Minor league baseball: Despite losing, Salt Lake's Matt Shoemaker continues to pitch well
Salt Lake has been a tad out of step of late in its march to a division title.
So Tuesday, the Bees needed Matt Shoemaker to act as a stopper. Shoemaker had won his last two outings, allowing three earned runs in 14 innings, taking more than 30 points off his ERA.
Shoemaker, who made his league-leading 27th start Tuesday, continued his good work. He allowed nine hits, a walk and two runs in the first four innings, but found his rhythm and retired the last 10 Las Vegas hitters.
It wasn't enough.
After the Bees took the lead in the eighth, Las Vegas came back to hand Salt Lake its fourth loss in five games, winning 6-3 at Spring Mobile Ballpark in showdown of divisional leaders. The 51s scored four times in the ninth.
Shoemaker didn't earn the decision, but he fanned nine to increase his PCL-best strikeout total to 148.
"There always is a little adjustment," said Shoemaker about his strong finish. "You have to keep attacking â¦ staying aggressive and throwing low strikes in the zone.
"The biggest thing, I want to keep it going. Part of it is a mental game as well."
Coming into the game, the Pacific Northern-leading Bees were tied with Oklahoma City for the best record in the PCL.
And for much of the season, the Bees have been among the most potent teams in the PCL, in the top four in runs, homers, on-base percentage and slugging.
Even though Salt Lake hasn't hit a homer at Spring Mobile in 11 consecutive games, the Bees have averaged more than six runs in their last 10 games.
Salt Lake's pitching, however, has not kept pace.
In the same 10-game stretch, Salt Lake's pitchers have been drilled, allowing more than six runs a game worse the last five games, including a 14-8 loss Monday.
"These are the same guys who got us here," said Bees manager Keith Johnson. "We start a new series tomorrow â¦ we have to go out and do the best we can."
Unfortunately on Tuesday, after Salt Lake finally received a quality start, the Bees' offense, despite 13 hits, couldn't find home plate early enough for Shoemaker.
Salt Lake had an early opportunity to make a little hay, but with the bases loaded in the second inning, second baseman Matt Long lined into an inning-ending double play.
O Salt Lake starter Matt Shoemaker allows two runs and strikes out nine in seven innings.
• Luis Rodriguez gives Salt Lake a 3-2 lead in the eighth with a sacrifice fly.
• Las Vegas center fielder Matt den Dekker drives in two to highlight a four-run ninth.