After three straight losses, Tyler Pill gave the 51s a much-needed quality start, shutting down Tacoma and saving the bullpen Friday night to close out a nine-game homestand.
Pill tossed eight innings and gave up one run as the 51s beat the Rainiers 9-1 at Cashman Field.
The one run — in the sixth — was the first earned run he has given up all season in 37 1/3 innings between Las Vegas and Double-A Binghamton.
His eight-inning outing was the longest by a 51s starter this season and especially important because the team had to throw a bullpen game Thursday with scheduled starter Rafael Montero summoned to New York to pitch for the Mets.
“I know what goes through their head on a bullpen day,” Pill said of the relievers. “They’re like, ‘Oh, hopefully the starter can eat a lot of innings so that we’re safe for the next day or the next day after that,’ so obviously I enjoy doing that for them, and that’s my job.”
He also played the role of stopper as the 51s were at risk of being swept by Tacoma. Early on, he said he thought he was yanking a couple of fastballs. But he said he was able to settle down and get back to his game plan — establishing his pitches for strikes, moving in and out of the strike zone and letting the defense do the job.
“He’s putting the ball in play. He’s forcing their hand, and he’s making them swing at his pitches instead of falling behind in the count and having to lay it in there,” Las Vegas pitching coach Frank Viola said. “Right now, he’s in charge, and it’s showing. I haven’t seen a bad game yet, and he’s getting better and better. This is really great to watch.”
While Pill was handcuffing the Rainiers (17-10), he got plenty of offense, a day after the 51s had one run on four hits.
“We were aggressive, but at the same time, we were passive enough and we were selective enough to let go of some of the pitches, even though they were strikes but they were borderline pitches and there’s nothing we can do with those,” manager Pedro Lopez said.
The 51s (14-15) took a 2-0 lead in the third.
After L.J. Mazzilli and Gavin Cecchini walked, Brandon Nimmo drove in Mazzilli with a single. It was his first hit since he started playing on rehab (hamstring/hand) in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Shortstop Amed Rosario followed with an RBI single.
Las Vegas scored four in the sixth, thanks in large part to Travis Taijeron’s fifth home run of the year, a three-run shot, to take a 6-1 lead
Later in the inning, Xorge Carrillo drove in Desmond Jennings, and an inning later, Mazzilli hit his first home run of the year, another three-run blast, for a 9-1 lead.
“It’s about scaring pitchers out of the strike zone. I was talking to (hitting coach) Jack (Voigt), and I was talking to some of the guys, and we did that tonight. We were swinging early. We were aggressive,” Lopez said.
Who: 51s at Albuquerque Isotopes
When: 6:05 p.m. Saturday
Where: Isotopes Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Starters: Blake Beavan (0-0, 0.00 ERA), 51s, vs. Harrison Musgrave (0-1, 6.75 ERA)
Sunday: Las Vegas at Albuquerque, 12:35 p.m.
Monday: Las Vegas at Albuquerque, 5:35 p.m.
Tuesday: Las Vegas at Albuquerque, 10:05 a.m.
Thursday: Omaha at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.
The New York Mets called up right-hander Rafael Montero to start Friday against Miami. To make room on their roster, they placed catcher Travis d’Arnaud on the disabled list with a bruised right wrist.
Right-handed starter Blake Beavan will make his 51s debut Saturday in place of Wilfredo Boscan, who went on the disabled list Thursday with left knee tendinitis. Las Vegas manager Pedro Lopez said Thursday that Boscan was feeling better and probably would pitch Thursday or Friday.
Contact Betsy Helfand at email@example.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.