After losing three of four games against El Paso in their last series in Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Bees headed to the Texas borderlands and won the first three games against the Chihuahuas (AAA affiliate of the San Diego Padres) before falling flat in game four in a failed attempt at the series sweep. Nevertheless the Salt Lake offense had a great showing over the four games, scoring 29 runs as the Bees retook the lead in the PCL’s Pacific Souther Division by two and a half games over Albuquerque. Next up for the Bees is the longest home stand of the year as they will play 11 games in 12 days at Smith’s Ballpark. First up is a four-game series against the Las Vegas 51’s before welcoming division rival Albuquerque for three games. The home stand culminates with a four-game series with Reno before the Bees hit the road again in Tacoma.
Game 1: Salt Lake 11, El Paso 10
From last night: C.J. Cron hits an oppo bomb for a grand slam. He's got 18 RBIs in 12 games with the Bees this season, which is pretty good! pic.twitter.com/vnwCps0NV9
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 2, 2017
The Bees looked like they were going to run away with game one of the series when they scored seven runs in the third to take a 10-0 lead, but El Paso never quit as the Chihuahuas scored four runs in the final three innings and just came up short in a slugfest. Salt Lake was off to a hot start in the first when they scored three runs thanks in large part to C.J. Cron’s two-run blast, but the offense was just getting started by the time they reached the third. Bo Way, Tony Sanchez and Forrestt Allday all recorded RBI hits before Cron stepped to the plate for the second time with the bases loaded. Launching another deep ball to right-center field, Cron tapped all four bases for the second time on the day as his grand-slam homer gave the Bees (what was thought to be) an insurmountable 10-run lead. El Paso would respond in the home half of the third with three runs before cutting the Salt Lake lead to four-runs with another three in the bottom of the fifth. Heading into the eighth the Chihuahuas had nearly completed the comeback with a 10-8 score, but the Salt Lake savior stepped to the plate again in the top of the ninth as Cron sent home Allday with a deep sac-fly to center field to put the Bees up 11-8. Carlos Asuaje bashed an RBI triple into left field to cut the deficit to two for El Paso in the bottom of the ninth and Jose Pirela followed with a grounded RBI single to put the go-ahead run at the plate with no outs. After Salt Lake closer Justin Miller earned a strikeout against El Paso’s Jabari Blash, the 10th-year pro forced Christian Villanueva into hitting a grounder to Nolan Fontana at third base. Fontana began the 6-4-3 double play that ended the game and gave Salt Lake a much needed road victory against the team that took three-of-four against them just a week ago.
Game 2: Salt Lake 5, El Paso 2
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 3, 2017
The Bees won game two of the series with an impressive defensive effort as Salt Lake starter Austin Robichaux went six innings deep, allowing two hits and two walks with three strikeouts in the 5-2 victory. In addition to Robichaux, Greg Mahle, Garrett Nuss and Brooks Pounders each took an inning on the mound while not allowing more than a single hit in their appearances. Of the 33 El Paso batters the Bees’ pitchers faced, 12 were retired via the ground out (including two double plays) as the pitch location and the infield defense dominated the game. After scoring two opening runs in the top of the second via an RBI single from Ramon Flores and a sac-bunt from Sherman Johnson, the Bees went up 3-0 in the top of the fourth with a Flores sac-fly that brought home Carlos Perez. Still up 3-0, Salt Lake would really take control in the top of the seventh when El Paso starter Kyle Lloyd walked both Flores and Johnson to lead off the inning. After Bo Way grounded Flores into a force out at third, the Chihuahuas made a pitching change with men on first and second and only one out. Reliever Rafael De Paula would begin his appearance with a wild pitch that advanced Johnson and Way and it would get worse when Kaleb Cowart smashed a line-drive double into right field to bring the score to 5-0 in favor of Bees. After scoring a run apiece in the seventh and eighth off the bats of Christian Villanueva and Dusty Coleman (HR), El Paso looked to have a chance at a comeback when Pounders walked the opening two batters in the bottom of the ninth. But, Pounders would escape the jam by forcing a strikeout, a fly out and a ground out consecutively to seal Salt Lake’s third win in four games.
Game 3: Salt Lake 11, El Paso 1
And that's a wrap Bees win!
Final score of 11-1, Klonowski takes the W pic.twitter.com/L9YAunY8LP
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 4, 2017
Like they had done in game one, the Bees scored seven runs in a single inning to take a big lead over El Paso. Unlike game one, Salt Lake kept their foot on the gas and shooed away any chance of a Chihuahuas comeback in a decisive 11-1 victory. With a 3-0 lead in the top of the seventh, it looked like the game would remain close after El Paso pitcher Logan Bawcom forced a ground out and a pop out from Salt Lake’s opening batters. Carlos Perez sent a two-out single into center field to put the first man on and Cesar Puello followed with a double to put men on second and third for Ramon Flores. An RBI single from Flores scored the two runners and gave the Bees a 5-0 lead before Matt Williams smacked a single into left field. With Sherman Johnson batting, El Paso was presented a gifted opportunity to end the inning when Williams was caught in a rundown trying to steal second base. An error by Dusty Coleman allowed Williams to reach third while Flores scampered home in the confusion to put Salt Lake up 6-0. A Michael Bourn triple, and doubles from Nolan Fontana and Dustin Ackley would increase the lead to 10-0 before a Perez strikeout finally ended the road half of the seventh. El Paso would score a solitary run in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a Jose Pirela sac-grounder that scored Cesar Puello, but that would be the only Chihuahua run allowed as starter Alex Klonowski and relievers Cody Ege and Drew Gagnon combined for eight shutout innings with only six hits given up in the lopsided win.
Game 4: Salt Lake 2, El Paso 5
— #VoteChihuahuas (@epchihuahuas) June 5, 2017
The Bees were unable to finish off the four-game sweep of the Chihuahuas in El Paso due to Salt Lake’s inability to bring runners home. The Bees stranded 12 base runners total (eight of them in scoring position) as their only runs came via solo home runs from Kaleb Cowart and newly assigned Jefry Marte. After failing to take a single lead in the first three games of the series, El Paso jumped on the Bees early as they scored all five of their runs in the bottom of the second. After an RBI single from Rafael Ortega put the home team up 1-0, a Jose Pirela sac-fly would bring home Nick Shulz to double the lead. Jabari Blash then singled to left field to score Ortega before Christian Villanueva stepped to the plate and shot a double into left field to put El Paso up 5-0. Cowart would respond in the top of the third with his solo shot to get the Bees back in the game, but too many missed opportunities with RISP doomed Salt Lake in inning after inning. Despite out hitting El Paso 11-7, the Bees were unable to claim their fifth win in six games before heading back to home to Salt Lake City.