Conditions were ideal for a long night of home run derby Monday at Isotopes Park.
Winds howled out to right field to the extent that airborne dust obscured the Sandia Mountains. Balls sailed over the fence regularly during the Albuquerque Isotopes’ pregame batting practice.
The game against Salt Lake followed a different plot line.
Pitching dominated most of the game and nary a long ball was hit in the 12-inning contest that began in front of an announced crowd of 5,990. The ‘Topes ultimately took a 4-3 win on the strength of Jamie Romak’s soft RBI single, opening their longest home stand of the season (12 games) with a marathon win that fell three minutes short of four hours.
While the chilly wind chased many fans home early and turned some fly balls into adventures, it did little to help the hitters in a game that featured just 18 hits. Sixteen of them were singles.
The one exception for the Isotopes was a double by Chone Figgins, but that turned out to be a significant hit. It came just after Miguel Rojas reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the 12th and put runners on second and third against Salt Lake reliever Brandon Lyon (0-3).
Lyon intentionally walked Joc Pederson to load the bases, and Romak fought off several two-strike pitches before lining his game-winning hit to right-center. Romak was mobbed by teammates as he tried to jog off the field.
Jose Dominguez (1-1), the fourth Albuquerque pitcher, got the win with two scoreless innings of work. But justice was not served as the game’s most impressive pitcher, Isotopes starter Henry Sosa, got nothing to show for 71/3 strong innings of work. Sosa shut the Bees out on three hits through seven innings, striking out five.
The right-hander left after allowing two singles in the eighth – one of them a bouncer that deflected off Sosa’s glove and trickled to a stop behind the mound. The ‘Topes led 2-0 at the time, thanks to Pederson’s two-run single in the fifth.
But reliever Daniel Moskos allowed a four-pitch walk to load the bases, and the Bees’ Grant Green hammered Josh Judy’s first pitch for a three-run triple. Salt Lake suddenly led 3-2.
The ‘Topes tied it when Pederson singled and later scored on Clint Robinson’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth. And to his credit, Judy settled down and pitched well after his first offering. He worked 22/3 innings and was not charged with a run.
But Albuquerque’s offense, which has been ever-so quiet of late, missed several chances to plate a potential winning run prior to the 12th. The Isotopes had runners at first and third with one out in the 10th, and advanced a runner to third with two outs in the 11th, only to strand them.
It was a familiar refrain after the ‘Topes scored four runs total in a four-game series at Fresno. Remarkably, Albuquerque won two of those games.
The Isotopes also hit just enough to pull out Monday’s contest. Pederson led the way, going 3 for 4 with two walks and a pair of RBIs. Figgins and Trayvon Robinson had two hits apiece for Albuquerque.