Backup catcher Griff Erickson knows all about taking advantage of his opportunities these days. He did that, and then some, as the Albuquerque Isotopes rolled to a 10-5 victory over the visiting Las Vegas 51s on Thursday night.
Erickson, making a rare start, went 4-for-4 with five RBI. This was just his eighth game since the July 13-16 Triple-A All-Star break.
"I just kind of went into it like any other game," Erickson said. "The guys in front of me got on base. I just tried to keep my approach and stay loose. I got a few hits here and there."
Erickson had gone 0-for-12 in his first seven games since the break. He also spent some time on the disabled list.
"He's been in a tough spot, he's had some injuries, been on the DL," manager Damon Berryhill said. "But when he's had his opportunities to play, he's had a great year for us. He's come up with a bunch of big hits, he's caught well behind the plate, he's done a nice job calling the ballgame, handling the pitching staff.
"Really, for the opportunities that he's gotten, he's definitely made the most of it. He's proven he can swing the bat a little bit up at this level."
When Tim Federowicz was in the Majors for an injured A.J. Ellis, Erickson played frequently. His 38 starts at catcher rank second only to Federowicz's 66 at the position.
"You've just got to keep working," Erickson said. "You've just got to stay with your routine. As you're go through the years you start to develop a routine, then you start understanding your routine, then you refine your routine, something that works every day. If I changed that, it would be stupid."
Erickson's first RBI single in the second inning brought Albuquerque (60-79) within 3-2. His second RBI single in the fourth cut the lead to 4-3.
It was Joc Pederson's two-run single in the fifth that put the Isotopes ahead 5-4. They would never look back, scoring three more runs that inning, including a two-run single by Erickson.
"It was huge that they got on base," Erickson said. "A lot of times it was hit after hit, and that's when you get those opportunities. You don't get them often."
All of that supported a strong start by veteran Justin Germano (5-14). The right-hander allowed four runs on six hits, did not walk a batter and struck out nine in seven innings.
"Justin did a great job," Berryhill said. "He ended up giving up four, but really settled down after that. He probably could have continued."
Every Albuquerque starter, including Germano, had at least one hit. Pederson was 2-for-3 with two walks, while Mike Baxter went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three runs scored.
Second baseman Alex Guerrero was lifted after the fifth inning. He was 1-for-3 with an RBI double.
"It was just precautionary, just a tight hamstring," Berryhill said. "I think just with the travel and everything I think he's a little bit dehydrated. Just a precautionary removal, didn't want anything to flare up on him."
The Isotopes and 51s (80-61) will meet again Friday at 7 p.m. Lefty Chris Reed (0-3, 12.06 ERA) will start for Albuquerque against Las Vegas right-hander Cory Mazzoni (5-1, 4.70).