A season ago, Brady Rodgers carved his way through the Pacific Coast League, going 12-4 with a 2.86 ERA on his way to being named the league’s top pitcher.
A season later, not much has changed.
Rodgers, who threw three quality starts against Las Vegas last season, did so again Thursday night, giving up one run in six innings as Fresno defeated the 51s 12-4 at Cashman Field.
“He was working the plate really well, and he was making good pitches,” said 51s right fielder Travis Taijeron, who finished with two hits. “He kept the ball down in the zone. It was really tough to hit against that because he was throwing ground balls all night. I give him props for that.”
The 51s (3-5) had 10 hits and opportunities to score. But they went 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position, hit into two double plays and stranded seven.
“It’s happened to me a countless amount of times this year where I’ve had a guy in scoring position and I grounded out, but you know what, it’s early in the season and we’re out here and we’re trying to get better every single day,” Taijeron said. “This is a process, and we’ve just got to stick to it and eventually everything’s going to fall. Baseball always ends up coming around.”
Las Vegas manager Pedro Lopez said the team “went away from the game plan” with runners in scoring position.
“We were just trying to get a good pitch to hit. I feel like we did get good pitches to hit. I think that at times we got good pitches to hit and didn’t offer at them,” Lopez said. “And there (were) times we’re too aggressive and swung at pitches that are not good to hit and grounded into a couple double plays again tonight.”
It didn’t help that the 51s were trailing almost instantly.
Within two batters, the Grizzlies (5-3) had their first run.
Tony Kemp tripled off Las Vegas starter Donovan Hand to lead off the game and scored on Derek Fisher’s sacrifice fly.
A.J. Reed added a solo home run in the first, and an inning later, the Grizzlies took off.
Fresno began the second with three straight hits on their way to scoring five runs in the inning — their second five-run second inning in two nights.
Hand gave up seven runs — six earned — in five innings, but none after the second.
“He really started pitching inside more, and that’s what I told him — I said, ‘That’s what you need to do when you’re playing in ballparks like this,’” Lopez said.
Hand’s five-inning stint somewhat helped preserve a tired bullpen, which worked seven innings Wednesday and will have to work all of Friday’s game, as the scheduled starter, Sean Gilmartin, will be summoned to the Mets after their marathon 16-inning game Thursday.
Who: Fresno at 51s
When: 7:05 p.m. today
Where: Cashman Field
Starters: Edison Frias (0-0, 4.15 ERA), Fresno, vs. TBA
Saturday: Sacramento at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday: Sacramento at Las Vegas, 12:05 p.m.
Monday: Sacramento at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Tuesday: Las Vegas at Fresno, 6:35 p.m.
Wednesday: Las Vegas at Fresno, 6:35 p.m.
The Mets optioned pitcher Paul Sewald to Las Vegas on Thursday to make room for outfielder Juan Lagares, whom they activated from the disabled list.
Also, the 51s put Victor Cruzado on the disabled list retroactive to Tuesday to make room for Sewald. Manager Pedro Lopez said Cruzado strained his oblique in El Paso.
Contact Betsy Helfand at email@example.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.