Triple-Play: Bees Offense Making Nice Strides After Slow Start
SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake’s offense shakes off a slow early season start as pitching continues strong performance for second place Bees.
After opening a nine game homestand by winning two of three games against the visiting Round Rock Express, Salt Lake welcomed the struggling Tacoma Rainiers to town for a six game series.
After dropping the first game in a 13-11 slugfest, Salt Lake won four straight games for the first time since August 13-16 0f 2021. The two teams combined to scored 49 runs in the final two games of the series; a wild 13-12 Bees win that ended with the second walk-off error of the season.
Stacking the Deck
After plating 10+ runs just three times in their first 24 games, the Bees scored in double figures three times in their six game series against the Tacoma Rainiers. The addition to the lineup of former top prospect Jo Adell after his early season difficulties with the Angels led to a decrease in playing time at the big league level.
In his first two games with the Bees Adell 4-9 with a double and a home run while scoring three runs and picking up two RBI.
Adell appears to be taking the demotion in stride as he see’s his time with the Bees as a chance to play every day, “I’m a player. I’m ready to go. I plan to play most games here, there’s no question. So definitely get out there and get after it.”
Salt Lake entered the weekend ninth in the PCL with 20 home runs this season, any power has been welcome. With the weather warming up, Salt Lake’s bats matched the temperatures at the park as Bees hitters combined for 10 long balls in the final three games of the series.
David MacKinnon (5) hit a pair of big fly’s on Friday for his second two-homer game of the season. MacKinnon is batting .407 during the first week of May. His seven RBI, nine runs scored and 11 hits all lead the Bees for the month.
Brendon Davis (5) homered in all three games of the weekend, officially breaking out of his slow start to the season conveniently following receiving his 2021 Angels minor league Player of the Year award prior to the series opener.
Matt Thaiss (3) hit a solo shot on Saturday to go along with a seventh inning grand slam that got Saturday night’s comeback started. Finally Jake Palomaki (1) made his Triple-A debut with Salt Lake on Sunday and finished with an eighth inning home run in a Bees late inning comeback that ultimately came up short.
As a team, Salt Lake is hitting .321 in May with 58 runs scored, each good for second best in the PCL behind Round Rock. The Bees 10 home runs in May are the third most in the league. Salt Lake has outscored their opponents by 43 runs this year, 34 runs better than the Las Vegas Aviators who lead the division.
For the second time this season, 37-year old Cesar Valdez finished a nine-inning complete game when he scattered eight hits while allowing just one run in an 8-1 Bees win on Thursday, May 5.
Valdez previously won PCL Pitcher of the Week honors when he limited Reno to five hits and two runs in his first complete game of 2022 back on April 22.
Valdez is 4-1 this season with a 3.03 earned run average. Averaging nearly a strikeout per inning with 34 punchouts in 35.2 innings pitched, Valdez has been a master of the strike zone while walking fewer batters than games started, 4:5.
Bees pitching coach Jairo Cuevas couldn’t hold back his praise when talking about Valdez, “What Cesar Valdez is able to do on the mound is impressive,” Cuevas said. “Him on the mound as a competitor is incredible. There’s no situation that would get him out of his comfort zone.”
Las Vegas Aviators
Las Vegas sits in first place in the PCL West division with a 17-13 record. Leading the Bees by one game through thirty played, the Aviators will enter the series with Salt Lake on a two game winning streak after taking four of six games from the Sacramento River Cats last week.
The Bees and Aviators split a six game series in Salt Lake during the second week of the 2022 season.
Las Vegas features a pair of top prospects for the Oakland Athletics in catcher Shea Langeliers and middle infielder Nick Allen.
The No. 2 ranked prospect in the A’s system is Langeliers and his big league power has lit up the scoreboard in recent weeks. In his past ten games, Langeliers has five home runs and ten RBI including a two homer performance against Tacoma on April 30. The 2019 1st round pick is slashing .317/.410/.683 in 27 games, leading Vegas in batting average, home runs (11), runs scored (24), and RBI (24).
Allen made his major league debut to end April where he appeared in eight games for Oakland including seven starts between second base and shortstop.
In 16 games with the Aviators, Allen is batting .266 with just two extra base hits and only three Runs batted in. He has been trouble on the base paths as indicated by five stolen bases.
Jhonathan Diaz got called-up to make his third major league start on Friday, May 6. Originally scheduled to start in Salt Lake on Friday, Diaz found out he would instead be taking the major league mound and he rose to the occasion. Diaz gave up three hits while walking four but was able to hold the Washington Nationals scoreless across five innings.
Diaz wasn’t the only Bees pitcher to make an appearance with the parent club this week as reliever Kyle Barraclough threw two shutout innings, allowing a single base hit against the Nationals on Saturday.
Salt Lake opens up a six game series against Las Vegas on Tuesday, May 10. Each game Tuesday-Saturday is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. (MST) with a Sunday matinee set for a 1:05 p.m. (MST) first pitch. All Bees games can be heard on The Zone Sports Network and tickets for the Bees can be purchased at slbees.com.