51s relegated to bullpen game, lose 5th straight

The 51s’ loss Monday didn’t induce flashbacks to a 7-3 May loss to Round Rock for manager Pedro Lopez, but maybe it should have.

Like that game, the 51s were thrust into a bullpen game because the New York Mets called up Tyler Pill, that day’s scheduled starter.

Like that game, Beck Wheeler drew the start.

And like that game, Wheeler couldn’t make it through two innings, though the bullpen shut down the opponent afterward.

Monday, the 51s fell 6-4 to Memphis at Autozone Park as the Redbirds sent the 51s to their fifth straight loss and 10th of 12 since the All-Star break.

“That’s too far back for me to remember,” Lopez said. “The only thing I know is that he was the freshest guy that we had out of the bullpen. He had three days off and we were hoping that he would give us two or three solid innings and unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

Logan Taylor, who has made four spot starts this season for the 51s, is on the disabled list and Kevin McGowan, who has made one, would have been working on less rest than Wheeler.

Though Lopez was hoping to get more innings out of Wheeler, he was limited by a pitch count and wound up throwing nearly 60 pitches in less than two innings, forcing an early exit.

He gave up six runs in his 1 2/3 innings.

“It’s one of those things where you try and throw out there the guy that’s freshest,” Lopez said. “In this case, it was him and he had a tough time out there.”

The Redbirds (66-35) scored three runs in the first inning and after the 51s (37-65) got one back in the top of the second with a Dominic Smith solo home run, Memphis knocked Wheeler out of his spot start with three more runs.

The 51s did respond with three runs of their own in the top of the third thanks to back-to-back RBI doubles from Neil Walker and Amed Rosario to cut the lead to 6-4, but that would be last time either team would score.

The effects of the call up and short outing will last longer than just Monday’s game as the 51s will be without Alberto Baldonado and Kyle Regnault for the first game in Nashville and Wheeler for even longer. Though Lopez said Ben Rowen would be available, the righty did pitch in three of four games in Memphis.

The 51s did get solid performances from all three relievers who came out of the bullpen. Baldonado tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings while Rowen and Regnault followed with two scoreless innings each.

But the damage had already been done.

“I thought it was a good battle besides the first two innings of the ballgame,” Lopez said. “After that, the guys did a good job. (The) pitchers came out of the bullpen … (and) did a really good job keeping us in the ballgame.”

Up next

Who: Las Vegas 51s at Nashville Sounds

When: 5:05 p.m. PT

Where: First Tennessee Park, Nashville, Tennessee

Starters: Donovan Hand (2-4, 6.92 ERA) vs. Jharel Cotton (2-0, 4.11 ERA)

Next five

Wednesday: Las Vegas at Nashville, 5:05 p.m. PT

Thursday: Las Vegas at Nashville, 5:05 p.m. PT

Friday: Las Vegas at Nashville, 5:05 p.m. PT

Saturday: Colorado Springs at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.

Sunday: Colorado Springs at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.

Update

Right-handed starter Tyler Pill was called up to the parent New York Mets on Monday as Zack Wheeler was placed on the disabled list. Wheeler has a stress reaction in his right arm. … Also, outfielder Brandon Nimmo joined the 51s on rehab on Monday as he comes back from a collapsed lung.

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

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