New Orleans broke open a close game with a three-run fifth inning, highlighted by Austin Nola’s two-run double to right field on Friday night at Zephyr Field.
“Pitching-wise, we kind of gutted it out,” manager Andy Haines said. “And, it’s nice to score runs late. This game was closer than it may have seemed.”
The Zs (54-80) took a 2-0 lead in the series in winning back-to-back games for the first time since July 29-30 at home against Colorado Springs. New Orleans last won a series July 24-27 at Nashville.
New Orleans banged out 15 hits for the second time in three games, having gotten 16 against Las Vegas on Wednesday.
The Z’s took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on the strength of four singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly against Bees left-hander Tyler DeLoach.
Salt Lake (53-81) cut it to 3-2 in the fourth. Efren Navarro singled, then Jett Bandy hit a one-out double and scored on Angel Rosa’s sacrifice fly.
Solanos a hit
The Solano brothers, Jhonatan and Donovan, have been on a bit of a tear of late.
Donovan, a 26-year-old infielder, has hit .285 this season in 32 games with the Zephyrs after spending much of the season with the Marlins. However, he has gotten a hit in six consecutive games and 11 of his past 13.
Jhonatan, a 28-year-old cather, has batted .232 in 49 games, but he also has done well of late. He has gone 16-for-52 (.308) in August, and went 2-for-3 with the winning two-run single Thursday. That marked his sixth multi-hit game this month; he has 12 for the season. And, he has driven in five of his 20 RBIs this month.
This season marks a double as teammates for the Solanos. Donovan started the season with the Marlins and came to the Z’s on June 30. Jhonatan was with Miami from June 18-25.
“I like it better when we are on different teams,” Donovan said, chuckling. “I liked it when I was with the Marlins and he was with Washington (2013). I like beating him.”
That began when they were children in Barranquilla, Columbia.
However, they have the reputation for working well in tandem. During the Zephyrs series against Oklahoma City (Aug. 11-14), Dodgers players were discussing switching the catcher’s signals whenever one of the brothers were on base and the other was at bat.
Donovan said it was baseless.
“We don’t have time for that,” he said. “We’re too busy playing the game.”
Long scouting trip
Takashi Miyata and Jose Ortiz are spending the series scouting players from the Zephyrs and Salt Lake for the Seibu Lions of the Japanese Baseball League.
They are looking to sign players for next season and said they have seen every team play this season in Triple-A’s Pacific Coast League and International League.
“We look for players with experience, around 30 years old, guys who have been going up and down” between the Major Leagues and Triple-A, said Ortiz, who was the 2000 PCL MVP with Sacramento and played nine years in Japan.
“They won’t get big salaries (in the Major Leagues).”
Miyata, the Lions’ director of professional and international scouting, said he is eyeing the Bees more because they have those such players. However, he was keenly interested in two Zephyrs – Friday night’s starter Travis Blackley (32) and first baseman Kila Ka’aihue (31). Blackley played in Japan last season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Ka’aihue played with the Hiroshima Carp in 2013 and ‘14.
Third baseman David Freese of Salt Lake’s parent Los Angeles Angels is on a rehab assignment with the Bees and played in Friday’s game. Z’s starter Travis Blackley struck him out on three pitches in his first at-bat. In Freese’s second at-bat, in the fourth, he grounded to shortstop. He got an infield hit in the fifth and finished 1-for-3.