It was a forgettable Sunday night for the Albuquerque Isotopes, as a botched double play ball scored two runs, including the go-ahead run, and Salt Lake – the worst team in the Pacific Coast League – went on to a 4-3 victory before a listless crowd of 6,103 at Isotopes Park.
The Bees came into Sunday with the worst road record in the PCL (9-20) and the worst overall record (20-37).
“We just didn’t swing the bats well,” Albuquerque manager Damon Berryhill said. “I’d like to say they pitched a great game against us … we should be doing a better job hitting those baseballs.” The Isotopes have been involved in seven, one-run decisions over the last eight games. They are 2-5 in those games.
“This is just a tough stretch,” Berryhill said. “If you’re locked in these 1-run games, you have to be flawless on defense, because that’s usually what costs you.”
And that is precisely what hamstrung Albuquerque (25-31) when it came undone – ever so briefly – in the sixth inning, leading 2-1.
Luis Jimenez tripled with one out down the right field line, and Efren Navarro drew a walk off Isotopes starter and loser Red Patterson (2-5).
Roberto Lopez followed, and grounded a hard one-hopper to second baseman Miguel Rojas, who looked to turn a double play and get Patterson off the hook.
But Rojas threw low and to the left-field side of shortstop Carlos Triunfel, who was helpless to make a play on it, and the ball trickled toward the left-field line.
Jimenez scored easily, and Navarro raced around from first as the Bees took a 3-2 lead.
“I know Miggy is trying to rush it so we have an opportunity to turn it,” Berryhill said. “But offensively, we have to be able to overcome that.”
The Bees added an insurance run in the seventh on Tommy Field’s RBI double; Albuquerque (25-31) countered in the bottom of the eight as Clint Robinson’s RBI single to right plated Rojas, who led off with a double to left. Rojas is on a tear of late at the plate, with five consecutive multi-hit games.
Salt Lake’s pitching staff also has the worst collective ERA of any of the 16 franchises in the PCL (5.96 starting the day), but the Bees effectively piecemealed their way through the Albuquerque lineup.
Starter Dustin Richardson came out of the bullpen for a spot start, and acquitted himself fairly well, giving up two runs in 32/3 while striking out seven.
It was the near-perfect middle relief of Yeiper Castillo (1-0) that solidified things for Salt Lake. He tossed 31/3 hitless innings.
NO HAMILTON: Isotopes fans didn’t get a second look at Josh Hamilton, whose rehab assignment with the Bees came to an abrupt end on Sunday afternoon.
The parent L.A. Angels were expected to have Hamilton remain with Salt Lake through Monday, but after a brief workout at Isotopes Park early Sunday afternoon, he reportedly hopped a flight to Houston where he will join the Angels for a series beginning Tuesday night.
The 2010 American League MVP tore a ligament in his thumb April 8, which led to surgery.