The Albuquerque Isotopes did not save their finest performance for the regular-season finale at home Sunday night.
El Paso rolled to a 9-4 victory over Albuquerque to take three of five in the series, which puts the Isotopes’ playoff chances back on life support.
The Chihuahuas (71-64) are back up by 5.5 games on the Isotopes (65-69). El Paso goes home for four games against Las Vegas, while Albuquerque is on the road for five games in four days at Salt Lake. The two teams then play each other for the final four games of the season on the Chihuahuas’ home field.
“Frustrating, no? Not frustrating, sour,” manager Glenallen Hill said when asked to describe how the loss felt. “That’s what happens when you play good teams. Good teams throw punches when punches are thrown at them.”
In each of the three losses at Isotopes Park, the home team simply did not play very well. The bullpen will get the lion’s share of the blame for Sunday’s loss, though starter Kyle Freeland (5-3) allowed four runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out three in six innings.
“I thought he pitched well,” Hill said. “I thought he made a couple of mistakes, a couple of pitches he’d like to have back. Overall, he pitched competitive, he pitched well enough to keep us in the game.”
Freeland did allow a lot of hard hits, though, which he had not been allowing in his last few starts. Nick Torres blasted two long solo home runs off Freeland.
Of course, the Isotopes did not offer up much in the way of run support for Freeland, who left with his team down 4-2. Part of that was due to the home team’s struggles, part of it had to do with Chihuahuas starter Walker Lockett (1-1).
“It was a combination of both,” Hill said. “They seemed to chase a lot of his changeups. I don’t know if he had a good changeup or if we just had poor at-bats off this guy. I would have liked to have seen us be a little more patient, especially since he was showing us that he was going to throw a lot of offspeed pitches. You want to force him to throw a lot of offspeed pitches in the strike zone. (Instead) we chased a lot of pitches outside the strike zone.”
After the Chihuahuas got a run off Gonzalez Germen in the eighth to make it 5-2, Albuquerque rallied for two runs in the bottom of the frame. With runners on second and third and no outs, Tom Murphy delivered an RBI single to center. Mike Tauchman hit into a force play at second, but Jordan Patterson was still able to score and bring his team within a run.
The Isotopes would get no closer, though, as Rafael Ynoa struck out and Joey Wong grounded out to second.
El Paso then jumped all over rehabbing Rockies reliever Justin Miller in the ninth. Diego Goris doubled and went to third on Nick Noonan’s sacrifice bunt. Jose Rondon followed with an RBI single to make it 6-4.
Pinch hitter Hector Sanchez flew out to center, but catcher’s interference was called on Murphy and suddenly it was first and second with one out. Manuel Margot followed with a two-run triple and Carlos Asuaje added an RBI double to put the game out of reach.
Overall, it was a tough way to end the season at home, though Hill and his players are not about to give up, no matter the odds.
“We still have a pulse,” Hill said. “I’m looking forward to getting to Salt Lake and getting after it. I know the players are looking forward to that, too. Hopefully we have a huge task in front of us still waiting on us by the time we get to El Paso.”
The Isotopes begin their series at Salt Lake on Monday at 7:05 p.m.
Around the Lab
- The Isotopes did announce their season-ending player awards on Sunday. Infielder Chris Nelson was named Fan Favorite. Infielder Tim Smalling earned Most Community-Minded Player. Tauchman was the Defensive Player of the Year. Two players now up with the Rockies picked up awards as Stephen Cardullo was named Mr. Hustle by his teammates and Jeff Hoffman was tabbed Pitcher of the Year. Murphy earned Power Hitter of the Year. Patterson, the team’s most consistent hitter, was named Most Valuable Player.
- Also, infielder Alex Castellanos is day-to-day with a bruised right elbow, Hill said, after he was hit by a pitch on Saturday. There was no fracture and he will not go on the disabled list.