AAA Thursday: Las Vegas Bullpen Implodes in Loss, Wheeler Struggles Again

Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) 13, @Las Vegas 51s 12

It was another uneven outing for Las Vegas starter and Mets top pitching prospect Zack WheelerWheeler Vegas Head. After surrendering back-to-back doubles and a run to the first two batters he faced in the opening inning, Wheeler settled in. He did not allow a hit and yielded only one base runner over the next three frames.

However, the 5th inning was a different story. After surrendering a leadoff homerun to Carlos Triunfel, Wheeler retired the next two batters with relative ease only to suddenly lose command of the strike zone. He walked Nate Tenbrink, allowed an infield single to Nick Franklin and then a free pass to Eric Thames. The walks came back to bite Wheeler when Alex Liddi doubled home two with a hot shot to the wall in right field. Despite the poor 5th inning, Wheeler started the 6th for just the third time this season. The tall right hander failed to record an out in the frame. A leadoff homerun by Stefen Romero followed by a hit batter spelled the end of the night after 102 pitches (62 strikes). On a positive note, Wheeler’s velocity was outstanding, hitting 94-97 consistently and touching 99 mph on the Cashman Field radar gun.

The final line for Wheeler: 5+IP 6H 5R 5ER 7K 3BB 1HBP 2HR. His era went from 4.91 up to 5.79 this season.

Three straight days off due to bad weather in Colorado and a scheduled day off for travel didn’t slow down the Las Vegas offense. The 51s collected double digit hits for the fifth consecutive game, averaging 9.4 runs per game over that stretch. ss Omar Quintanilla hit his first homerun of the season, a two run shot in the 3rd, and drove in an additional run later on a sac fly. rf Andrew Brown also drove in three runs on a pair of hits and is now batting .351 for the campaign. Brown leads the squad with 18 rbi. 1b Josh Satin increased his team-leading batting average to .362, going 3 for 5 with a double, rbi and two runs scored. cf Kirk Nieuwenhuis made his first appearance with the 51s after being sent down by the Mets April 23. He was 1 for 4 with an rbi and run scored but was struck out three times.

With the 51s holding a 10-6 lead starting the 9th inning, the combination of Justin Hampson, Greg Peavey (1-2) and Armando Rodriguez proceeded to allow seven runs on five hits and three walks, blowing a chance for Wheeler to get his first win of the year. Las Vegas added two more runs in the bottom of the inning but failed to complete the comeback.