Albuquerque Isotopes left-hander Ryan Carpenter was named to the All-Pacific Coast League Team on Monday afternoon.
He showed why Monday night.
Carpenter overcame a shaky first inning and turned in seven solid frames, striking out 10 as the Isotopes rolled to a 6-2 win over the visiting Reno Aces.
“I wasn’t really making the best pitches the first inning, I didn’t feel my curveball that well,” Carpenter said. “I had just a bit of bad luck with the shifts, but that’s going to happen. I thought as the game went on my stuff started coming around. My slider was really effective, which helped a lot.”
Carpenter gave up two runs on four hits in the first inning. It could have been worse if not for a great leaping catch against the wall by left fielder Noel Cuevas that likely robbed Kristopher Negron of a home run.
“It was huge,” Carpenter said of the catch. “Off the bat it was one of those where you didn’t know if it was going out or not. He made an awesome catch that ended up being huge for us.”
Manager Glenallen Hill was impressed by Carpenter’s composure in the face of adversity.
“He didn’t let the game control him, he controlled the game even though he gave up two runs in the first,” Hill said. “He settled down nicely and took control.”
After the first inning, Carpenter stranded five runners in the second through fourth innings. He set down the Aces in order in the fifth and sixth. Ildemaro Vargas singled to lead off the seventh before Carpenter came back and retired the next three, two by strikeout, to finish his outing at 107 pitches, 74 for strikes.
“I try to get our team as late in the game as possible,” Carpenter said. “Sometimes a lot of pitches come along with that. I just want to battle to the end.”
Every time Carpenter ran into trouble he fought his way out of the jam. With two on in the third, he struck out Zach Borenstein and got John Ryan Murphy to fly out to center fielder Mike Tauchman. With two on in the fourth, he got back-to-back flyouts to Tauchman, throwing just five pitches in the entire inning.
“He’s got a lot of confidence in what he’s doing,” Hill said. “He’s worked through not feeling good. Today, I’m going to guess he felt pretty good because his fastball was harder than it’s been all year.”
The Isotopes’ scoreboard radar gun is usually two miles per hour slow.
“I saw a couple 92s on the board,” Hill added. “I’m just saying, if Carp is throwing 94, man, wow. But I did notice that he had a live fastball today. He’s been battle tested.”
The Isotopes (64-70) gave Carpenter all the support he would need in the second, batting around and racking up four runs on six hits. RBI singles by Daniel Castro, Tauchman, Cristhian Adames and Ryan McMahon did the damage.
“The team seems to rally around Carp,” Hill said.
Cuevas led off the fifth with a triple, tying him for the team lead with 12, and scored two batters later on Tom Murphy’s single through the left side. Tauchman drove in Gibson with an RBI single in the eighth. Zac Rosscup and Carlos Estevez pitched a scoreless inning apiece to finish the game.
Tauchman, who was also named to the All-PCL Team, went 3-for-4 with a walk, run scored and two RBI.
“Tauchman has done what he’s needed to do from the first day of spring training,” Hill said. “Hopefully he’ll continue to do that until the last game is played.”
Even with the win, the Isotopes’ elimination number was reduced to three as the first-place Salt Lake Bees beat Tacoma 3-2.
Albuquerque and Reno will continue the series Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Jeff Hoffman (3-3, 4.89 ERA) will try to bounce back from his disastrous last outing against struggling Aces right-hander Matt Koch (1-2, 10.06).