This was not where they hoped to be.
Not even close.
Before the season began, manager Pedro Lopez was touting the team’s mixture of veterans and younger players — including two of the Mets’ top prospects — saying whenever you have that mix, “you can have a good feeling about the team.”
The 51s closed out the first half of the season with a win 13-11 Sunday over Albuquerque at Isotopes Park, but the season has gone far from as planned.
“Nobody wants to be in this position but the main thing is I feel like guys are getting better. We’re starting to see all the hard work paying off, especially at the plate,” manager Pedro Lopez said.
They finished the half 20 games under .500 at 35-55, near the bottom of the Pacific Coast League.
They are comfortably in last place in their division and are 14 games behind leader Salt Lake.
“I think at the end of the day, everybody wants to be in first,” Lopez said. “Our main focus right now is just trying to get guys better and I think we’re doing that.”
Constant roster moves throughout have done nothing to help the cause.
“I thought that the first half we were really inconsistent, inconsistent in all aspects of the game. I thought that’s the one thing that was keeping us away from basically taking off and having a solid month or a couple weeks,” Lopez said. “I think that we’re starting to see guys come around. I think the bats are coming around … getting big hits with men in scoring position.”
That was on display Sunday.
After scoring a combined five runs in the first two games of the series, the 51s’ offense busted out on Sunday.
Both offenses showed up in force, with a combined 37 hits in the game. Las Vegas had 20 of those with three each from Travis Taijeron, Xorge Carrillo, Phillip Evans and pitcher Ricky Knapp.
The 51s jumped out in front early with one run in the first, one in the second and four in both the third and fourth innings.
They added on three more runs in the sixth and seemed to have a comfortable 13-5 lead before Albuquerque (44-45) started knocking on the door.
The Isotopes made the game closer with one run in the bottom of the sixth, four in the seventh and one in the eighth.
“I thought we did a really good job swinging the bats early, took an early lead and they kept coming back,” Lopez said. “It was just a good battle from both sides.”
Evans, Carrillo and Josh Rodriguez hit home runs in the win while Gavin Cecchini drove in four runs.
Knapp gave up six runs in his 5 2/3 innings and reliever Kyle Regnault gave up four runs in his 1/3 inning pitched before Kevin McGowan came in to nail down the save, sending the 51s off on a three-day break on a positive note.
“It’s been a slow process,” Lopez said. “It’s been ups and downs throughout the first half but we’ve just got to stay positive and keep going at it.”
Who: Albuquerque Isotopes at Las Vegas 51s
When: 7:05 p.m. Thursday
Where: Cashman Field
Starters: TBD vs. Mitch Atkins (5.51 ERA)
Monday: Triple-A All-Star break
Tuesday: Triple-A All-Star break
Wednesday: Triple-A All-Star Game, Tacoma, Washington, 6:05 p.m.
Thursday: Albuquerque at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: Albuquerque at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
The 51s are off until Thursday when they open a home series against the Albuquerque Isotopes. Shortstop Amed Rosario will represent the 51s in Thursday’s Triple-A All-Star Game in Tacoma, Washington. Hitting coach Jack Voigt will serve in that role on the Pacific Coast League’s staff.
Contact Betsy Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.