Brady Shoemaker grounded into a 5-2-3 game-ending double play in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded, and New Orleans opened its final homestand of the season with its 15th consecutive loss, extending a franchise high.
The Z’s trailed 5-1 entering the inning, but scored three runs on an RBI infield hit by Donovan Solano and double by Reid Brignac that scored Austin Wates and Austin Nola. Tomas Telis was walked intentionally to set up double-play possibilities at all bases. That brought up Shoemaker.
The Pacific Coast League record for consecutive losses is 17 and is 90 years old, set in 1925 by Sacramento.
Las Vegas (71-58) scored five runs in three innings, all with two outs, against right-hander Trevor Williams, who became the fifth Zephyrs pitcher this month to make his Triple-A debut.
The Zephyrs (51-78) were held to three hits through six innings by Las Vegas starter Seth Lugo (2-0). The Z’s scored in the seventh on Juan Diaz’s single and a double by Zack Cox.
Brignac’s double extended his hitting streak to 16 games. The franchise record is 22 games.
When center fielder Marcell Ozuna was called up by the Miami Marlins during the Zephyrs’ recent road trip, he reportedly said “it was like being released from jail.”
However, Zephyrs manager Andy Haines said he didn’t think Ozuna meant anything negative about New Orleans or the way he was treated while with the Zephyrs. Ozuna spent 33 games with the Zephyrs and hit .317.
“I think he was speaking with a lot of emotion about being sent down to Triple-A in general,” Haines said before Sunday’s game.
During Ozuna’s stay, he took a leadership role with the Zephyrs, along with veteran Vinny Rottino. However, Ozuna, who came from the Marlins after a 1-for-36 hitting slump, expected to spend 10 games with the Z’s and get called back up.
The long stay cost him a year of major league service, which affects arbitration and will cost him $3 million next season. He was bitter about it and said he felt betrayed.
When Las Vegas starter Seth Lugo was drafted in 2011 by the New York Mets, it raised some eyebrows, even though he was picked in the 34th round.
In his junior season at Centenary College, Lugo was 3-7 with a 5.57 earned-run average. However, that was a transition season for the school, whose athletic program was going from NCAA Division I to Division III the next year.
“I think we had 25 freshmen and six sophomores; it was a whole new team and a rough season for everybody,” he said. “Most of the guys had left for other Division I programs.”
However, Lugo got a tryout with the Mets, was impressive, and they took a chance. He had lumbar fusion surgery in 2012 and missed the whole season. He battled back and excelled with AA Binghampton this season before being called up to Vegas.
“I used to walk a lot of guys,” he said. “I always thought I had good control, but I had to trust it enough to pitch to hitters. That’s really what has changed.”
Saturday’s late game
Nick Noonan hit a two-out RBI single in the 10th inning to give the River Cats a 2-1 win and sending New Orleans to a franchise-record 14th consecutive loss, in Sacramento.
Zephyrs shortstop Austin Nola was robbed of a home run by left fielder Mac Williamson, who leaped high to make the catch at the wall in the top of the inning.