The Dodgers might be playing a particularly uninspired brand of baseball lately, but as we wait ten hours for Clayton Kershaw to hopefully help them take the series on Sunday night baseball, it’s worth nothing what’s going on down in the Triple-A playoffs right now. Down 2-1 in a best-of-five series against Omaha, the Isotopes were down 10-3 in the seventh inning, and, well…
Pal Christopher Jackson, Albuquerque Baseball Examiner:
The Albuquerque Isotopes were dead and buried, their season over.
They trailed 10-3 after Jason Bourgeois cranked out a leadoff home run in the seventh inning.
Then, like they have so many times before — but in perhaps even more spectacular fashion — the Isotopes roared to life and left the Omaha Storm Chasers obliterated in their wake Saturday night.
Albuquerque exploded for nine runs in the seventh inning and defeated Omaha 12-10 to force a decisive Game 5.
“I’ve been in a lot of playoff games and this comeback here is the greatest comeback I’ve been a part of,” manager Lorenzo Bundy said. “Especially in an elimination game.”
Trailing 10-3 in the bottom of the seventh, with the season all but over, the Isotopes began their biggest comeback of the year when Elian Herrera laced a leadoff triple to right, Dee Gordon reached on a misplayed ball by third baseman Anthony Seratelli and Josh Fields knocked a single to left, bringing home the first run of the inning to cut the lead 10-4. Jerry Sands followed with a double that bounced into right field, sending Gordon and Fields scampering home to narrow the deficit 10-6. The Isotopes weren’t nearly finished, however, as Scott Van Slyke followed with a two-bagger of his own, plating Sands to draw within 10-7.
Following the first Storm Chaser pitching change of the inning, Trent Oeltjen wasted no time welcoming the reliever to the action, lining a base hit to left that put runners on the corners with no outs. Angle then gave the ‘Topes another run on a line drive that was scorched right at Jason Bourgeois, and as the right fielder attempted to cut down Van Slyke at the plate, the Isotopes runner was able to dance around the tag and touch home, making the score 10-8. Josh Bard then kept the bats alive with a single to left, and with two runners on, Tony Gwynn Jr. blasted a three-run homer that sailed into the berm, completing comeback and giving Albuquerque an 11-10 lead. As the series has shown, a one-run edge would likely not be enough through the final two frames, so Herrera answered the call by giving the ‘Topes a valuable insurance run when he smoked a triple off the right-field wall and came home two batters later on a sac-fly from Fields to pad the advantage 12-10. With his pair of triples in the seventh, Herrera became the first player in franchise history to collect two three-baggers in one inning.
The fun thing about Triple-A playoffs, what with the designated hitter and rosters somewhat depleted by big-league callups, is that despite the 12-10 final score, only 12 players appeared in the game for Albuquerque – the nine men in the starting lineup and three pitchers who each went three innings apiece. (MLB managers in September, meanwhile, get through that many guys in about the first four innings.)
The final ABQ reliever, Lorenzo Barcelo, who pitched the final three innings for the win, is a complete story unto himself. The game was only his second for Albuquerque after signing out of the Mexican Leagues earlier this month… which were his first games in affiliated baseball since pitching in 20 games for Fresno back in 2003. The 35-year-old Barcelo has been around for so long that he was actually part of the infamous “White Flag Trade” between the Giants & White Sox back in 1997, which included names from the past like Danny Darwin, Wilson Alvarez, Roberto Hernandez, & Keith Foulke. (Darwin, by the way, made his professional debut in 1976, which should tell you something about Barcelo.) After retiring in 2003, he sat out for five seasons before getting back into independent and Mexican leagues in 2009.
Albuquerque attempts to extend their season in today’s game 5 behind Will Savage at 1:35pm local time.