A sensible question was asked during the course of Friday night's Albuquerque Isotopes game. Is the humidor broken?
"This is a ballpark where you're going to run into spells where if the pitching is not real sharp you're going to have high-scoring games," manager Damon Berryhill said. He would know as he had to send out another five pitchers Friday after using six Thursday.
The Isotopes (45-55) tied the game 10-10 in the seventh inning on a double steal. The River Cats (57-42) came right back with three singles in the eighth, with Alden Carrithers' looper to shallow center driving in the go-ahead run.
Albuquerque shrugged that off in the bottom of the frame. Brock Peterson drew a one-out walk and Jamie Romak smoked a liner into right-center that got past former Isotope Nick Buss and went all the way to the wall for a game-tying RBI triple.
Mike Baxter sliced a single up the middle to drive in Romak and put the Isotopes ahead for good. Walter Ibarra followed with a single and Roger Bernadina then reached on a two-base fielding error by first baseman Anthony Aliotti while Baxter scored an insurance run.
"It was a pretty resilient win after a long one last night," Baxter said. "It was a good win, for sure."
That lead almost failed to hold in the ninth as Aliotti greeted Jose Dominguez with a leadoff single through the left side. Dominguez walked Ryan Ortiz, struck out Buss and then walked Jake Elmore to load the bases.
Shane Peterson, who finished 4-for-6, then hit a little grounder that Dominguez calmly fielded, throwing home for a force out. Dominguez then struck out Daric Barton swinging to end the game and earn his ninth save.
"Jose came in and struggled a bit with command but was able to settle down and get those two key outs," Berryhill said. "That little nubber in front of the plate, most of the time that's a high-anxiety play and most people panic on that, but he was calm and made a nice play."
Joc Pederson started the game off for Albuquerque on a high note with a two-run homer to center in the first inning. Things went downhill from there as Sacramento tied it 2-2 in the second and then scored another six unanswered runs in the third and fourth.
Isotopes starter Stephen Fife was lifted due to injury after just 3.2 innings. He gave up seven runs on eight hits and three walks.
"He just had some right forearm tightness and we didn't want to push it right there," Berryhill said. "So we just decided to remove him from the game. We'll know more (Saturday)."
Albuquerque began to rally with five runs in the fifth, including a two-run double by Clint Robinson. Sacramento came back with two in the sixth to make it 10-7, only to see the Isotopes battle back with one in the bottom of that frame and then two in the seventh.
Baxter went 4-for-5 with two runs. Pederson finished 2-for-4 with three RBI while Peterson and Romak each had two hits and two RBI.
"Offensively I thought we did an outstanding job," Berryhill said. "The fifth inning was really big for us. Guys really rallied in the dugout. There was no quit in them."
Albuquerque and Sacramento will continue their series Saturday at 7:05 p.m. The Isotopes will send right-hander Red Patterson (3-7, 5.15 ERA) to the mound against River Cats lefty Tommy Milone (0-0, 2.25) on Dukes Retro Night.
Around the Lab
Right-handed reliever Pedro Baez rejoined the roster Friday, taking the spot of lefty Paco Rodriguez, who was called up by the Dodgers. ... Another roster move is pending as Los Angeles activated infielder Justin Turner from the disabled list and optioned infielder Carlos Triunfel to Albuquerque.