Then, Patterson settled down and wasn’t again in any serious trouble until allowing another run in the sixth inning with the ‘Topes leading 5-2.
“It seems in the past few starts, even in the debut (with the Dodgers last week), it’s that first inning I’ve run into trouble with,” Patterson said. “This next start, I’ll really try to focus on attacking coming out of the gates, ready to rock ‘n’ roll and maybe changing the way I pitch that first inning to get us back in the dugout as soon as possible.”
Of course it helped Patterson settle into a rhythm Tuesday night with the way the ‘Topes’ offense, and Jamie Romak in particular, came alive against Sacramento starter Philip Humber (1-2).
Romak, playing his first game in right field of 2014, led a 12-hit charge for Albuquerque by going 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs, including a second-inning home run.
He was just happy the team is playing with a different mindset after the Fresno series.
“The last series was downright embarrassing,” Romak said. “That’s really all I can say about it. … It’s not always stuff that shows up in the box score. Just play a cleaner game. Do the things you need to do to win high-level baseball games was nice.”
A BUSS OF A DIFFERENT BREED: Nick “Chili” Buss has had his share of good and bad games at Isotopes Park. On Tuesday night, Buss went 1-for-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts.
The difference Tuesday was he wasn’t wearing a ‘Topes uniform. Buss, claimed Sunday off waivers by Oakland and optioned to the River Cats, its Triple-A affiliate, returned to Isotopes Park on Tuesday.
He played 157 games as an Albuquerque Isotope – 131 in 2013 during his PCL All- Star campaign and 26 this season.