Tyler Pill, as he’s been doing all year both in Triple-A and Double-A, pitched well enough to get a win on Thursday.
But with no run support behind him, the Las Vegas 51s fell to their seventh loss in their past nine games.
The Omaha Storm Chasers (15-17) took the series opener 5-1 on Thursday at Cashman Field after scoring four runs — three earned — off of Pill in his seven innings pitched.
“I think just as a team we’re not playing well,” manager Pedro Lopez said. “We’ve just got to make sure that everybody starts clicking, everybody starts having good at-bats. Our pitchers can go out there on a daily basis and give us quality outings. I thought Tyler did that tonight and just overall, we’ve just got to play better.”
The 51s (15-19) had plenty of opportunities Thursday against Josh Staumont, the Kansas City Royals’ top pitching prospect.
“We had their pitcher on the ropes at least four times and just couldn’t get the hits,” Lopez said. “Men on third base, less than two outs, we just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed to. I think we changed our approach for whatever reason. I thought that was the game.”
The 51s did a good job getting themselves into those positions to begin with. Staumont walked five and hit one while giving up four hits, but they couldn’t do anything with those opportunities.
“He’s their No. 1 prospect for a reason,” outfielder Desmond Jennings said. “He’s going to get in those situations and he’s got the stuff to get out of them. But at the same time, we’ve got to find a way to move the baseball and get those guys in as a team.”
Las Vegas went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 12 runners on base.
The 51s also struck out 14 times in the game, 10 of them coming against Staumont.
“We put ourselves in good situations and for whatever reason, we probably were trying to do too much and got away from the game plan,” Lopez said.
The 51s knew Staumont was going to come at them with a barrage of fastballs and Lopez said hitting coach Jack Voigt told the players to sit on the fastball and try to lay off the curve.
“When you throw the ball 95, you can make mistakes,” Jennings said. “You can get away with some mistakes and he got us to chase some pitches. He did what he was supposed to do.”
Jennings, who is now on a nine-game hitting streak, was one of the bright spots offensively for the the 51s, going 2-for-4 with his home run in the eighth inning accounting for the team’s only run.
By the time he hit it, the team had already been staring at a four-run hole.
Pill gave up two runs in the third on a Paolo Orlando single after walking two batters earlier in the inning.
In the fourth, he gave up two more on a Dean Anna double. One was unearned after first baseman Dominic Smith made a throwing error.
Omaha added their fifth run in the ninth inning when Raul Mondesi Jr. homered off of reliever Erik Goeddel before the 51s went down in order — all on swinging strikeouts — in the bottom of the frame.
“Our offense, they’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to start clicking here, we’ve got to somehow we’ve got to get our offense going and right now it’s not flowing the way we want it,” Lopez said. “I thought that tonight we had a really good chance to come up on top and just unfortunately we didn’t do that.”
Contact Betsy Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.
Who: Omaha Storm Chasers at 51s
When: 7:05 p.m. Friday
Where: Cashman Field
Starters: Jake Junis (1-2, 3.52 ERA), Omaha, vs. Blake Beavan (0-1, 18.69 ERA)
Saturday: Omaha at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday: Omaha at Las Vegas, 12:05 p.m.
Monday: Iowa at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Tuesday: Iowa at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Iowa at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
The 51s’ roster, which has been in flux, saw plenty of changes the past two days. Arnaldo Berrios was sent to Single-A Brooklyn on Wednesday. On Thursday, Gavin Cecchini was added from the Major League Taxi Squad, Alberto Baldonado was called up from Double-A Binghamton and Josh Smoker was activated after being sent down from the New York Mets. And Cory Burns and Tim Peterson were sent back to Double A.