The stage was set for a little hometown magic.
Albuquerque native Austin House made his first home appearance for the Albuquerque Isotopes and things seemed to be falling nicely into place for House to earn his first Triple-A win.
The former La Cueva High and University of New Mexico standout pitched two scoreless innings of relief and turned in a sparkling defensive play, during which time the Isotopes trimmed a 4-0 Sacramento lead to 4-3.
Unfortunately for House, the ideal scenario did not play out. The ‘Topes’ rally stalled, visiting River Cats plated three more runs in the eighth inning and Sacramento took a 7-3 victory in the opener of an eight-game Albuquerque home stand.
Still, it was a memorable night for House, who has enjoyed a number of them at Isotopes Park over the years. The right-hander struggled in his first two outings after being promoted from Double-A, but has posted four scoreless innings in his last two appearances.
“It was good,” House said. “Obviously, I could have got a couple more people out but putting zeroes on the board is all that matters. It was nice to do it with friends and family here, too.”
House allowed three hits and struck out two, helping his cause with a nice hustle play to end the seventh inning. It came after Ryan Lollis’ two-out chopper deflected off the glove of Isotopes third baseman Rafael Ynoa into left field. Sacramento’s Ramiro Peña tried to advance from first to third, but ‘Topes left fielder Stephen Cardullo fired to third where House made a sweep tag for the out.
“I didn’t know if Ynoa was going to get back to the bag,” House said, “so I knew I had to get over there. I saw (Peña) making a charge to third and the throw was right there. I was grateful.”
Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill was pleased by the outings of House and starting pitcher Shane Carle.
Carle shut the River Cats out for four innings before allowing a three-run homer to Hak-Ju Lee in the fifth.
“Carle is a fierce competitor and he’s moving in the right direction,” Hill said. “With House, I believe it’s just a matter of being consistent with what he brings to the table. The last couple outings he’s settled in and worked down in the zone with his plus-changeup. He’s been impressive.”
Sacramento’s pitching staff, however, was a bit more impressive Monday.
Starter Albert Suarez and three relievers limited the Isotopes to five hits and struck out six.
Jordan Patterson was 2-for-2 and reached base four times for Albuquerque, but his teammates reached base just four times combined.
Dustin Garneau had a two-run homer but struck out three times for the ‘Topes.
JUAN TIMES TWO: Albuquerque and Sacramento have something in common for this week’s series: Juan Ciriaco. Each has an infielder by that name but it’s no misprint. Juan Manuel Ciriaco of the Isotopes is the younger brother of the River Cats’ Juan Aneuris Ciraco. Sacramento’s Juan is six years older.
The brothers played in the same game once in 2015. Juan Manuel went 2-for-3 for New Britain, while Juan Aneuris scored as a pinch runner for Richmond. Both Juans got into Monday’s game as pinch-hitters but no bragging rights were awarded.
Juan Manuel struck out for Albuquerque in the seventh, Juan Aneuris grounded out with the bases loaded for Sacramento.