The 51s started to put some pressure on Reno in the ninth inning Sunday.
But by that point, they were down seven runs and the deficit was too great to overcome as they lost 8-4 to the Aces in the series finale at Greater Nevada Field.
“I know in these one-run games that we won, you can see how the intensity and focus is a lot more from pitch-to-pitch and then when we get down early, it seems like they just go through the individual at-bat and just try to salvage their day,” manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “We’ve got to have more of a team concept for the whole nine innings.”
Christian Colon’s pinch-hit, bases-clearing double in the ninth inning plated three runs and made the final score closer. But before that, the 51s (24-34) had scored just one run in the game. It came in the fifth inning on a Matt den Dekker RBI single.
They finished the day hitting 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, leaving eight runners on.
“I think that’s been our whole MO a lot of this season so far. We just haven’t been able to drive in runs,” DeFrancesco said. “It’s very difficult. A lot of guys try to handle that and only the special ones can drive them in. Some of the guys try to do too much or they open up the zone too much also.”
Three different double plays — one in the fifth, one in the seventh and one in the eighth — stunted some of the 51s’ offensive chances.
The Aces, meanwhile, had jumped out to an early lead against 51s starter Drew Gagnon, scoring twice in the first inning on a Kevin Cron blast. It was Cron’s sixth of the season but his third in the five-game series against Las Vegas.
Reno (25-33) added three more runs in the second, scoring on a Yasmany Tomas triple, a Kristopher Negron single and an Ildemaro Vargas double.
“He just got in deep counts and then he just couldn’t execute a pitch when he needed to,” DeFrancesco said.
But from there, Gagnon settled in, throwing six innings total and not allowing another run in his start.
“After that, that’s how he pitched the last outing when he went six innings but he’s just got to be more consistent,” DeFrancesco said. “Right now, every mistake is a home run. He’s really got to work on keeping the ball in the park and start sinking his fastball and keeping his breaking ball (in the) bottom part of the zone.”
Anthony Swarzak, making what is expected to be his last rehab outing with the 51s, followed him into the game and gave up three runs on two hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning, helping push the game out of reach for Las Vegas.
The loss sent the 51s to 10 games under .500 as they head into a league-wide off day.