The Albuquerque Isotopes added a big slugger to their lineup Sunday. A big performance followed.
Former National League MVP Ryan Howard played his first game in a ‘Topes uniform, and his first hit was a 400-foot double off the wall at Isotopes Park. But Howard finished well down the hitting food chain as Albuquerque clobbered visiting Fresno 22-1.
The Isotopes racked up a season high in runs, tied a franchise record for hits (24) in a nine-inning game and set a franchise mark for margin of victory while taking out a few frustrations on a Grizzlies team that has owned them. Fresno went into Sunday night’s game leading the season series 11-3 and had won seven straight over Albuquerque.
“It felt great,” said Isotopes second baseman Rafael Ynoa. “They’ve been crushing us, like bad. We finally gave them some of their own medicine.”
Hitting stars? The home team had a slew of them.
Ynoa, Raimel Tapia and Mike Tauchman collected four hits apiece to help the Isotopes pull to within a half-game of first place Salt Lake in the PCL’s Pacific Southern Division. The Bees lost 5-3 to Sacramento on Sunday.
“We haven’t swung the bats well lately,” Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill said, “and we haven’t played very well against Fresno. Does it feel better to win a game like this because it’s against them? No. But everyone contributed tonight, and that does feel good.”
Cristhian Adames went 3-for-5 with a double, a homer, and five RBIs for the ‘Topes. Tony Wolters (3-for-6) and Tom Murphy (2-for-5) also homered.
In fact, the 37-year-old Howard, who played first base, and shortstop Daniel Castro were the only starters to settle for just one hit.
The huge offensive outburst proved far more than Albuquerque starter Zach Jemiola needed. The right-hander worked six strong innings, allowing just two hits and striking out four to improve to 5-3.
“Zach’s been working some things, finding a way to create consistency,” Hill said. “Tonight he was consistent with his delivery and his ability showed up. He threw 57 of 88 pitches for strikes. That’s pretty good.”
Hill also was impressed with Howard’s first professional game since he early May, when he was released by the Atlanta Braves after a brief stint at Triple-A Gwinett. Howard’s night at the plate included three fly outs and two strikeouts. He made several solid plays defensively.
“He moved well and looked like he was comfortable,” Hill said. “I think it was a pretty solid start.”
Howard, the National League MVP in 2006 with the Philadelphia Phillies, signed a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies on Saturday but did not appear in either game of the Isotopes’ doubleheader loss on that day. He is expected to speak to the Albuquerque media for the first time today.