After falling short in his bid to become the Blue Jays’ fifth starter, Aaron Laffey got off to a rough start for the 51s.
But the veteran left-hander turned in his best outing of the year Sunday, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning and limiting Salt Lake to two hits in seven scoreless innings to help Las Vegas to a 8-0 victory at Cashman Field.
“I’m starting to get into a groove and get comfortable,” said Laffey (1-4), who lowered his ERA from 7.20 to 5.63. “I’m starting to throw the ball well.”
Reliever Bobby Korecky allowed one hit in two innings to finish Las Vegas’ second three-hit shutout in 10 games. The 51s (15-16) have won a season-best five straight games and nine of 10 after opening 6-15.
“We got off to a rough start, but we’ve done a great job of staying in there and turning it around,” David Cooper said. “We’re hitting the ball better, we’re pitching better and we’re playing great defense.
“It’s a lot more fun coming to the field every day the way we’re playing.”
Cooper had two home runs and three RBIs, and Anthony Gose added a two-run blast as the 51s hit three homers for the second straight day.
Las Vegas will try to complete a four-game sweep of Salt Lake (15-16) – which has lost 10 of 11 – at 10:35 a.m. today on School Day.
Cooper, who has three homers in two days and four this season after hitting nine last year, also doubled to lift his average to .333.
“I’m getting some pitches to hit and fortunately, right now, I’m not missing them,” he said. “My swing feels really balanced at the plate and I’m seeing the ball well.”
Yan Gomes went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs to raise his average to .388, Ricardo Nanita had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games and Chris Woodward and Mike McCoy supplied two hits apiece in the 14-hit attack.
The 51s, who have outscored their opponents 40-13 during the win streak, plated three runs each in the first and third innings.
Cooper belted a two-run bomb to center in the first inning and Gomes drilled a run-scoring double to left-center for a 3-0 lead.
Gose and Cooper went back-to-back in the fourth for a 7-0 advantage. Gose launched his first homer of the year over the right-field wall and Cooper followed with a shot to right-center.
Laffey, who has spent most of the past five seasons in the majors – going 21-23 with a 4.34 ERA for the Indians, Mariners and Yankees – retired 13 straight batters after issuing a two-out walk to Kole Calhoun in the first.
John Hester led off the sixth with a single to break up Laffey’s no-hit bid in his longest outing of the year.
“It’s nice to get past six,” the 27-year-old Laffey said. “That’s your goal, to go six-plus every time you’re out there. You don’t want to leave games early.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354.LAS VEGAS 8
SALT LAKE 0
■ KEY: Aaron Laffey and Bobby Korecky combined on a three-hitter, David Cooper had two home runs and Anthony Gose also homered.
■ NEXT: Bees (RHP Garrett Richards) at 51s (RHP Jesse Chavez), 10:35 a.m. today, KBAD-AM (920)