Heading into the final inning at Smith’s Ballpark on Tuesday night, it was anyone’s ballgame in a battle between Salt Lake and Las Vegas. The series-opening contest was in the 10th inning after neither team could score after 9.
At this point, Las Vegas had seven hits, Salt Lake five. The 51s had three runs, the Bees three. The Bees used five pitchers and the same for Vegas.
An unforced error.
With the game in the balance, Salt Lake’s Kaleb Cowart took a grounder that was dribbling toward the foul line and fired it to first, but the throw was off. First baseman C.J. Cron couldn’t scoop up the errant toss, allowing Las Vegas to score the winning run in the 4-3 victory.
“We’ve had a lot of close games we’ve lost,” Bees manager Dave Anderson said. “It’s about executing, especially with one-run games late in the game. We struggle a little bit with that.”
The Bees had the opportunity to respond in the bottom half of the 10th, but couldn't, dropping their season record to 28-44.
Starting pitcher Tyler DeLoach went 5 ⅓ innings for the Bees, striking out three while giving up five hits and three runs. Gary Brown led the way at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Brown was the only Salt Lake hitter to have a multihit game.
In the loss, the Bees had the tall task of going against the Pacific Coast League’s best pitcher to date in Las Vegas’ Steven Matz. The top pitching prospect for the Mets — Matz was ranked the No. 2 prospect heading into 2015 behind Noah Syndergaard, who is currently in the majors -- went into the contest with a PCL-leading 2.11 ERA, which is a more accomplished mark when compared to the rest of this league.
But in the bottom of the second, Matz gave up a home run to Salt Lake’s Jett Bandy. The catcher was working the count against the highly-regarded pitching prospect and eventually Bandy found a pitch that he liked and sent it over the wall.
“I just tried to stay on top of it, and I hit it on the barrel and it went out,” Bandy said.
However, that was just the sixth homer Matz has surrendered this season in over 90 innings pitched. After Tuesday night’s game, no one in the PCL has pitched more innings than Matz (former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito is just an inning behind), yet the lowest total of home runs given up by any pitcher after him is 10, four more than he’s given up.
Players in the PCL are aware of what Matz can do during their at-bats and Bandy claims that it can change your mindset at the plate.
“It’s going to be a battle and you have to be that much better,” Bandy said of facing Matz. “He’s a great pitcher, he’s got good stuff.”
While Matz and the 51s got the better of Salt Lake on Tuesday, the Bees will look to rebound on Wednesday.
GAME NOTES: C.J. Cron and Grant Green both had their eight-game hitting streaks end after going 0-for-4 … Despite pitching one inning and recording two strikeouts, closer Jeremy McBryde took the loss … The attendance was 5,013 … The 51s are the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets.