PCL: Bees keep the groove going
There's an easy way to tell a winning baseball clubhouse - music. Typically, following a victory, the room throbs with hip-hop.
The Salt Lake Bees (20-14) have been playing a lot of music lately, and manager Brian Harper, who on Tuesday reached 100 wins faster than any other manager in franchise history, believes years of honed Los Angeles Angels philosophy is the reason.
"They know how to play," said Harper, following Salt Lake's 11-3 victory over Memphis (17-18) before 6,199 at Franklin Covey Field. "I just re-enforce what the other coaches have stressed."
For example, Ben Johnson, just called up from Rancho Cucamonga to spell ailing Ryan Budde, became only the second catcher in franchise history to hit two triples in a single game. He also scored twice.
"That happens when you run hard out of the [batter's] box," Harper said.
Should the Bees, 17-0 when leading after seven, take Memphis today, they will have won four of five home series.
The Bees' pitching staff has been solid in its high-altitude, hitter-friendly park. Starters Kasey Olenberger and Henry Bonilla are each 4-1, while Joe Saunders (1-1), who pitches today, is a proven major league winner.
Jonathon Rouwenhorst (4-0), last week's PCL Pitcher of the Week, continued his good work Thursday by allowing just five hits and two runs in six innings.
"I was just trying to get ahead, just keeping the ball down," Rouwenhorst said. "I feel like I'm throwing pretty well. [Throwing] more innings helps fine-tune everything."
It appears, with nearly a quarter of the season gone, the Bees are a good bet to repeat as Pacific Northern champions.
Salt Lake is first in the PCL in runs and second in batting average. With 34 games in the books, six Bees have driven in 11 or more runs. The PCL's best hitter, Nathan Haynes (.409), has scored 20 times.
Winning is more than home runs. Take Nick Gorneault, who has struggled mightily at the plate so far, hitting just .216. Yet, he's scored a team-leading 24 times.
* With four hits, Salt Lake center fielder Nathan Haynes increases his batting average to .409.
* Every Bee starter has at least one hit and scores one run.
* In his Triple-A debut, catcher Ben Johnson smacks two triples.