Robert Brender, @robertbrender on TwitterTucson Padres (SD) 6, @ Las Vegas 51s 8
The Las Vegas 51s clinched the Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern Division and a playoff birth with a 8-6 win Saturday night over Tucson at Cashman Field. It’s the first time a New York Mets AAA affiliate has advanced to the postseason since the 2007 New Orleans Zephyrs made it all the way to the PCL Championship round. The last AAA title for the Mets organization was in 1985 when their affiliate was in Tidewater of the International League.
Ruben Tejada got the scoring started for Vegas, launching a solo homerun in the bottom of the 1st inning. It was his second long ball since his demotion and gives him a hit in nine of the last 10 games. During that stretch, the Vegas shortstop is 16 for 40 (.400) and is batting .289 overall in 59 AAA games.
C Francisco Pena also homered for his only hit of the night, a solo shot in the 4th. Things have not gone well for Pena at the plate over the last few weeks while sharing time with Juan Centeno and Travis d’Arnaud prior to his call up. Even with the round-tripper Saturday, the 23-year-old is just 4 for his last 26.
Dustin Lawley has been tremendous in limited action since being called up from St. Lucie August 27. Lawley came to the plate in the 7th inning as a pinch hitter Saturday and promptly singled to drive in a pair of runs giving the 51s an 8-5 lead and some much-needed breathing room. He’s 5-12, HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI since the promotion.
Notes: The 51s will play the Salt Lake Bees in the opening round of the PCL Playoffs starting September 4. The best-of-five series will begin with two games in Utah and shift to Las Vegas for the final three (Game 4 and Game 5 if necessary)….Vegas has a pair of games remaining with Tucson to close the regular season (Sunday and Monday)….Tim Byrdak was recalled by the Mets prior to the game, while Robert Carson was demoted and on his way back to Vegas for the playoffs….The 51s have the best record in the 16-team PCL at 81-61….It’s the 4th time in 51s franchise history they’ve won 80+ games.