Ryan Howard crushed a double off the wall in his first game with the Albuquerque Isotopes on Sunday night.
His teammates were also up to the task of crushing the Fresno Grizzlies’ pitching staff en route to a 22-1 demolition derby of a win.
The game saw Albuquerque (59-61) post season highs in runs overall and hits (24) for a nine-inning game, pulling back within a half-game of first-place Salt Lake (60-61), which lost 5-3 at Sacramento. The Isotopes were just 3-11 against the Grizzlies (69-52) this season.
“You know, for some reason we haven’t played well against Fresno and they have a really good team,” manager Glenallen Hill said. “It started off kind of slow (Sunday) and then it picked up momentum. Does it make it feel any better because it’s against them? No.”
At least one of his players disagreed.
“It feels great because they’ve been crushing us bad,” second baseman Rafael Ynoa said. “They got some of their (own) medicine there.”
Howard was not the star of the game, but he did show he was not too rusty in his first action since May. On the first play of the game, Howard fielded Tony Kemp’s grounder with a nice backhand scoop and ran to the bag for the first out.
“He’s got pretty good hands over there at first base,” Hill said.
Howard struck out swinging on three pitches in the second inning before launching his extra-base hit off the 404 sign in right-center. Cristhian Adames then followed with a no-doubt two-run homer to the berm above right field.
“Howard looked good in his at-bats,” Hill said. “I’m not surprised that he was able to move his body as easily as he did tonight.”
Zach Jemiola (5-3) was the beneficiary of all the run support. The right-hander tossed six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out four.
“He’s been working through some things and trying to control what he can control,” Hill said. “You’ve heard that before, but sometimes your appetite can be too big for your stomach. With him, he’s had to be where his feet are, focus on doing the things that create consistency. When he’s able to do that then his ability shows up like it did today.”
Raimel Tapia, Mike Tauchman and Ynoa had four hits apiece for Albuquerque, with Ynoa driving in four runs. Cristhian Adames went 3-for-6 with five RBI, falling a triple shy of the cycle. Tom Murphy was 2-for-5 with three runs, a homer and four RBI. Tony Wolters went 3-for-6 with three runs, two doubles, a homer and three RBI.
Only Howard (1-for-6) and Daniel Castro (1-for-4) failed to record multiple hits for the Isotopes.
“We haven’t been swinging the bats very well for at least a week now, so it’s good to have our hitters have a day like this where they all contribute and feel confident,” Hill said.
Albuquerque will go for the series split Monday at 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Yency Almonte (1-0, 5.82 ERA) starts for the Isotopes against Grizzlies lefty Kent Emanuel (1-1, 6.93).