51s manager Pedro Lopez says he isn’t into meetings.
But Friday night, after yet another loss, he thought one was necessary.
The 51s lost for the eighth time in 10 games, falling to the Omaha Storm Chasers 8-3 at Cashman Field. A couple of at-bats and body language from some players was all Lopez needed to see.
“Not that anybody did anything wrong — I don’t think they did,” he said. “We’re in the position that we’re at this point not because of lack of effort. I think the effort is there. I think tonight was the night that they needed to hear it. I think tonight was the night they needed to feel like, ‘Hey, you know what, we are struggling as a team, but I got their backs.’ … Hopefully tomorrow will be the start of a new season for us.”
This was the second meeting Lopez has held with the team. The first was after a five-error game in Sacramento.
That one was more about focus. This one struck a different tone.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we stick with the process,” Lopez said. “I know what a lot of people are looking at right now, it’s the wins and losses. The one thing that I’m looking for is the process that everybody’s going through, and at times we’re doing a good job going through that process and at times we’re not, and we’ve just got to make sure that we do things the right way in order for the game to repay us.”
Las Vegas never led Friday, falling behind 1-0 in the fourth inning on Paulo Orlando’s home run off starter Blake Beavan (0-2).
In the fifth, the Storm Chasers (16-17) touched Beavan for four runs, scoring on Garin Cecchini’s sacrifice fly and Orlando’s three-run double.
“Beavan got hurt,” Lopez said. “(He was) just inconsistent with his offspeed pitches.”
The 51s (15-20) scored one run in the fifth on Desmond Jennings’ home run and two in the seventh on Dominic Smith’s homer and Jennings’ sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 5-3.
Smith said he thought that might ignite the 51s. But after Josh Rodriguez’s single, L.J. Mazzilli grounded into a double play.
The Storm Chasers then scored three in the eighth.
“We’ve been playing really good teams,” Smith said. “They’ve had really good arms and really good bullpens. It’s tough to scratch a few runs across sometimes. We’ve just got to play better baseball. We’ve got to keep hustling, and we’ve got to play better defense and just hit well with runners in scoring position, and once we start doing that, I think that stuff will turn around.”
Smith said the veterans and coaching staff do a good job keeping everybody levelheaded and focused on playing hard.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “Nobody wants to play bad. Nobody is trying to play bad. You have a locker room full of 25 guys that all have one goal, and that’s to play hard and to win ballgames.”
But the 51s haven’t done that much in May, going 3-8. They have been outscored 71-50.
“Right now as a team, we’re not playing well, and I think that’s the bottom line,” Lopez said.
Who: Omaha Storm Chasers at 51s
When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cashman Field
Starters: Jake Junis (1-2, 3.52 ERA), Omaha, vs. Josh Smoker (0-0)
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.
Thursday: Iowa at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
The 51s will give away a batting practice top Saturday to the first 2,500 fans.
Contact Betsy Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.