Las Vegas 51s manager Tony DeFrancesco has gotten a workout this season from walking to the mound often.
DeFrancesco is finally starting get long outings from his pitchers and probably witnessed the best start of the season Monday from Chris Flexen.
Flexen pitched seven shutout innings to lead the 51s past the Albuquerque Isotopes 2-1 in a Pacific Coast League game at Cashman Field.
“That was one of our best starts of the year,” DeFrancesco said of the winning pitcher. “Flexen was in control the whole game. Good offspeed pitches for strikes and commanded the strike zone. He did it under 100 pitches.”
Las Vegas second baseman Phillip Evans clubbed a pair of solo home runs in the fourth and sixth innings to help Flexen improve to 3-3 on the season and hand the 51s (16-23) their fourth victory in the past five games.
It’s no secret that the 51 starters have struggled this season. Las Vegas entered Monday with a team ERA of 6.78, last in the Pacific Coast League.
“We’ve haven’t gotten any production from our starters,” DeFrancesco said. “Luckily, in the last three games, we’ve had a couple starters go seven innings. In the first few weeks of the season, we were getting three innings out of them. Our bullpen was spent.”
Flexen allowed only two hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on 97 pitches. All three of his wins have come against the Isotopes (19-20).
Evans has homered in three of his past five games and now has a team-high nine home runs this season.
Evans has filled in at second base since Gavin Cecchini went down to a foot injury on May 9. DeFrancesco doesn’t expect Cecchini to play Tuesday.
“He’s a little tender,” DeFrancesco said of Cecchini. “He went out there to work (Monday) and somehow on the last ground ball he felt something. … He could pinch hit for us.”
Isotopes starter Brett Oberholtzer had a solid outing besides giving up the pair of homers to Evans but fell to 0-4. He yielded nine hits and one walk while striking out five in seven innings.
Drew Smith recorded his second save for Las Vegas.
DeFrancesco said first baseman Dominic Smith will return to Las Vegas after spending the weekend with the Mets. Smith replaced Jay Bruce, who was on the paternity list.
The manager also added that pitcher Buddy Baumann will stay with the Mets. Baumann was expected to be optioned to Las Vegas.