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Isotopes can’t pair hot bats with pitching

Albuquerque Isotopes catcher Brian Serven is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run against Las Vegas Aviators during their game Sunday night at Isotopes Park. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

The bats came alive Sunday for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

But, they couldn’t find enough pitching to generate a win against Las Vegas.

On an odd night where the main and secondary scoreboards had issues and were eventually shut down, and a line drive got stuck in the bullpen fence and was ruled a double after originally being called a home run, the Aviators found enough offense to win 11-8.

“That’s minor league baseball for you,” Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer said of the oddities.

“Baseball, they always say, you see something new every night,” he added with a chuckle.

For Schaeffer, it was refreshing to see the Isotopes (9-19) put a charge into the ball.

“The offense was good from the beginning pretty much to the end,” he said. “Twenty-three quality at-bats and 10 hits. You want that every night. We only had four punch-outs and drew four walks.”

Slugging center fielder Sam Hilliard, who has struggled since his demotion from Colorado, had a strong game with two hits, including a triple. Left fielder Taylor Motter and catcher Brian Serven each had two hits and each had a double.

“It was good to see Sammy Hilliard square some balls up. He did that the other day, too,” Schaeffer said. “He’s trending in the right direction. Serven is trending in the right direction. Motter the same thing up. And up and down the lineup, when you’re getting production like that, it’s a very good thing. Hopefully we can continue that over to (Monday’s game).”

It looked like it was going to be a rough night early when in the top of the second inning an error, a walk and a Cody Thomas 3-run home run to straight away centerfield — one that was nearly caught by Hilliard — put the Aviators up 3-0.

Isotopes pitchers had entered the game with a stingy 3.04 earned-run average over the prior eight games, but Albuquerque starter Brandon Gold scraped together five innings pitched, giving up four earned runs.

Still, Gold was in line for the win when he left.

“That’s what he’s known for,” Schaeffer said. “He competes. He gave up that 3-spot in the second inning and we bounced right back with six, so we gave him a three-run lead there. He was grinding. I don’t think he had his best stuff. But only one run in the third and one in the fourth. He left with a lead. And his best inning was the fifth. It was the quickest, it was the cleanest. He got better as he went.”

The bullpen, however, could not hold it, although it had a 1.79 ERA in that eight-game stretch.

Heath Holder (0-1) took the loss after a brief, five-batter inning. In the sixth Following a strikeout, Holder gave up a double and an RBI single before walking two batters to load the bases and was yanked.

Designated hitter Nate Mondou greeted reliever Jesus Tinoco with a two-RBI double to push Las Vegas into a 9-7 lead, one that the Aviators never gave up.

“Holder and Tinoco, neither one of those guys had pitched in six days,” Schaeffer said. “So, maybe just a little rust on them. They went in there and competed. They just didn’t get the result that they wanted.”

NOTES: The Isotopes had not scored more than five runs in any of the previous 10 games before busting out for six in Sunday’s second inning. …

Before this loss, Albuquerque had a 9-4 record in Sunday home games dating back to the start of 2019. …

The Isotopes are a season-worst 10-games under .500 for the second time this season. …

The Isotopes’ food and beverage company, Spectra Food Services and Hospitality, will be holding a job fair on the Isotopes Park concourse Thursday from 4-7 p.m., with more than 50 positions available.

‘Topes Monday: vs. Las Vegas, 6:35 p.m., 610 AM/95.9 FM, abqisotopes.com

PROBABLES: Aviators RHP Paul Blackburn (1-1, 3.90) vs. Isotopes RHP Ryan Castellani (1-4, 7.54)

SUNDAY: The Isotopes scored six runs in the second inning but just two more the rest of the way in an 11-8 loss to Las Vegas in front of an announced crowd of 3,351.

The six-game series is tied 2-2.

BOX SCORE: Aviators 11, Isotopes 8

STANDINGS: Triple-A West





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