There were many Albuquerque Isotopes who stood out in their 16-5 demolition of the visiting Reno Aces on Tuesday night. The most impressive, however, might have been the guy on the mound.
“Nights like this you don’t try to figure it out (hitting-wise), you just go with it,” manager Glenallen Hill said. “The story of the night, though, was our spot starter being able to go five innings on (78) pitches.”
Veteran left-hander Aaron Laffey (2-2) made his fourth start of the season his best to date. Laffey allowed two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out seven in five innings.
“I was able to get ahead using my cutter,” Laffey said. “Even when I was behind in the count I’d throw my cutter either hard in or back door it to get me back into the count. A lot of those 3-2 counts, I was able to just execute a good cutter, just drive it toward the middle of the plate and get some good swings and misses or pound it into the ground.”
The only problematic inning for Laffey was the first. He gave up a leadoff walk and a one-out single before former Isotope Jamie Romak smoked a two-run double to left.
“I got in trouble in the first inning in every start,” Laffey said. “Last year I had a really good season as a full-time starter. The majority of my runs last year were given up in the first inning.
“It just typically seems like that was the trend last year. I’d walk a guy, give up a couple hits, a couple runs and then after that I’d pretty much put up zeroes. That was kind of the case tonight. It took me a while to get into that groove that first inning.”
After those early struggles, Laffey retired 10 batters in a row before Albuquerque native Jordan Pacheco hit a two-out double in the fourth. Laffey shrugged that off and struck out Raul Navarro to end the inning.
“Early in the game I was cutting some changeups, two-seamer I was just kind of getting inside of it and it was (ending up) way outside of the zone,” Laffey said. “So just being aggressive with the cutter and getting them to challenge the ball (was key).”
Laffey was needed again when the Colorado Rockies recalled scheduled starter Yohan Flande before the game. Albuquerque (34-45) initially announced Boone Whiting as the starter before switching to Laffey.
“He’s been a starter (before),” Hill said. “It’s just kind of worked out that the more he’s pitched the better he’s gotten.”
Of course, it did not hurt that Laffey got a rather considerable amount of run support from his teammates. The Isotopes scored two in the first, two in the second, four in the third and eight in the fifth to bury the Aces (37-42).
“That was a big pickup there after I gave up two in the first for them to come right back, make it a 2-2 ballgame so you’re starting from zero,” Laffey said. “Then just being able to get into a good rhythm after that.”
Albuquerque had seven doubles by three players. Angelys Nina had three while Cristhian Adames and Matt McBride added two apiece.
McBride went 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBI while Nina finished 4-for-5 with three runs and two RBI. Roger Bernadina was 3-for-5 with three runs, a homer and three RBI.
Albuquerque and Reno will meet again Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Jair Jurrjens (1-1, 3.81 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Isotopes against Aces right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (1-1, 1.76), a former Rockies starter.
Around the Lab: In addition to Flande being called up, Colorado also recalled right-handed reliever Justin Miller. Taking one spot on the roster was shortstop Trevor Story, the Rockies No. 12 prospect who was hitting a robust .281/.373/.523 at Double-A New Britain with 10 home runs, 40 RBI and 15 stolen bases.