Since falling a season-worst 14 games under .500 on June 16, when they were 26-40, the 51s have gone 42-31, clawing their way back to .500 (57-57) at one point.
But a 10-4 loss to Fresno on Wednesday at Cashman Field dealt a big blow to their hopes to finish the season at .500 or better.
Starting with today’s home finale, Las Vegas (68-71) needs to go 5-0 the rest of the way to snap a string of eight straight losing seasons by the Toronto Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate. This is the 51s’ first season in Toronto’s farm system after an eight-year affiliation with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After tonight’s game, Las Vegas, 30-37 on the road, heads to Portland for a season-ending four-game series.
“We’d love to finish .500, but we’ve got to win the first one before we win the second one,” 51s manager Mike Basso said. “We’ve got a lot to be proud of. We dug ourselves a hole, and we’ve dug ourselves out of it.”
Right-hander Randy Boone received a rude welcome to the Pacific Coast League on Wednesday in his first Triple-A start, as he was tagged for nine earned runs on nine hits in four innings.
After allowing only four home runs in 129 innings this season at Double-A New Hampshire, where he was 9-8 with a 3.70 ERA, Boone surrendered three in four innings Wednesday, including a grand slam to Grizzlies third baseman David Maroul.
“He’d be the first to tell you he didn’t get the ball down, and he paid the price,” Basso said.
Maroul’s slam was his first Triple-A hit.
Ben Copeland added a solo shot in Fresno’s five-run fourth and Steve Holm also homered for the Grizzlies (71-68), who never trailed.
Las Vegas right fielder Jason Lane launched two solo homers and second baseman Howie Clark also homered for the 51s.
51s third baseman Kevin Howard singled to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.
• NOTES — Round Rock right-hander Bud Norris was named the PCL Pitcher of the Year. He went 4-9 with a 2.63 ERA in 19 starts this season for the Express, walked 53 and struck out 112. Norris also was named the top right-handed pitcher on the All-PCL team, which features Colorado Springs second baseman Eric Young Jr., who was named the PCL Rookie of the Year after batting .299 in 119 games for the Sky Sox. Young leads Triple A with 58 stolen bases and 118 runs. The rest of the All-PCL team comprises first baseman Randy Ruiz (Las Vegas, shortstop Alcides Escobar (Nashville), third baseman Esteban German (Oklahoma City), catcher John Hester (Reno), designated hitter Mitch Jones (Albuquerque), outfielders John Bowker (Fresno), Terry Evans (Salt Lake) and Matt Miller (Colorado Springs), left-handed pitcher Lenny DiNardo (Omaha) and reliever Scott Strickland (Albuquerque).
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal or 702-383-0354.FRESNO — 10
LAS VEGAS — 4
KEY: David Maroul hit a grand slam off 51s starter Randy Boone, who gave up nine earned runs on nine hits, including three homers, in his Triple-A debut.
NEXT: Grizzlies (RHP Kevin Pucetas) at 51s (RHP T.J. Beam), 7:05 p.m. today, KBAD-AM (920)