The Salt Lake Bees couldn't score a single run for games at a time during their recent road trip.
But coming home to Spring Mobile Ballpark worked wonders for the Bees' offense on Saturday night. Salt Lake put together a monster first inning and then coasted to an 8-3 win in front of a near-sellout crowd of 15,617.
"We came out really aggressive at the beginning of the game and swung the bats well," said Bees manager Bobby Mitchell. "Everybody got involved, and that's a good thing."
The Bees returned home after a disastrous road trip in which they lost six games in a row — getting shut out in three of those games, including one game where they were no-hit. Salt Lake even went 36 straight innings during a four-game stretch without plating a single run.
That wasn't a problem on Saturday. In the first inning against Las Vegas starter Fabio Castro, the Bees sent 12 batters to the plate, pounding eight hits and scoring eight runs. Freddy Sandoval, Terry Evans and Chris Pettit drove in two runs each.
While the Bees did all their run-scoring in the first inning, Sandoval's big night wasn't done. He had four hits to improve his batting average to .321 after spending much of the season on the disabled list following wrist surgery.
"It's been a long year and there have been a lot of ups and downs," said Sandoval. "Personally, being out for 10 weeks was hard and then going on the road and going through what we went through was tough."
Bees starting pitcher Brad Salmon used the 8-0 to his advantage by throwing strikes and letting the defense do their job. He scattered seven hits, giving up two runs in seven innings without a single strikeout to improve to 5-4.
Salt Lake is now 61-66. The Bees made up a full game on first-place Colorado Springs on Saturday, but they still trail the Sky Sox by seven games. With just 16 games remaining, it appears Salt Lake's run of three consecutive division titles will come to an end.
The Bees and 51s will meet again Sunday at 2 p.m.
BEES WAX: The parent Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim recalled Bees reliever Rafael Rodriguez on Saturday. Rodriguez, 24, has appeared in 19 games for the Bees with three saves and a 1.80 ERA. Meanwhile, starting pitcher Sean O'Sullivan has been sent back down to the Bees from the Angels.