The New York Mets’ needs come first. Then the Las Vegas 51s’.
The Mets came calling for Tyler Pill, who was supposed to be on the mound on Friday for Las Vegas. Having Pill start would have helped the struggling team’s chances of victory, as Pill has gone 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA this season.
But that’s life in Triple-A.
Thrust into a bullpen game, the 51s lost 7-3 on Friday at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas, to the Round Rock Express.
The loss was the team’s fifth straight, marking its longest losing streak of the season.
Beck Wheeler drew the start because he was fresher than Logan Taylor and Kevin McGowan, two former starters who would be the typical choices for spot starts.
Taylor, who threw 27 pitches Thursday, was not an option.
“We decided to go with Wheeler since he hasn’t pitched in seven days. We figured that he probably could give us two or three innings and then we’d go with McGowan and the rest of the bullpen. It just unfortunately didn’t pay off the way we wanted,” manager Pedro Lopez said.
Wheeler had never started a game in the minors, and his first start did not last long.
After the 51s jumped out to a lead in the first inning on Dominic Smith’s sixth home run of the year, Wheeler gave up that and more in the next two innings.
The Express scored one run in the first off Wheeler before breaking open for six more in the second.
“I think the second inning he just went away from what he was trying to do and looked like he was trying to pitch away from contact,” Lopez said.
Wheeler gave up a single to open the inning. After the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice, a Travis Snider double gave the Express a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Wheeler then walked the next two batters to load the bases before another RBI double — this one a two-run double — and walk ended his outing.
McGowan, who came in and retired the next two batters of the inning, did give up two hits, allowing all three inherited runners to score.
He didn’t give up a run of his own in his 1 2/3 innings and neither did Alberto Baldonado (two innings), Erik Goeddel (one inning), Chasen Bradford (one inning) or Hansel Robles (one inning), thanks in part to the four double plays turned behind them.
“The rest of the guys did a really good job keeping us in the ball game,” Lopez said.
The 51s offense behind them went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. They scored their second and third runs in the eighth inning on a Victor Cruzado single with the bases loaded, which plated Amed Rosario and Smith.
The loss dropped the 51s to 3-5 on their road trip and 7-18 in the month of May. The silver lining is that aside from Wheeler and McGowan, the bullpen should be in decent shape heading into their series with El Paso, as they made the best of a situation that was not idea.
“Those two guys threw quite a few pitches but everybody else should be good,” Lopez said. “We did a good job managing our bullpen and trying to keep everybody (fresh) for tomorrow.”
Who: El Paso Chihuahuas at Las Vegas 51s
When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cashman Field
Starters: Tyrell Jenkins (3-4, 5.06 ERA) vs. Wilfredo Boscan (0-2, 3.45)
Sunday: El Paso at Las Vegas, 12:05 p.m.
Monday: El Paso at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Tuesday: El Paso at Las Vegas, 12:05 p.m.
Thursday: Las Vegas at Reno, 7:05 p.m.
Scheduled starter Tyler Pill was called up by the Mets on Friday. He was 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA before his promotion. Rafael Montero was sent down to Triple-A to make space on the 25-man roster. To make space on the 40-man roster, Seth Lugo (elbow) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
Contact Betsy Helfand at email@example.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.