On Thursday, the Las Vegas 51′s kicked off their 2014 regular season at Cashman Field, by hosting the first of four games against the Fresno Grizzlies. So far, each contest featured one of several New York Mets highly touted starting pitching prospects, and in their first appearances, respectively delivered on their promise. Led by their initial trio of talented arms, the 51′s captured two of the first three games from the visiting Grizzlies.
Rafael Montero‘s first start of the season just happened to coincide with the Mets recent opening series bullpen implosions, and getting swept by the Washington Nationals. Montero’s impressive Opening Day victory naturally ignited a firestorm of debate regarding his potential ability to help the club sooner than later.
Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom also made their 2014 mound debuts, and similarly pitched impressively. The fourth pitcher of Las Vegas’ talented starting quartet is Logan Verrett, who will start the final game of the series this afternoon. He led the Eastern League in victories last season.
4/3 – Opening Night:
Fresno 2; Las Vegas 9
Rafael Montero completed 6 full innings, allowed no earned runs. just four hits, and no walks. He faced 21 batters and fanned 5 to earn his first victory of the season. He threw 79 pitches, with an impressive 55 (69.6%) going for strikes.
The 51′s cranked out 13 hits in support of Montero, led by Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who was 4 for 4, with a home run, and Zack Lutz, who was 2 for 4, with a late inning grand slam home run.
4/4 – Game Two:
Fresno 8; Las Vegas 11
Noah Syndergaard took the mound in Friday night’s game. He completed 6 full innings, allowing 2 earned runs on 6 hits. He faced 24 batters, fanned 5, and issued 1 walk in earning his first victory. Noah threw 76 pitches, with 51 (67%) going for strikes.
Las Vegas cranked out 12 more hits. Zach Lutz continued to wield a dangerous bat, going 3 for 4, with a double, and 2 RBI. Cesar Puello was 2 for 4, with an RBI, and Juan Centeno was 2 for 5, also with an RBI. After Syndergaard, the second star of the game goes to recently acquired veteran outfielder, Bobby Abreu, who entered the game as a pinch hitter, and doubled to drive in 3 runs.
4/5 – Game Three:
Fresno 8; Las Vegas 6
Although Jacob deGrom pitched as well as his mates, he suffered a tough no-decision when the bullpen failed to secure a 6-1 lead in the 9th inning. Thus voiding a potential sweep, and instead, incurring the 51′s first defeat of the season.
The 51′s bullpen suffered their own implosion, allowing 7 runs in the final frame, with Josh Edgin at the center of things. In just 0.2 innings of work, he surrendered 5 earned runs on 3 hits. He fanned 1, and issued 2 walks. Erik Geoddel was charged with a blown save and loss.
On the bright side, Jacob deGrom pitched 6 innings, and allowed 1 earned run on just 4 hits. He fanned 6, and issued 1 walk. Jacob threw 76 pitches, with an extremely impressive 57 (75%) going for strikes.
The hits kept coming for the 51′s – another 15 hits on Saturday, gave them 40 hits for the series. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is the hottest of the 51′s. He was 2 for 5 in the game, with another RBI to give him three, and is now 7 for 13 (.538) after 3 games.
4/6 – Game Four, Sunday:
Sacramento River Cats @ Las Vegas 51′s – April 7-10.