Not much went according to plan for the Albuquerque Isotopes on Friday. Austin House was the exception.
The right-handed relief pitcher did his job to perfection and helped the ‘Topes walk away with a desperately needed 3-1 victory over Salt Lake at Isotopes Park.
With his team clinging to a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning, House came on with the bases loaded, one out, and speedy Bees outfielder Eric Young Jr. at the plate.
House, the Albuquerque native, had one thing on his mind. “Get a ground ball and try to get out of there,” he said.
“I knew how fast (Young) was, so I was hoping he’d make just enough contact for us to turn two.”
Mission accomplished. Young bounced a grounder to second base and the Isotopes’ infield was just able to complete the inning-ending double play.
“Sometimes a situation just feels right,” Albuquerque manager Glenallen Hill said. “In a jam like that, perfect world you want to bring in a guy who can get a ground ball. We bring in House and he gets one. What else can you ask for?”
House added a scoreless eighth inning, Carlos Estevez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save, and the ‘Topes managed to pull to within 2½ games of the division-leading Bees. The teams play again tonight and Sunday.
“I think without a doubt we all kind of knew we had to have this one,” House said. “Guys stayed calm, cool and collected, but we knew how big it was. Hopefully, we can build on it.”
It was an odd contest in front of a crowd announced at 11,407. Consider:
Isotopes starter Yency Almonte (2-1), who failed to record an out and allowed six runs in his last start, pitched six shutout innings and allowed three hits.
Stranger still: Eight of the first nine ‘Topes to bat reached base and Albuquerque built a 3-0 lead in the second inning. The final 21 Isotopes to bat were retired — 18 of them by Salt Lake starter Daniel Wright, who had appeared headed for an early shower.
“I think (Wright) did an excellent job of settling down and executing pitches,” Hill said. “I give him a lot of credit.”
As it turned out, Ryan McMahon’s RBI single in the first, Cristhian Adames’ run-scoring double and a Mike Tauchman sacrifice fly in the second would be enough offense for the Isotopes.
Salt Lake’s lone run scored on a wild pitch by Zac Rosscup, who later walked the bases loaded in the seventh to set the stage for House’s heroics. House lowered his earned-run average to 1.83 for the season.
NOTES: Rehabbing Colorado Rockies infielder/outfielder Ian Desmond took a six-inning turn in left field. He played first base Thursday. Desmond went 1-for-3 with a first-inning single, a strikeout and a flyout. … Isotopes pitching coach Mark Brewer was ejected in the seventh for arguing a non-strike call. Salt Lake’s Dustin Ackley appeared to offer at a pitch on a bunt attempt, but it was called a ball on appeal. Brewer charged onto the field after he was tossed but was eventually pulled away from the umpire by Hill.
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‘Topes Today for Saturday, August 26
Vs. Salt Lake, 7:05 p.m.
Radio: 610 AM
Promotion: Fan appreciation/postgame fireworks
Probable pitchers: Isotopes RHP Matt Flemer (8-7, 5.60) vs. Bees RHP Osmer Morales (2-1, 3.72)
Friday: Yency Almonte pitched six shutout innings and the Isotopes rode three early runs to a 3-1 victory over visiting Salt Lake in front of an announced 11,407 fans.
Ryan McMahon’s RBI single in the first and Cristhian Adames’ run-scoring double in the second helped the ‘Topes grab a 3-0 lead. Albuquerque did not have a hit after the second inning, but Almonte and three relievers made the lead stand up for the Isotopes.