Make no mistake, the clubhouse at Isotopes Park is a sight for sore eyes for Warren Schaeffer and his team after a grueling road trip that has seen Albuquerque’s Triple-A baseball team spend 16 days between home games.
But, while the 13-29 Isotopes went just 4-8 in that span — a 3-3 split at Salt Lake City followed by a 1-5 series at Reno, where the Aces have the best record in Triple-A West — Schaeffer insists the past couple weeks did plenty of good for his squad ahead of its return home Thursday for a 12-game home stand, starting with Tacoma for six games.
“It was good to be on the road. I think the guys did get to spend some good, quality time together,” said Schaeffer, who hopes his young roster’s bonding will pay off this summer.
The Isotopes certainly have had players heating up, especially at the plate. Players doing so at the same time, however, hasn’t happened as much, but the Isotopes did average 9.8 hits per game on the road trip (they also averaged 6.6 runners left on base in that span) and have scored seven runs per game over their past four.
Infielder Rio Ruiz tore it up at Salt Lake (June 10-15) with a .538 average (14-of-26) with six runs, 6 RBIs, seven doubles and a pair of homers. In the past five games, centerfielder Sam Hilliard broke out of a slump in a big way, hitting .444 (8-of-18) with five home runs, 13 RBIs and eight runs.
For Schaeffer, it’s now a matter of “putting it all together and streaking hits together” — something he believes is coming.
“It’s all gonna link up here soon. I’m telling you, it’s a matter of time,” said Schaeffer.
COMING UP: The 12-game home stand for the Isotopes will feature two fireworks shows — this Saturday after the game with Tacoma and the Fourth of July (next Sunday) fireworks show against El Paso, which is often the top-attended game of the season for the franchise.
There will also be a youth quidditch jersey giveaway Friday and July 3 the team will transform into Los Mariachis de Nuevo Mexico.
(Click here for Triple-A West standings.)