The sellout crowd might have come to see the post-game fireworks Tuesday at Southwest University Park but saw quite a few rockets come off the Albuquerque bats in their 11-5 win over El Paso.
The Chihuahuas’ loss and a late-night win by the Salt Lake Bees over the Las Vegas 51s means the Dogs are presently tied for first place in the PCL Pacific Southern Division. Both the ‘Dogs and the ‘Topes now share a 45-40 record atop the PCL’s Pacific Southern Division.
The Albuquerque Isotopes out-hit the Chihuahuas 16-5, mostly due to ‘Topes starter Jon Gray who pitched five innings of no-hit baseball. Gray, who was sent to AAA Albuquerque on Saturday, threw a total of 80 pitches in six innings.
The ‘Topes wasted no time against El Paso scoring four runs in the third inning and never let up. The runs started with a bomb over the Peter Piper Deck in left field by shortstop Daniel Castro (.341 BA) and continued with some well-placed hits with runners in scoring position – including a bases-clearing double, Albuquerque 4-0.
Albuquerque came right back in the fourth and added more on a two-run home run by second baseman Garrett Hampson (.317 BA), Albuquerque 6-0.
The Dogs were finally able to connect against Gray in the sixth inning when the speedy shortstop Javy Guerra (.197 BA) hit a grounder off the glove of the ‘Topes second baseman and raced to first base. A subsequent home run by center fielder Forrestt Allday (.255 BA) brought Guerra home, Albuquerque 6-2.
Albuquerque was merciless in the later innings, adding a run in the eighth inning and four more in the ninth. The barrage in the ninth fell on reliever Brad Wieck who gave up a two-run home run, two singles and a double.
Dogs manager Rod Barajas made an unconventional decision soon after and asked third baseman Diego Goris to get the last two outs – and he did! Goris, who has made at least one other emergency relief pitching appearance, faced two hitters and got the outs on a 4-3 grounder and a line drive to right field, Albuquerque 11-2.
Allday led off the ninth with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice fly and ultimately scored on a wild pitch. First baseman Brett Nicholas doubled in Franmil Reyes and offered some excitement to the stadium. The Dogs rolled over after scoring one more run on a ground out to second base, Albuquerque 11-5.
The winning pitcher is Gray (1-0) and the losing pitcher is Colin Rea (1-2).
Albuquerque 11 El Paso 5 – Tuesday
WP: Gray (1-0) | LP: Rea (1-2) | S: None | Time: 2:51 | Attn: 9,972
Box Score | Team Records: Albuquerque (42-42), El Paso (45-40)
Next Game: Wednesday, 6:35 pm at Smith’s Ballpark. El Paso RHP Walker Lockett (3-7, 4.98) vs. Salt Lake LHP Jose Suarez (0-3, 5.23). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Words by Larry Monarrez | Photos by ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post