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Last Updated: 15 June 2014
Hits: 1100

Home vs. New Orleans, 6:05 p.m.

Radio: 610 AM

Probable starters: Isotopes RHP Sam Demel (1-2, 6.97 ERA) vs. Zephyrs RHP Anthony DeSciafani (1-1. 3.38).

Promotion: Father’s Day pre-game catch; cape to first 3,000 fans 13 and younger; postgame fireworks.

Saturday: Kyle Jensen belted two of New Orleans’ four home runs as the Zephyrs rolled to an 8-1 win over Albuquerque in front of 12,090 fans at Isotopes Park.

Jensen and Justin Bour both left the yard during a six-run third inning that effectively decided the outcome. Isotopes starter Zach Lee (5-7) allowed seven hits in five innings, but six of the hits came in the third inning.

Joc Pederson lined a home run (17) to left-center to account for Albuquerque’s scoring. Otherwise the ‘Topes went quietly, managing six hits and striking out 10 times.

This and that: The Los Angeles Dodgers recalled IF Carlos Triunfel on Saturday and placed IF Chone Figgins (quad strain) on the disabled list. No corresponding move was immediately announced.

topes box june 14

Last Updated: 04 June 2014
Hits: 1184
The Isotopes’ Joc Pederson, left, slides into third on a two-run triple Tuesday against Salt Lake. Pederson said he’s looking forward to today’s off day to go to a shooting range. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

The Isotopes’ Joc Pederson, left, slides into third on a two-run triple Tuesday against Salt Lake. Pederson said he’s looking forward to today’s off day to go to a shooting range. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

In baseball, they call them getaway days.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Albuquerque Isotopes finished a four-game home stand against the Salt Lake Bees with a 5-3 victory, and while getaway days usually translate into a clubhouse full of players and staff hurriedly preparing for the next road trip – which almost always starts the next morning – the Isotopes instead were confronted with an incredibly rare vacancy in their schedule.

They have a day and a half to do as they please.

At home.

So getaway day takes on a new meaning as Triple-A baseball players partake in what is for them practically a mini-vacation.

The Isotopes, depending on the player, today will be sleeping, doing laundry, playing golf, riding go-karts, having a date with their significant other – even firing guns.

“It’s rejuvenation. Recovery,” pitcher Red Patterson said. “You get to let loose.”

Tuesday
Isotopes 5
Bees 3

Today is the first scheduled home off day for the Isotopes in the 2014 season, and it comes after a home day game, so much the better. The team won’t have to be back at Isotopes Park until Thursday morning, when they bus to the Sunport before flying to Tacoma for a five-game series.

Between 4 p.m. Tuesday and about 4 a.m. Thursday, Manager Damon Berryhill has carved out for his team a much-needed window for down time.

“I’m gonna try to catch up on my sleep,” third baseman Miguel Rojas said of his plans. Rojas hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning Tuesday, part of a three-run outburst as the Isotopes held off the Bees before a matinee crowd of 4,927.

“It’s been a long season so far,” Rojas said. “This off day is gonna be special.”

It has been a grinding schedule of late for Albuquerque. The Isotopes were in Salt Lake, then home for four, then at Sacramento for four, then back home for this series. Then a short roadie in Washington state.

So this off day is well-timed.

“We love it,” catcher Griff Erickson said. “We all have normal lives away from here, and we have so much stuff to do off the field, like laundry and paying bills. (And) make up for not talking to your parents for a while.”

Outfielders Trayvon Robinson and Joc Pederson are among a small group who were planning to go to Calibers, the shooting range, to let off some steam.

Albuquerque pitcher Zach Lee earned the victory in a 5-3 triumph over visiting Salt Lake on Tuesday afternoon at Isotopes Park. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Albuquerque pitcher Zach Lee earned the victory in a 5-3 triumph over visiting Salt Lake on Tuesday afternoon at Isotopes Park. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Robinson said the Isotopes have had this day in their minds for a while. Robinson even admitted something that might get him in a bit of hot water with Berryhill.

“After five, six innings (Tuesday), we were talking about the off day,” Robinson said with a laugh.

Any off day is treasured, but this kind of break, at home, “is very, very important,” Robinson added. “You want to get out and walk around the mall, or hang out by the pool, and just don’t think about baseball.”

Indeed, that was the theme for all the Isotopes who were interviewed – get the job out of your head completely.

So, for guys like Robinson and Pederson and newcomer Jeremy Hazelbaker, they might get a handgun or rifle in their hands today and take aim.

“I’ve never been before,” Robinson said. “It’s gonna be interesting.”

No laundry?

“She does it,” Robinson said with a chuckle, referring to his wife.

Pederson has been under the weather of late, so this break certainly is welcome.

“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “The travel here is tough, and when you get it, you take advantage of it.”

The Isotopes have two similar “home-game, then off day at home” scenarios in August, including an idle Saturday, Aug. 30, when New Mexico plays its home football opener against UTEP.

“They’re precious,” Hazelbaker said. “You take an off day to get your body in the right place and get your mind in the right place.”

And for many guys, that means taking their lady on a date. Patterson said he planned on spending quality time with his better half.

“I’m gonna spend time with my beautiful wife,” he said. “Some one-on-one time.”

They may even ride some go-karts, Patterson said.

“It’s good we get away,” he said.

Last Updated: 13 June 2014
Hits: 297
Third baseman Miguel Rojas draws a cross in the infield dirt next to the third base line before the start of a game at Isotopes Park in May. It was one of his many rituals. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Third baseman Miguel Rojas draws a cross in the infield dirt next to the third base line before the start of a game at Isotopes Park in May. It was one of his many rituals. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

In baseball, you’re either superstitious or you believe it’s bad luck to be superstitious.

Either way, the game is dominated by quirky routines, bat worshipping, smelly undershirt wearing and off-the-wall eating habits that players, coaches, managers and even front office personnel very much believe impact what happens every night.

And with the calendar showing Friday the 13th, you can bet the odd rituals will be as prevalent as ever tonight when the Albuquerque Isotopes host the New Orleans Zephyrs at 7:05 p.m.

“As coaches, we still do it,” said Isotopes pitching coach Glenn Dishman. “I sit in the same spot (in the dugout) every night. When we go through shaking hands at the end of the game, I make sure I get the starting pitcher and the catcher first before I get to everybody else. That’s how it has to go, each time.”

Sitting in the same spot, going through the same pre-at-bat routine, eating the same pregame meal – during Dishman’s playing days that meant “ham and scrambled eggs with cheese on top, every day” – or even the famous ritual of never stepping on the base line when running on or off the field are among the most common, and relatively tame, of these baseball traditions.

And while pitchers seem to be the leaders in the clubhouse when it comes to superstitions, the player on this year’s Isotopes roster who holds the title – infielder Miguel Rojas – wasn’t even available to talk this week about his plethora of good luck routines because he was called up by the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 6, proving a commitment to the quirky can pay off.

Isotopes pitcher Zach Lee, center, jumps over the infield line onto the grass in a game played at Isotopes Park in May. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Isotopes pitcher Zach Lee, center, jumps over the infield line onto the grass in a game played at Isotopes Park in May. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

The Isotopes grounds crew is well aware of Rojas’ superstitions as they oftentimes resulted in a little extra work for them.

Among Rojas’ superstitions was drawing a cross in the infield dirt next to third base at the beginning of every game, using his cleats to carve a small hole sometimes as deep as 2 to 3 inches in the infield dirt outside of the third base line near the outfield grass and spitting out then swatting a wad of gum in the batter’s box before every at-bat.

“There would be a pile of gum there after every game,” Dishman said, pointing from the Isotopes dugout to a spot of grass near the third base line.

Sometimes, Rojas’ habits needed in-game attention. Such was the case May 8 when third base umpire Scott Mahoney repeatedly followed Rojas between each inning to his spot in foul territory near the outfield grass where he’d dig his hole, walking up behind the 25-year-old Venezuelan prospect to kick dirt in the hole to fill it back up.

Rojas went 1-for-5, with a run scored and one RBI, in that May 8 game against the Sacramento River Cats, a 12-7 victory for the Isotopes.

Some players, meanwhile, don’t want to admit they believe such random rituals, pregame eating habits or even wearing the same good luck underwear days at a time have anything to do with their performance.

“I don’t really get into all that,” Isotopes outfielder Trayvon Robinson said. “Yeah, I’m not superstitious. I like to clean my clothes.”

Of course this is the same player who, along with infielder Carlos Triuenfel, has listened to the same song – “Main Chick” by Kid Ink and Chris Brown – before each game the past couple of weeks because they seem to be hitting better (Robinson’s batting average was .224 on May 31 and was .252 entering Thursday night’s game). Robinson also admitted to wearing special pink Mother’s Day cleats for at least a week because he had a good game on that holiday in 2011.

Being superstitious isn’t limited to players and pitching coaches, either.

In 1998, the Calgary Cannons went on an 11-game winning streak to win their division in the Pacific Coast League. During that streak, the team’s young general manager started growing out a goatee. When the division title came, he was convinced his facial hair, somehow, had something to do with it.

Sixteen years later, John Traub, general manager of the Isotopes since September 2003, still has that goatee and he’s not about to risk shaving it off now.

Hey, it’s only crazy if it doesn’t work.

Last Updated: 03 June 2014
Hits: 284

All that 1-run drama of the last week?

Consider it purged. At least on this night, when the Albuquerque Isotopes’ toasty bats matched the weather.

Repeated close games, and repeated close losses, have been a major strand in Albuquerque’s DNA of late – but not Monday. The Isotopes battered Salt Lake pitching, getting contributions from everyone as they outslugged the Bees 11-8 at Isotopes Park.

Salt Lake led 5-2 before Albuquerque went off with nine runs in the bottom of the fifth.


Isotopes11


Bees8


Major league notes, roundup, box scores


“That’s what we need to do,” manager Damon Berryhill said. “Swing the bats, up and down the lineup.”

For nearly two weeks, Berryhill has made multiple references to his team’s offensive struggles, the lineup’s general inconsistency, the absence of productive at-bats with runners in scoring position, et al.

There was none of that Monday.

Albuquerque scored more runs in the fifth inning than it has scored in any single game since May 19 (15, at Salt Lake).

The Isotopes banged out 16 hits against the Bees – nine in that crowd-pleasing fifth inning.

“That was a great feeling, and the whole team, we really needed it,” third baseman Miguel Rojas said.

When the hottest of all the Isotopes, Rojas – who started the day with five consecutive multi-hit games – lifted a towering, three-run home run down the left-field line to make it 11-5 in the fifth, that meant that every Albuquerque starter had hit safely.

“I know I started the season really slow,” Rojas said, “but I picked it up a little bit lately.”

The Isotopes sent 14 batters to the plate in the fifth.

Joc Pederson delivered the first crucial blow, when he smoked a 2-0 fastball from starter Brooks Raley (0-3) into right-center, scoring Jeremy Hazelbaker and Rojas. Pederson had seen 10 straight balls in the game, and Raley had thrown six straight balls before that pitch, including four straight to Rojas.

“I was just trying to be patient,” Pederson said. “I just stuck to my approach, got a good pitch to hit and tried not to do too much with it.”

Catcher Griff Erickson later in the inning smacked a two-run single, scoring both Robinsons, Clint and Trayvon, as Albuquerque took a 7-5 edge.

“Everyone is starting to find their stroke,” Erickson said. “We’re all starting to settle down a little bit, and see the ball better.”

Only once before this season had Albuquerque scored more runs at Isotopes Park than Monday. The ‘Topes had a dozen May 8 versus Sacramento.

The Bees (21-38) entered Monday with the worst ERA (5.91) in the Pacific Coast League.

But the real statistical oddity to come out of this slugfest was that Albuquerque starter Jeff Bennett (2-1), making his first home start of the year, earned the victory while giving up 14 hits. His pre-game ERA of 1.45 swelled to 3.65.

Relievers Steve Smith and Paco Rodriguez combined to surrender only two hits over the final three innings.

The Isotopes conclude the brief homestand at noon today, and after being off Wednesday, they head to Tacoma for a five-game set beginning Thursday night. The opener will be televised by CBS Sports Network.

Monday

Inside

Last Updated: 10 June 2014
Hits: 275

Baseball is a simple game.

Which makes it sometimes perplexing how grown men paid to play the game can sometimes make it so complicated.

That’s what Trayvon Robinson, the 26-year-old left fielder for the Albuquerque Isotopes, says he got caught up in doing much of the season, leading to a dismal start at the plate.

“I was doing all this thinking,” said Robinson, whose batting average has risen some 21 points in the past 10 games. “A lot of people had all this advice, and I realized I was doing everything but keeping it simple and realizing there’s this guy who has this white ball I’m just trying to hit it. Everything else changes, but the ball don’t change.”

Express2 Isotopes0 

Robinson’s keep-it-simple approach has led to his hitting safely in 11 of his past 12 starts, including going 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in Monday night’s 2-0 loss to the Round Rock Express in front of 7,378 in Isotopes Park.

Manager Damon Berryhill said Robinson hasn’t been chasing as many bad pitches as he did early in the season.

“We knew he was capable of doing it,” Berryhill said. “… You struggle and you start thinking too much about what you’re doing wrong – what’s my swing path? What’s this, what’s that?”

Recent work with hitting coach Franklin Stubbs in the batting cage, as well as a relaxed approach at the plate, seems to be paying off.

Entering the Isotopes four-game series against Salt Lake on May 31, Robinson was hitting .224. He enters tonight’s second game in a four-game series with Round Rock hitting .245 after going 13-for-39 (.333 average) in the past 10 games, and 10-for-25 (.400) in his last six games.

“I wasn’t comfortable,” the switch-hitting Robinson recalled of his approach at the plate just a couple weeks ago. “I worried about where my hands were, where my feet are positioned. All that’s important too, but sometimes it’s as simple as not thinking about all that and just looking for the best pitches to hit.”

In last week’s series win at Tacoma Robinson had eight hits in four games, including three doubles and a home run.

His double on Monday gives him 14 for the season. His career high was 29 in 2009 when he split time between high-A and Double-A affiliations.

“I’ve been focusing on hitting as many doubles as possible this season,” Robinson said. “I’m not necessarily trying to hit it over the fence, just find a good pitch and drive it in the gap.”

Robinson, who played 90 major league games with the Seattle Mariners split over the 2011 and 2012 seasons, said he feels much more relaxed in recent weeks.

“I’m just trying to make sure it’s fun again,” he said. “Have a good time. Most of the stuff that goes on in baseball, I can’t control all that, but I can try and have fun doing it.”

TOSSED: Berryhill was ejected in the third inning when he argued with third base umpire Spencer Flynn about a third out called on a sliding Joc Pederson at third base.

“I asked him where the tag was,” Berryhill said. “He said he was on his back. I said if it was on his back, where were (Pederson’s) feet?”

Pederson slid feet first and appeared to have his cleats on the bag before Express third baseman Brent Lillibridge applied a tag.

Last Updated: 03 June 2014
Hits: 1110

Tuesday, Home vs. Salt Lake, 12:05 p.m.

Radio: 1050 AM

Probable starters: Bees RHP Anthony Lerew (0-1, 8.10)vs. Isotopes RHP Zach Lee (4-5, 4.73)

Monday: The Isotopes banged out 16 hits in their come-from-behind 11-5 victory over Salt Lake .

Every Albuquerque starter had a hit, and eight of the nine starters hit safely during a nine-run explosion in the fifth inning. Joc Pederson had a two-RBI triple, Griff Erickson a two-run single and Miguel Rojas lifted a three-run home run to left, all during that fifth inning.

Jeremy Hazelbaker and Erickson each had three hits for the Isotopes.

Notes: Salt Lake has been without manager Keith Johnson for this series, although no reason was given by the club. Parent club roving coach Ty Boykin has been filling in here in Albuquerque. … Today will be the final meeting of the season between the teams. The Isotopes lead the series 8-7.ISOTOPES 11, BEES 8

SALT LAKE ALBUQUERQUE

ab r h bi ab r h bi

O’Malley SS 4 2 2 1 Hzelbaker RF 5 2 3 0

Field 2B 5 1 2 0 Rojas 3B 4 3 1 3

Jimenez 3B 5 2 3 3 Pederson DH 3 1 2 2

Navarro 1B 5 2 3 1 CRobinson 1B 4 1 2 2

Boesch CF 5 0 4 3 Liddi LF 5 1 1 0

Lopez RF 5 0 0 0 TRobinson CF 5 1 1 0

Borenstein LF 5 1 1 0 Erickson C 4 1 3 3

Martinez DH 3 0 1 0 Ibarra 2B 5 1 2 0

Hester C 4 0 0 0 Triunfel SS 4 0 1 0Totals 41 8 16 8 Totals 39 11 16 10

Salt Lake 300 200 201 – 8

Albuquerque 100 190 00x – 11E – O’Malley (4), Robinson, C (4). DP – Salt Lake 1, Albuquerque 2. LOB – Albuquerque 9, Salt Lake 8. 2B – Field (4), Jimenez (12), O’Malley (9), Navarro 2 (13), Liddi (4), Erickson (7), Robinson, T (10). 3B – Boesch (4), Pederson (2). HR – Rojas (3). SB – Hazelbaker (2). IP H R ER BB SO

Salt Lake

Raley (L, 0-3) 4 1/3 10 8 8 3 2

Johnson 2/3 4 3 3 1 0

Newby 2 2 0 0 0 1

De La Rosa 1 0 0 0 1 1

Albuquerque

Bennett (W, 2-1) 6 14 7 7 2 3

Smith 2 0 0 0 0 1

Rodriguez 1 2 1 1 0 1T – 3:01. A – 4,756.

Last Updated: 09 June 2014
Hits: 1134

Monday, Isotopes vs. Round Rock, 7:05 p.m.

Isotopes Park

Radio: KNML-AM (610)

Probable starters: Isotopes RHP Zach Lee (5-5, 4.71) vs. Express RHP Phil Irwin (0-1, 10.38)

Promotion: Speed Dating Night

Sunday: Trayvon Robinson scored twice and drove in another to give the Isotopes a 3-2 win at Tacoma and their second straight series win. In the series, Robinson was 6-for-17 with four runs scored, two RBI, one home run, two doubles and one walk.

Transaction: IF Erisbel Arruebarrena joined Albuquerque on Sunday. Arruebarrena appeared in six games for the Dodgers after the club selected his contract on May 21, batting .308 (4-for-13) with a double and one RBI.

topes box june 8