When things are going bad …
The Albuquerque Isotopes couldn’t buy a break or a key hit or really much of anything in the opener of a four-game home series Saturday night. Such has been their luck of late.
Salt Lake sent the reeling ‘Topes to their ninth straight loss in relatively easy fashion. The Bees rallied for four runs in the fifth inning and coasted to a 5-2 victory in front of an announced 8,737 fans.
Albuquerque’s offense remained largely silent, managing just eight hits (all singles) to go with 10 strikeouts. The Isotopes also rolled into a double play and had two runners thrown out on the bases.
It was a typical ‘Topes performance during the skid as Albuquerque’s pitching was good enough but its offense was not. The Isotopes have scored just 14 runs total during the nine-game funk.
Manager Glenallen Hill took some positives away from a ninth-inning rally that accounted for Albuquerque’s two runs and brought the tying run to the plate. Frustrating as the scoring slump has been, Hill believes a breakout is imminent.
“It’s coming,” he said. “Sometimes you have to make your own breaks, and we didn’t capitalize on our chances tonight. But I saw better at-bats, and these guys are leaving it all out there. It’s coming.”
Despite a number of quiet innings, the Isotopes were a bounce away from breaking through several times Saturday. Tom Murphy hit a drive that was caught atop the center field berm with a runner on in the fourth. Jeff Bianchi later bounced an apparent run-scoring double down the left-field line in the seventh that would have put runners on second and third.
The ball was called foul, and Bianchi later struck out.
“I don’t have a good angle coaching third,” said Hill, who waved his base runners around before realizing Bianchi’s ball had been ruled foul. “I didn’t hear (the umpire) call it foul. Depth perception said ‘fair’ to me.”
Bianchi’s sacrifice fly and Joey Wong’s RBI single trimmed the deficit to 5-2 with two runners on base in the ninth. But Rafael Ynoa struck out to end the contest.
Isotopes starter Kyle Freeland worked six innings in his Triple-A debut, allowing five runs (four earned) on 11 hits, with five strikeouts. A walk, an error and two soft singles helped to sting Freeland during Salt Lake’s four-run fifth inning.
“He was pretty good,” Hill said of Freeland. “We didn’t convert a couple plays behind him (in the fifth), but other than that he pitched really well.”
OPPORTUNITY LOST: Isotopes fans almost got a long-awaited opportunity to see reliever Al Alburquerque pitch in Albuquerque. Yes, the veteran is on Salt Lake’s roster as the Bees visit the Duke City for a four-game series.
Unfortunately, Alburquerque was placed on the disabled list with an undisclosed injury. With luck he’ll recover by the time the Bees return to Albuquerque on July 26.
DASH OF COLOR: The Isotopes sported a new all-black uniform look Saturday night, their 13th uniform combination this season. Oddly, the debut of Blackout Saturdays came on the same night when 2,000 adult fans lined up for a purple jersey giveaway.