When the 51s hit the field for a Tuesday matinee against Reno, they’ll be looking to avoid a sweep.
They’ll also be looking to avoid giving up less than seven runs in the game, a feat they haven’t accomplished in their first three games of the series against the Aces.
All three of those games have been losses, the latest, a 9-4 defeat Monday at Greater Nevada Field.
It’s a tough task against the Pacific Coast League’s top team at its home park, where the Aces are 24-11.
Monday, it was Ricky Knapp’s turn to go against the offensive juggernaut and Zach Borenstein’s turn to do the offensive damage, driving in five runs — one in the second, three in the fourth and one in the fifth.
The Aces lead the league with a .302 batting average. Their 474 runs scored is 50 more than the next closest team and they are averaging 6.67 runs per game.
Knapp lasted five innings, and the numbers were ugly: eight runs, 12 hits. Borenstein was the No. 7 hitter in the lineup, with Knapp getting little reprieve 1-8.
Five players — Socrates Brito, Christian Walker, Oswaldo Arcia, Jack Reinheimer and Borenstein — had two or more hits in the come-from-behind victory for the Aces.
“We’re probably playing the best team in the league and it’s a good-hitting ball club,” manager Pedro Lopez said. “If you make a mistake, they’ll make you pay, especially in a ballpark like this. The ball travels a lot so we have to make sure that we make good pitches. Unfortunately tonight we didn’t do that.”
Las Vegas (27-44) took a first -nning lead against starter Eric Jokisch with a Phillip Evans RBI double and a Dominic Smith sacrifice fly.
Reno chipped away at the deficit, scoring a run in both the second and third innings before Borenstein’s three-run home run in the fourth gave Reno a 6-3 lead.
Knapp hasn’t been able to avoid the big inning in recent starts. Against Sacramento on June 14 in a 5-4 loss, the River Cats scored four runs in the sixth inning. The start before that, the Rainiers scored five in the third innning in another 51s loss. On June 4 against these same Aces, Knapp gave up three runs in the sixth inning in a 4-1 defeat.
“The last few starts he hasn’t been able to stop the bleeding,” Lopez said. “I know that he’s pitching up in the zone with a lot of pitches and getting hurt.”
The 51s have now given up 24 runs in three games At the beginning of the month, they were able to salvage two games against the Aces with some better pitching.
This time around, they’ll be lucky to salvage one.
“It goes both ways. (It’s) us not making good pitches and them having a good lineup,” Lopez said. “The first time we were here I thought we played well and just unfortunately we haven’t been able to do that.”
Who: Las Vegas 51s at Reno Aces
When: 1:05 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Greater Nevada Field, Reno
Starters: Tyler Pill (4-1, 2.04 ERA) vs. Frank Duncan (6-4, 5.52 ERA)
Thursday: Salt Lake at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: Salt Lake at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Salt Lake at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday: Salt Lake at Las Vegas, 12:05 p.m.
Las Vegas reliever Beck Wheeler was activated from the disabled list on Monday and Tim Peterson was reassigned to Double-A Binghamton. Also, outfielder Jayce Boyd was activated from the disabled list.
Contact Betsy Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.