After going against first-place teams and a second-place team in its past six series, New Orleans found last-place Salt Lake more to its liking on Thursday at Zephyr Field.
The Zephyrs ruined Bees starter Rick Tropeano’s 25th birthday, scoring three runs in the sixth inning in winning the series opener.
“Victory is always beautiful, especially the way we’ve been struggling,” said catcher Jhonatan Solano, who’s two-run single capped the winning rally. “We hadn’t been getting a lot of hits in those situations. In that at-bat, I just said, ‘God, help me put the ball in play. Thank God I got the hit.”
The Z’s (53-80) got their second win in four games after a 15-game losing streak. Salt Lake (53-80), which is in the Pacific Southern Division cellar, had won its past two games at American Southern leader Round Rock.
The winning rally began when Zack Cox hit a two-out, opposite-field single to left field off Tropeano (3-6). Vinny Rottino walked, and Isaac Galloway doubled down the left-field line, scoring Cox and tying the score at 1. Solano then laced a single to left, scoring Rottino and Galloway.
Salt Lake took a 1-0 lead when shortstop Taylor Featherston led off the game against Jake Esch (1-1) with a triple and scored on left fielder Collin Cowgill’s groundout to second base.
The Bees came to 3-2 in the eighth when Featherton hit a one-out double and scored on pinch-hitter Roger Kieschnick’s two-out bloop single to right.
Zephyrs left-fielder Reid Brignac’s 19-game hitting streak came to an end, as he went 0-for-4.
Off to a good start
When the Marlins obtained promising catcher Tomas Telis in the trade with the Texas Rangers, they also got left-handed pitcher Cody Ege.
To get them, Miami had to give up a solid pitcher Sam Dyson. Thus far, Telis – who was with Round Rock, the Rangers and Marlins this season – has shown he can be a good one in time, an offensive catcher who also handles pitching staffs well.
Ege seems to be showing that he also was a good get in the 2-for-1 swap. Since making his Triple-A debut, he has had four consecutive scoreless outings as a reliever, getting eight strikeouts in 6.0 innings.
“Ege is a situational left-hander who also shows the ability to get right-handers out, and that was attractive to us,” said Brian Cattin, the Marlins’ director of player development. “His performance this year is well above average.”
Ege is a combined 6-2 with a 0.91 ERA with four teams this season. He progressed from High A High Desert (nine games) to Double-A Frisco (26 games) before the trade, then spent five games with Double-A Jacksonville after the trade before coming to the Z’s.
Like Telis, a switching-hitting catcher, Cattin said they saw something they didn’t have in Ege.
“Something we have not had this year is that second left-hander,” Cattin said. “The scouts who have seen him are very high on him as being a guy who changes arm slots. He’s tough on left-handed hitters. He might be a guy who will have that role down the road.”
In a game Monday night at Round Rock, Salt Lake right fielder Alfredo Marte hit what would have been a tying three-run homer in the eighth inning against the Express.
However, Marte passed the runner on first base, causing an out and making it a two-run homer. The Bees lost 3-2.
In Thursday night’s opener against the Z’s, Marte was on first base with one out. Second baseman Alex Yarbrough, who batted behind Marte, hit a foul ball on which Zephyrs first baseman Kila Ka’aihue made a nifty play, catching it at the dugout rail.
Inexplicably, Marte had taken off for second base. Z’s pitcher Jake Esch went over and covered first base, and Ka’aihue flipped the ball to him for the inning-ending double play.
Former LSU outfielder Jared Mitchell and pitcher Ryan Verdugo are with the Bees. Mitchell began the season with Triple-A Charlotte (13 games) of the International League and signed with Salt Lake on May 16. He is hitting .226 in 20 games. Verdugo is 4-5 with a 4.32 ERA. … Ka’aihue, who had a season’s-best 4-for-5 performance on Wednesday, began Thursday with a walk and a single in his first two at-bats.