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Las Vegas 51s begin 11-game trip in Reno

Updated May 31, 2017 - 9:41 pm

Kevin Plawecki isn’t a schedule looker — baseball is baseball, no matter where it’s played.

If he were, though, he would see a month of June during which the 51s are home for just eight days.

The grueling month will start Thursday with an 11-game trip — longer than anything they played last season.

“I just show up to the ballpark if it’s home or if it’s away, I pack my bag,” said Plawecki, the 51s’ catcher. “I really don’t get too caught up in it, (but) it’s definitely tough being on the road for a little over a week.”

The trip is part of a stretch that has the 51s playing 19 of the next 23 games away from Cashman Field.

They went 3-8 in New Orleans and Round Rock, Texas, to begin that span before most recently splitting a series at home against El Paso.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played this many road games. Last year, we didn’t have this many road games, but it’s still the same game,” shortstop Gavin Cecchini said. “You’ve still got to approach it the same way whether it’s at home or away. And you’ve got to make the best out of it.”

The road swing will take the 51s to play Reno, Salt Lake and Tacoma.

Las Vegas hasn’t played either Reno or Salt Lake this season, but the 51s lost three of four games to Tacoma at home at the beginning of May.

Reno (33-20) and Tacoma (31-20) have the best records in the Pacific Coast League, and Salt Lake (28-25) has the best mark in the Pacific Southern.

“It’s not going to be an easy walk in the park,” Las Vegas manager Pedro Lopez said. “I think this is a road trip that’s going to dictate where we’re at as a team, and hopefully it’ll be a good outcome.”

The 51s (21-32) are last in the Pacific Southern and have had a tough time on the road, going 9-16 with a 5.25 ERA and a .263 team batting average. But their struggles haven’t been limited to the road.

“I’ve always said pitching and defense wins you championships, and just unfortunately we haven’t been able to do that consistently,” Lopez said. “I know the hitting comes in, at times not hitting when men in scoring position. (Of) late, I think we’ve done a good job with that, but once again, it’s a team effort. We need 25 guys to go out there and perform, and we need to play fundamentally sound.”

After a 9-20 May that plummeted them to the bottom of the standings, this trip could take on even greater importance. A good trip would put the 51s back in contention for the Pacific South title, especially if they have favorable results against Salt Lake, a team they trail by seven games in the standings.

“I think this road trip could be the one that’s either going to put us down below at the bottom of the tank or it’s going to put us where we can contend for a playoff spot. I think it’s time,” Lopez said. “Guys are swinging the bats well. Hopefully with this day off, everybody can recharge their batteries and be ready to go on Thursday.”

More 51s: Follow all of our Las Vegas 51s coverage online at reviewjournal.com/51s and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

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