It’s been a tough two weeks for the 51s.
After falling behind by four runs in the first inning Monday night, it looked like it might have been more of the same for the 51s, who had come in losers of 10 of their past 12 games.
After all, the team scored just 11 runs in its four-game series against Omaha, which concluded on Sunday.
“It was kind of like a here we go again but it was the first inning and you still have a lot of baseball left,” infielder Phillip Evans said. “I’m glad we strung together (at-bats) and played hard the rest of the game and came out on top tonight.”
They started their comeback in the bottom of the first off Cubs starter Rob Zastryzny.
Zastryzny gave up a hit and two walks before walking off with the team’s trainer.
His replacement, Juan Paniagua, gave up a bases-loaded walk to the first batter he faced, Travis Taijeron, to plate a run and then uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Amed Rosario.
Two innings later, a Jeff Glenn RBI single cut the Iowa (15-21) lead to one. A batter later, they tied the game. Evans broke toward third on a wild pitch and after the Cubs’ catcher threw the ball into left field, Evans scored.
Starter Sean Gilmartin, who gave up the four runs on five hits in the first, was removed after 3 2/3, held to a pitch count still in just his second start back from New York.
He gave up eight hits and walked a batter in his 82-pitch outing.
“I thought that Gilly didn’t have his best stuff tonight but battled and gave us a chance to win the ball game and then the bullpen did a much better job tonight,” manager Pedro Lopez said.
Kevin McGowan came in after Gilmartin and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief.
He also picked up the win, as the 51s took a lead in the fourth inning that they would never relinquish on Dominic Smith’s fifth home run of the season.
In the sixth, Amed Rosario hit a three-run blast to center and in the eighth, Travis Taijeron also homered, his a two-run shot.
“Hitting is contagious so I think you see a guy get one or two hits a game, it’s kind of like you feel like you can get one or two hits a game,” Evans said. “If everyone keeps that mindset, we’ll be alright.”
Evans was one of three players (Rosario, Smith) who had two hits in the game.
He said the team was more patient and selective Monday, as evidenced by the team’s eight walks. The 51s also finished the night with 10 hits.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we keep on building on what happened tonight,” Lopez said. “Hopefully the guys can go out there tomorrow with the same approach and the same mentality. We just have to be aggressive with pitches that we can drive. It’s not taking just to take. It’s scaring pitchers out of the strike zone and I thought that we did a good job tonight.”
Though there were positives and Lopez said he thought the team was aggressive in the strike zone, he also said they still had work to do with men in scoring position, as they went 4-for-13 in such positions and had opportunities early that they couldn’t capitalize on.
“We’ve still got a lot of room to grow but certainly I hope this game shows these guys ‘Hey, we can go out there, we can do it,’” Lopez said.
Contact Betsy Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.
Who: Iowa Cubs at Las Vegas 51s
When: 7:05 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Cashman Field
Starters: Aaron Brooks (3-3, 6.50 ERA) vs. Tyler Pill (2-1, 1.06 ERA)
Wednesday: Iowa at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Thursday: Iowa at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: Las Vegas at New Orleans, 5 p.m.
Saturday: Las Vegas at New Orleans, 4 p.m.
Sunday: Las Vegas at New Orleans, 11 a.m.
In Tyler Pill’s last start, the right-hander gave up four runs (three earned) in seven innings. Before that, he had given up just one earned run in 27 innings with the 51s.