New mascot, familar story line.
The Sugar Land Space Cowboys – formerly known as the Skeeters – continued to make themselves entirely too comfortable at Isotopes Park on Tuesday night.
Starting pitcher Brandon Bielak allowed one hit in six shutout innings, Sugar Land hitters bashed seven home runs and the Space Cowboys soared to a 20-1 romp over the Albuquerque Isotopes in the opener of a six-game series in front of an announced 6,911 fans.
Alex De Goti smacked two of Sugar Land’s long balls, only a couple of which required any help from a strong wind blowing out to left field. Others, like Lewis Brinson’s 458-foot blast to right-center, were never in doubt.
“The wind was blowing out for us, too,” Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer said. “The wind blows out a lot here and the ball flies. Tonight they took advantage of it.”
Sugar Land came into Tuesday’s game with some of the Pacific Coast League’s best pitching numbers but its worst team batting average. The latter number undoubtedly improved after a 19-hit performance against Isotopes pitching.
While Tuesday’s result was beyond the norm, Sugar Land hitters have made a habit of fattening their statistics in Albuquerque. The Skeeters put up 90 runs in 12 games at Isotopes Park last season (their first as a Triple-A affiliate), winning eight of 12.
The Space Cowboys cashed in on the weather conditions early, sending a pair of wind-aided home runs to left field in the opening inning. David Hensley’s two-run shot, with an exit velocity of just 92 mph, blew just over the fence and gave Sugar Land a 2-0 lead. De Goti later sent a three-run homer into the jet stream, landing it in the Isotopes bullpen.
Isotopes starter Zach Neal kept the margin at 5-0 until the fourth, but Sugar Land turned the game into a home-run derby against Albuquerque’s bullpen, yielding one long ball in the fifth inning, another in the sixth and three in a seven-run seventh.
“We’ve been down early a lot of late,” Schaeffer said, “but we always fought back until tonight. (Bielak) was really good, we got out of our game plan a little bit and things never got any better.”
With the outcome decided early, Bielak (2-0) provided the only drama by holding the Isotopes without a hit through five innings. Kyle Holder broke up the no-hitter with a ground-ball single to left field to lead off the sixth. It was the only hit allowed by Bielak, who walked two and struck out seven in six innings.
Albuquerque broke up the shutout against reliever Chad Donato in the eighth, when Ryan Vilade and Holder singled and a throwing error on Wynton Bernard’s ground ball brought home a run.
ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Tuesday marked the ninth time in franchise history that an Isotopes opponent scored 20 or more runs, but it fell one run short of the largest margin of defeat. Oklahoma handed the ‘Topes a 24-4 loss in 2004.
The seven home runs allowed by Isotopes pitching Tuesday also narrowly missed record territory. Salt Lake roughed up Albuquerque for eight long balls in a 2019 road game. Tuesday’s total tied the mark for most homers allowed in a home game.
The Isotopes have not enjoyed much success against Houston Astros affiliates over the years. Oklahoma City, Fresno, Round Rock and Sugar Land are a combined 85-38 against Albuquerque.
6:05 p.m., Isotopes Park, 610 AM.95.9 FM
PROBABLES: Space Cowboys RHP Shawn Dubin (1-1, 4.22) vs. Isotopes TBA
TUESDAY: Alex De Goti smacked two of Sugar Land’s seven home runs and the visiting Space Cowboys rolled to a 20-1 rout of the Isotopes in the opener of a six-game series.
Albuquerque was outhit 19-3 and did not have a hit against Sugar Land starter Brandon Bielak until Kyle Holder’s leadoff single in the sixth. Holder finished with two of the ‘Topes’ three hits.
Albuquerque starter Zach Neal (2-3) allowed five runs on two homers in the first inning and was tagged with the loss. De Goti and David Hensley had three hits apiece for Sugar Land.
Tuesday’s contest was the first of 33 games scheduled between the teams this season.