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Isotopes strike early and often to beat Rainiers

Bats come alive to back up a shaky pitching performance

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Scottsdale Scorpions at Salt River Rafters
Noel Cuevas fell a triple shy of the cycle as the Isotopes routed the Rainiers.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Albuquerque Isotopes have had their issues scoring runs this season.

Since taking four of five from Salt Lake to open the year, Albuquerque had scored more than four runs in a game just twice. Then came Monday night, when the Isotopes’ lineup erupted for a 12-8 victory over the visiting Tacoma Rainiers.

“You know, this is the (Pacific Coast League), right?” manager Glenallen Hill said. “So we’re going to have games like that in this league.”

Once again, it was a matter of throwing the first punch. The Isotopes (9-10) scored five times in the first inning.

Raimel Tapia led off with a double, Derrik Gibson singled him home and, two batters later, Noel Cuevas belted a two-run homer to left. Rafael Ynoa added an RBI single and Ryan Hanigan had a sacrifice fly to cap the initial outburst.

Tapia’s two-run single highlighted a three-run third. Hanigan scored on a double-play grounder in the fifth.

Ynoa had another RBI single and Hanigan another sac-fly in the sixth. Jordan Patterson capped the onslaught with a solo home run in the seventh.

“It’s good to see Jordan Patterson grind out some at-bats,” Hill said. “I think if he talked to him, he’d tell you the same thing, just grinding them out. That’s part of what hitters go through.”

Cuevas finished 3-for-5, falling a triple shy of the cycle. Ynoa was also 3-for-5. Tapia went 3-for-6. Chris Denorfia was 2-for-3 and walked twice. Hanigan had a single, a walk, two sac flies and was hit by a pitch.

Veteran Domonic Brown joined the roster from extended spring training Monday. He started as the designated hitter and went 1-for-4 with two runs and a walk.

“Domonic Brown had some good at-bats,” Hill said. “He’s been playing in extended. He’s ready to go.”

Albuquerque needed all the runs, as Harrison Musgrave was not terribly sharp on the mound. The lefty only gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks, but he only tossed 4 1/3 innings as it took him 92 pitches to just get that far.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the second (straight) outing that Musgrave was not able to get out of the fifth,” Hill said. “That’s definitely something that we’re going to have to take a look at.”

Musgrave threw 55 pitches in the first two innings.

“I think if it was more midseason, I think we’d be more OK with him getting to the 90- to 95-pitch mark in the fifth, or giving him some leeway to get through that,” Hill said.

Out of the parade of relievers, C.C. Lee (1-0) was the most effective, allowing just one run on two hits and no walks while striking out four across two innings.

Rehabbing Rockies reliever Chad Qualls needed 23 pitches to get just two outs in the sixth inning. He gave up three hits, a run and a walk.

The Isotopes will wrap up their series with the Rainiers (10-8) today at 11:05 a.m. before taking Wednesday off. A to-be-announced pitcher will start against Tacoma lefty Dillon Overton (1-0, 8.44).