ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A night at the Lab, those around the Albuquerque Isotopes organization will tell you, is about so much more than just baseball.
Considering how the product on the field has performed down the stretch of the season, that’s a good thing.
In fact, the Isotopes late season stumble has the organization flirting with the worst single season record in its 12-year history.
An announced crowd of 7,207, many there for 50-cent hot dog night, was on hand Monday night as the Nashville Sounds racked up 16 hits, including 11 extra base hits, and beat the Isotopes 9-3.
The loss drops Albuquerque to 57-72 on the season, 4-12 in the month of August and means the team hasn’t won back-to-back games since a three-game steak July 23-25.
“We finished up strong in July and then we hit this month and kind of hit a skid,” manager Damon Berryhill said. “We’re trying to battle out of it, but it’s been a rough go.”
The ‘Topes, mathematically-eliminated from postseason consideration over the weekend, were indeed still holding hopes in late July of making a run at a Pacific Southern Division title. Now, they are just two and half games ahead of division cellar dweller Salt Lake (55-75). They would have to finish 10-3 in their remaining games to avoid the worst record in Isotopes history.
The ‘Topes, then affiliated with the Florida Marlins, went 67-77 in 2004 for a .4653 win percentage. With a pair of games canceled this season due to weather, the Isotopes will play just 142 games. A 9-4 record to close the season would bring the team to 66-76 with a win percentage of .4648. A 10-3 close to the season (67-75) would result in a .4718 win percentage.
So what is the team’s mindset amid the late season collapse?
“We go out and we’ll work everyday and we try to put the best lineup out there,” Berryhill said. “We go out there and try to battle and win a ball game.
“It’s been a tough month pitching wise. We’ve been dinged up a bunch. We’re just finally getting back to a full bullpen rotation – finally getting back to a full roster. We’ve played with a 23-man roster probably 20 days out of the (past) month. We’ve just been really dinged up.”
The ‘Topes and Sounds conclude a four-game series tonight at the Lab.
RED ALERT: Former starter Red Patterson came on in relief in the seventh inning for the Isotopes on Monday night. The results were anything but ideal.
He pitched 1 inning, surrendering three earned runs off a home run, two doubles, a walk and he hit a batter.
Despite the struggles, fans should get used to seeing Patterson come out of the pen for the rest of the season.
“As of right now, we’re planning on him just finishing up in the bullpen,” Berryhill said. “He’s had a lot of innings this year and coming off of winter (league) ball, he’s had a lot of innings this year.”
Patterson is 4-8 this season with a 5.91 ERA.