Offense, bullpen flex muscles in Las Vegas 51s 11-5 win

Friday night the 51s jumped ahead early but faltered late. Saturday they did the opposite, falling behind early then roaring back to rout the Iowa Cubs 11-5 at Principal Park.

“The offense came back tonight,” 51s manager Wally Backman said. “That’s the offense we have. We have a great offense, no doubt about it.”

But it wasn’t pretty through the first four innings. Twice in the game, Las Vegas starter Robert Gsellman had an opportunity to get out of trouble with no damage done, and twice he was unable. In both the second and fourth innings, the Cubs put two runners in scoring position and scored both times.

In the second inning, Munenori Kawasaki doubled in both runners before scoring on a single by pitcher Pierce Johnson. In the fourth, it was John Andreoli who knocked in both runs. Iowa led 5-2 after four innings.

Gsellman lasted just four innings and allowed five runs. It was his third Triple-A start and the third time he gave up five earned runs in a game.

Despite his struggles, it didn’t take long for the 51s to bail him out. In the top of the fourth Johnny Monell went deep with a two-run blast to bring the 51s within one, and in the fifth Matt Reynolds singled in Niuman Romero, who was activated from the disabled list Saturday. When Michael Conforto tripled in Romero and Roger Bernadina, it was a brand new ballgame.

One T.J. Rivera single later and the 51s had their first lead of the game. And once they had the lead, they didn’t give it up.

The 51s scored in every inning from the fourth to the eighth, putting the game out of reach when Eric Campbell hit a three-run blast in the eighth inning to extend the lead to six runs.

The bullpen buckled down and made sure that the five runs the Cubs got early were all they were going to get. Zach Walters, Chasen Bradford and Josh Edgin combined to throw five scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out six. Bradford has eight strikeouts in his previous 4 1/3 innings.

“It’s good to see that,” Backman said. “They went out there and did their job. It was nice to see those guys go out there and do what they’re capable of.”

Backman was ejected in the sixth inning arguing a balk call. It was an epic minor league tirade, throwing his cap and covering home plate in dirt before storming off to applause from the opposing fans.

“There were a lot of bad calls tonight,” Backman said, explaining he was upset over previous calls. “It was over the top.”

Justin Emerson can be reached at jemerson@reviewjournal.com. Follow on Twitter:@J15Emerson

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