The rain was coming.
The 51s just needed to score before it did.
And after squandering opportunities in each of the earlier innings, they finally broke through.
Las Vegas pulled ahead in the fifth inning just before the rain hit hard. The 51s went on to win a 2-1 rain-shortened game over Albuquerque on Saturday night at Cashman Field.
Don’t see many rain delays here. With no tarp, the field probably can’t take this for much longer. pic.twitter.com/DxFQcmxA0R
— Betsy Helfand (@betsyhelfand) July 15, 2018
The sky opened up at 9 p.m. and soaked the field. The 51s do not have a full tarp to cover the field and the game ended in the sixth inning.
The 51s (45-48) had many opportunities to score in the earlier innings, but didn’t pull through until the fifth when Kevin Kaczmarski singled to left to drive in Christian Colon.
Starter Chris Flexen walked with the bases loaded after him to give the 51s what would wind up being the game-winning run.
“We’ve been playing pretty good baseball lately. Our offense has been able to put up runs early on as well,” Flexen said. “Guys are pretty hot right now but we were giving ourselves opportunities and we weren’t able to come through early on but … we found a hole in that inning, the fifth. We put two up there. We knew they were coming. We were swinging the bats well. The elements were tough out there and we just didn’t have the ball fall at the right time.”
The 51s finished the night 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 12 on base.
It seemed like they were going to score in the third inning when Colton Plaia hit a ball up the middle that would have driven in at least a run. But Albuquerque (44-48) shortstop Elliot Soto made an incredible play, diving to stop the ball and making a strong throw to peg Plaia out at first base and end the threat.
“Soto made a heck of a play. Before that (Zach) Borenstein got down the line too much and wasn’t able to tag on a line drive,” manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “That would have been the first run and then a great play by them. We did hit some balls hard and they made some good plays on them.”
While the 51s were being held scoreless, Flexen warded off Albuquerque.
The lone run he gave up came in the top of the sixth when Garrett Hampson scored on a Mike Tauchman groundout after he had tripled to lead off the inning.
Flexen also helped himself out at the plate, going 2-for-2 in the win and taking the bases-loaded walk.
“I thought the fastball command was pretty good today,” Flexen said. “We attacked early and often. I was able to throw strikes with the secondary stuff, too, and I was able to fill the zone and get two quick outs.”
The righty, who had beaten Albuquerque already three times this season, tossed six innings and gave up just one two hits, holding the Isotopes in check all night while the 51s were threatening to break through.
“I felt good. We had nine hits, they had one hit at the time. I knew sooner or later we were going to break it open,” DeFrancesco said. “You didn’t want to leave too many opportunities. You never know in this game.”