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Thursday, July 20, 2006
'Topes Ride Pinto to a Split
By Randy Harrison
Journal Staff Writer
As badly as manager Dean Treanor wants his Albuquerque Isotopes to win every night, there are times when the big picture takes precedence.
Wednesday night at Isotopes Park was one of those occasions. Pitcher Renyel Pinto got a chance to prove to Treanor, and by extension the parent Florida Marlins, that he has the stuff to get through adversity.
Pinto responded by getting a game-ending groundout with the tying run on base, preserving a 3-2 Isotopes victory over New Orleans and salvaging a doubleheader split.
"We lose the first game. Personally I felt I have to win this game because we've been losing, losing, losing," said Pinto (8-2).
But this makes two of the last three after a 1-12 start to July for the Isotopes, who wrap up the home series tonight with the Zephyrs.
Game 1 went 6-4 to New Orleans and Billy Traber over Pinto's fellow Venezuelan Yusmeiro Petit. It was a makeup of a Tuesday night rainout, the fourth weather-related postponement in the Isotopes' four-year history.
In the nightcap, Pinto had a four-hit shutout through six innings before New Orleans rallied in the seventh, and last inning. A single, hit batter, RBI double and RBI groundout left New Orleans down 3-2 and a runner on third with lefty-swinging George Lombard at the plate.
When Lombard worked a walk, out came Treanor as closer Brad Clontz was heating up in the bullpen.
"When he came, I got a little mad," said Pinto, laughing. "I told him, 'You know what, I want the last out.' I knew inside my heart, we had to win that game.''
Treanor knew that if he lifted Pinto for Clontz, New Orleans could pinch-hit lefty slugger Ryan Church, who hit a two-run homer in the first game, for switch-hitting Henry Mateo.
But more to the point, "The most important factor is (Pinto) wanted to stay in the game, (catcher Chris) Ashby wanted him to stay in the game, and his stuff was still good," said Treanor. "For him to help us at the next level, he has to be able to pitch out of jams like that with the game on the line. It's that simple."
Mateo hit a 2-1 pitch to third baseman Mike Kinkade, who fumbled the ball but threw in time for the game-ending out.
It was precisely two weeks earlier that Pinto followed right-hander Petit also in a memorable day in Washington. Petit, 21, made his first big-league start that day and won 18-9 despite giving up four first-inning runs. Pinto, 23, earned his first save at any level with four innings of mopup.
That they are now both in Albuquerque indicates that they have work to do to fulfill their considerable potential. Treanor says Pinto needs to rely on his fastball more when he gets in trouble.
Petit, who yielded five runs in four innings of game one, had just arrived from Florida on Tuesday.
"He got into trouble because, like, for three days he didn't throw," said Pinto. "For me personally, I don't think of the Marlins. I think of the Isotopes. I have to be focused on this team and win this team."
In the opener, New Orleans soft-tossing lefty Traber gave up four runs on four hits in the second inning and trailed 4-2, then shut out the Isotopes through the rest of six.
NOTES: The Marlins have promoted infielder Edgar Gonzalez from Double-A Carolina to the Isotopes. He started game one at second base and played most of the nightcap after Drew Niles injured an ankle running the bases.
Gonzalez, 28, batted .295 in 64 games at Carolina. He is the older brother of Adrian Gonzalez, a former No. 1 draft pick who was an original (2003) Isotope. And, it might be noted, had a well-documented rocky relationship with manager Treanor.
... Isotope Nic Ungs (7-8, 3.90) faces fellow right-hander Anastacio Martinez (3-6, 4.50) in tonight's series finale. Headbands go to the first 3,000 fans.
New Orleans at Albuquerque, 7:05 p.m. Radio: KNML-AM (610)