In light of all the player shuffling the Las Vegas 51′s and Binghamton Mets have endured this season, whether due to outright promotions, filling in for injured players, or replacing ineffectual ones from Flushing, what both teams have thus far accomplished has been nothing short of remarkable.
Tuesday evening, the Binghamton Mets set a new franchise record with their eighty-third victory of the season. They previously won eighty-two games in a season three other times. In continuing to dominate the Eastern League this year, the Mets posted their second straight road victory over the Bowie Baysox. The BMets overcame a first inning 1-0 deficit in the top of the second, led by Cory Vaughn‘s tenth home run of the season. They shortly took a 3-1 lead on runs batted in by Richard Lucas and Wilfredo Tovar. Starter Logan Verrett pitched five innings to earn his league leading twelfth victory of the season. The bullpen pitched four innings and allowed a run before closing out a 3-2 final. Jeff Walters retired the side in order in the ninth to pick up his circuit leading thirty-seventh save. Binghamton now has six games remaining on the schedule to possibly add upon their franchise record before the playoffs begin on September 4th.
In the Pacific Coast League, and under the popularly described blistering Las Vegas, Nevada sun lies Cashman Field, home of the 51′s where many have complained over the years how innocent fly balls drift for home runs in the high elevation, and ground balls skip along oven baked infields for astro-turf like base hits. Under these very conditions, the Mets first year AAA-affiliate has posted a 40-28 home record, and so far played seven games above .500 on the road. And if you must know, yes, they are slugging their way towards a division flag. They rank first in the PCL in runs scored, doubles, home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. They rank third in on-base percentage, fourth in team batting average and walks drawn, and fifth in total hits. And for all that offensive production, they have only struck out the sixth least times in a circuit of sixteen teams.
Las Vegas entered Tuesday’s play twenty games above .500 with a 78-58 record, and staked to a 3.5 game division lead over the Sacramento River Cats. Their seventy-eight wins were tied with the Oklahoma City RedHawks for most victories in the circuit. Vegas made a valiant comeback attempt last night against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, but ultimately fell short in a 13-12 losing effort. Oklahoma City won their game, and now hold a one game advantage for most wins over Vegas with a 79-59 record. The Sacramento River Cats were victorious in their game last night as well. So for the moment, the Las Vegas 51′s first place lead has been reduced to 2.5 games, while they still own a magic number of five to clinch the Pacific Southern division flag over the River Cats, with seven games to go in the regular season.
Even more so than Binghamton this season, Las Vegas has had a never ending revolving door of players keeping each other’s lockers occupied. And if you haven’t noticed, the Las Vegas 51′s do not miss first baseman Josh Satin. In 220 at-bats for Vegas, Josh batted .305, hit fourteen doubles, nine home runs, slugged .491 and drove in thirty-two runs. Playing first base for the 51′s in his absence is twenty-six year old Eric Campbell. After 311 at-bats, he is batting .302, has twenty-two doubles, eight home runs, is slugging a slightly lower .469, but has driven in fifty-nine runs.
The team’s pitching statistics might also have followed traditional PCL suit. The Las Vegas 51′s combined 2013 staff ranks in the middle or towards the bottom of most pitching categories. But that shouldn’t detract from the fact there are quality players now passing through Las Vegas (and Binghamton) in quantity, that weren’t necessarily trickling through before. The results on the field are speaking for themselves.