Las Vegas 51’s Snap Five Game Skid, But Still Fall Into First Place Tie

By Michael Lecolant

Wally Backman‘s club snapped a five game losing streak, but now find themselves locked in a mathematical tie for first place with the Sacramento River Cats.  In the closest race of the four division circuit, the 51’s own a 61-53 record with a .535 winning percentage, while Sacramento is 62-54, with a .534 winnings percentage.

In Game Two of their series against the Memphis Redbirds, Las Vegas defeated their hosts by a 4-2 final, and gained a temporary split in their four game series.  The game remained scoreless through three innings.  Then in the top of the fourth third baseman Wilmer Flores put the 51’s on the score board with his fifteenth home run of the season off Memphis starter Michael Wacha.  Back from suspension, Jordany Valdespin followed with a single, and first baseman Zach Lutz then doubled to score Valdespin.  Matt den Dekker‘s two out single scored Lutz for a 3-0 Las Vegas lead.

Mar 15, 2013; Jupiter, FL, USA; A bag of warmup balls sits in the dugout before the game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Nationals 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis finally scored off starter pitcher Rafael Montero in the seventh inning, on a one out double by second baseman Kolten Wong, and a two out single by third baseman Greg Garcia.

Las Vegas made it a 4-1 game in the top of the ninth when Eric Campbell was struck by a pitch with the bases loaded.  Memphis managed one run off reliever Greg Burke in the bottom of the frame, which necessitated skipper Wally Backman to summon Robert Carson to close out the game.  Carson then recorded his eighth save of the season.

On the hill, and making his eleventh AAA start, Rafael Montero, 22, pitched eight strong innings to pick up his third win since being promoted.  He allowed just one earned run on four hits, walked no batters and struck out four.  He brought a 4.32 ERA into the game, and walked off with a 3.89 mark.  Comparatively, in eleven starts and 66.2 innings pitched with Binghamton, he posted a 2.43 ERA.

Montero’s eight innings against Memphis represented his longest outing of the season.  His high over nine previous starts with Las Vegas was six innings, which he managed three times.  Then there was his spot start for Vegas on May 21st, in which his pitched seven highly effective innings.  He pitched seven innings on two other occasions with Binghamton during back to back performances in early June.

In 51.1 AAA innings now, Rafael Montero has allowed fifty-eight hits.  Therefore Sunday’s four hit performance speaks particularly well.  He has forty-eight strikeouts, and based on his previous standards, has walked a lofty eighteen batters.  He only walked ten batters in 66.2 innings with Binghamton.


Game Three on Monday will feature pitcher Chris Schwinden for Las Vegas, opposed by Redbirds starter Tyler Lyons.

Flushing Notables:

  • Ruben Tejada: 0 for 4, one strikeout.  His average has steadily slipped below .300, to a current .293 mark.
  • Jordany Valdespin: Despite a continued poor attitude – 2 for 4, one run scored, two strikeouts.  Batting .466 with Vegas.
  • For the Flushing fans clamoring for Wilmer Flores: 1 for 3, home run (15).  Batting .322 this season.

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