Make mistakes against the top-hitting lineup in the Pacific Coast League and they’ll make you pay.
The 51s learned that firsthand on Monday.
The Reno Aces, who entered the day batting .293 as a team, capitalized on four errors by the 51s, beating Las Vegas 9-4 on Monday night at Cashman Field in the series opener.
“It’s a good lineup,” 51s manager Pedro Lopez said. “They’re missing a couple guys. They’re missing (Ketel) Marte. They’re missing (Jeremy) Hazelbaker. They’re missing a couple guys there that were big in the lineup but still, it’s a good lineup and you really have to minimize your mistakes against them.”
Two of those four errors came in the first inning, helping allow Reno to jump out to a four-run lead.
Center fielder Victor Cruzado and shortstop Matt Reynolds made errors to go along with the four hits given up by starter Ricky Knapp.
“It’s hard because it puts him in a tough spot. It’s a team effort but he’s also got to make pitches,” Lopez said. “I thought that he made some mistakes but at the same time I thought he did a really nice job making pitches and (kept) getting ground balls.”
The 51s (43-72) never could come back from that early deficit, though they did chip away in the first three innings.
They scored once in the first on back-to-back doubles from Matt Reynolds and Dominic Smith, once in the second on a Gavin Cecchini RBI single and once in the third on a Jayce Boyd home run.
After getting to within a run, Reno (66-49) had another four-run outburst in the sixth, this one forcing Knapp out of the game.
Knapp, after giving up a combined three runs in his last three outings, gave up eight runs — six earned — in 5 2/3 innings pitched.
“I thought he threw the ball really well. He didn’t really have a whole lot of help behind him tonight,” catcher Kevin Plawecki said. “We just kind of gave a few outs away but I think given the errors that we did have tonight, I thought that he battled really well and threw the ball well and made the most out of his inning and the game that was kind of handed to him.
Though Plawecki said he thought Knapp’s slider was the best he had seen all year and his fastball command was great, Knapp suffered his third loss this season to Reno, who had also scored eight runs against him in a game earlier this season.
The 51s committed two more errors in the game, one on a throw from Smith and another one on a Reynolds’ throw.
“I thought that we’ve been playing well defensively for a good two and half months,” Lopez said. “Games like this tonight happen. There’s nothing you can do. It’s not a lack of effort by no means. We made a couple mistakes. … We’ve just got to turn the page and be ready to go tomorrow.”
Who: Reno Aces at Las Vegas 51s
When: 7:05 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Cashman Field
Starters: Jake Buchanan (5-2, 4.96 ERA) vs. Mitch Atkins (3-5, 7.50 ERA)
Wednesday: Reno at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Thursday: Reno at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: Las Vegas at El Paso, 6:05 p.m. PT
Saturday: Las Vegas at El Paso, 6:05 p.m. PT
Sunday: Las Vegas at El Paso, 5:05 p.m. PT
For more coverage of the 51s, go to ReviewJournal.com/51s
Contact Betsy Helfand at email@example.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.