The bullpen hasn’t always been a strong suit in Albuquerque’s long professional baseball history.
But there’s no denying it’s been a strength of late for the Isotopes, whose bullpen again shut down the opposition in a 6-0 win over the Tacoma Rainiers to open a four-game home series.
The Isotopes bullpen has put together four-consecutive games of shutout pitching over 13 innings of work, allowing just eight hits and three walks.
“Yeah, I think they’ve been able to catch their breath a little bit and we’ve been able to get some guys some rest,” said Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill, referring to the bullpen being worked heavily for a stretch about a week ago on the road. “We’ve had a seven-inning performance by Chi Chi (Gonzalez) a couple outings ago. We got (Nelson) Gonzales, who was able to give us some innings the other day (in relief). Our bullpen is being able to pitch on some rest and not having extended outings.”
On Friday, the Isotopes bullpen followed six shutout innings from starter Ryan Castellani (2-0, with a season ERA of 1.72) with three shutout innings of its own to give the team its first home shutout since July 5, also against Tacoma.
‘Topes reliever Sam Howard allowed three hits, no runs and one strikeout in two innings and Jesus Tenoco closed the ninth with a shutout inning with no hits, a strikeout and a walk.
The synergy between the pen and the starters has made their manager happy.
“(Castellani is) coming along just fine,” Hill said on Friday night. “Trusting his stuff, his strike zone. He’s throwing strikes and throwing to contact.”
At the plate, the Isotopes got 13 hits, including a 2-for-4 outing from second baseman Brendan Rodgers, who had a monster two-run homer to straightaway center field in the third inning and also a double. Catcher Dom Nuñez was 3-for-4 with a double and Sam Hilliard hit his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot in the second inning.
3-PACK: The Isotopes introduced on Friday a new “New Mexico 3-Pack” ticket package for $42 that gets fans a box-level ticket to the July 21 Dukes Retro night, the July 27 Green Chile Cheeseburgers Night and the Aug. 24 Fan Appreciation Night game.
More information and tickets are available at abqisotopes.com and at the Isotopes Park Box Office.
PREGAME QUIDDITCH: What Wizard night would be complete without a pregame quidditch match in right field?
While neither the Isotopes nor any team in Minor League Baseball can call it a “Harry Potter” night anymore, that was the unspoken theme of Friday night’s game, with a pregame dress like your favorite wizard parade and also a pregame quidditch match from the East Mountain High School quidditch team.
The red team beat the blue team, 120-80.
There were Harry Potter-esque youth Isotopes jerseys handed out at the gates to the first 2,000 kids in the park and special butter beer was served throughout the game (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic).
FAMILIAR FACE: There was a familiar face at Isotopes Park on Friday.
While he wasn’t in uniform, former Isotope Clint Robinson was in the ball park working again, this time as a scout for the Florida Marlins organization.
Robinson appeared in 243 MLB games over from 2014-16. He played in 11 minor league seasons, including for 119 games with the ‘Topes in 2014, the last season Albuquerque was an affiliate of the LA Dodgers.