SALT LAKE CITY –Salt Lake’s offense shakes off a slow start to the season as pitchers continue their strong performance for the second-place Bees.
After opening a nine-game homestand by winning two of three games against the visiting Round Rock Express, Salt Lake hosted the struggling Tacoma Rainiers in town for a six-game series.
After losing Game 1 in a 13-11 slugfest, Salt Lake won four straight games for the first time since Aug. 13-16, 2021. The two teams combined to score 49 points in the final two games of the series ; a wild 13-12 Bees victory that ended with the season’s second starting error.
After scoring 10-plus points just three times in their first 24 games, the Bees scored in double digits three times in their six-game series against the Tacoma Rainiers. The addition of former top prospect Jo Adell to the roster after his early-season struggles with the Angels has resulted in less playing time at the big league level.
In his first two games with the Bees Adell 4-9 with a double and a homer while scoring three runs and collecting two RBIs.
Adell seems to take the demotion with ease as he sees his time with the Bees as a chance to play everyday, “I’m a player. I’m ready to go. I plan to play most games here, no doubt. So go ahead and chase it.
Salt Lake entered the weekend ninth in the PCL with 20 homers this season, any power was welcome. With warming weather, Salt Lake bats matched park temperatures as Bees hitters combined for 10 long balls in the final three games of the series.
David MacKinnon (5) hit a pair of big flies on Friday for his second two-homer game of the season. MacKinnon is batting .407 in the first week of May. His seven RBI, nine runs scored and 11 hits all lead the Bees for the month.
Brendon Davis (5) won all three games over the weekend, officially emerging from his slow start to the season after receiving his 2021 Angels Minor League Player of the Year award before the series opener.
Matt Thaiss (3) had a solo shot on Saturday to go along with a seventh-inning Grand Slam that kicked off Saturday night’s comeback. Finally, Jake Palomaki (1) made his Triple-A debut for Salt Lake on Sunday and finished with an eighth-inning home run in a late-inning Bees comeback that ultimately fell through.
As a team, Salt Lake hit .321 in May with 58 runs scored, each good for second-best in the PCL behind Round Rock. The Bees’ 10 homers in May are third in the league. Salt Lake outscored its opponents by 43 carries this year, 34 carries better than the division-leading Las Vegas Aviators.
For the second time this season, Cesar Valdez, 37, finished a full nine innings scattering eight hits while allowing just one run in an 8-1 win for the Bees on Thursday, May 5.
Valdez previously earned PCL pitcher of the week honors when he limited Reno to five hits and two runs in his first full game of 2022 on April 22.
Valdez is 4-1 this season with a 3.03 ERA. Averaging nearly one strikeout per inning with 34 punches in 35.2 innings thrown, Valdez was a master of the strike zone while walking fewer batters than games started, 4:5.
Bee pitching coach Jairo Cuevas couldn’t hold back his praise when speaking of Valdez: “What Cesar Valdez is able to do on the mound is impressive,” Cuevas said. “Him on the mound as a competitor is amazing. There is no situation that would take him out of his comfort zone.
Las Vegas Airmen
Las Vegas sits in first place in the PCL West division with a 17-13 record. Leading the Bees by one of thirty games played, the Aviators will enter the series with Salt Lake on a two-game winning streak after winning four of the Sacramento River Cats’ six games last week.
The Bees and Aviators shared a six-game series in Salt Lake in Week 2 of the 2022 season.
Las Vegas features a pair of top prospects for the Oakland Athletics in wide receiver Shea Langeliers and infielder Nick Allen.
The No. 2 ranked prospect in System A is Langeliers and his big league power has lit up the scoreboard in recent weeks. In his last ten games, Langeliers has five homers and ten RBIs, including a two-homer performance against Tacoma on April 30. homers (11), runs scored (24) and RBI (24).
Allen made his major league debut in late April where he appeared in eight games for Oakland, including seven starts between second base and shortstop.
In 16 games with the Aviators, Allen is batting .266 with just two extra base hits and just three runs scored. He had trouble on base paths as indicated by five stolen bases.
Jhonathan Diaz was called up to make his third major league start on Friday, May 6. Originally slated to start in Salt Lake on Friday, Diaz found he would take the major league mound instead and he rose to the occasion. Diaz allowed three hits while walking four, but managed to hold the Washington Nationals scoreless in five innings.
Diaz wasn’t the only Bees pitcher to make an appearance with the parent club this week as reliever Kyle Barraclough pitched two shutout innings, allowing just one hit against the Nationals on Saturday.
On the bridge
Salt Lake opens a six-game series against Las Vegas on Tuesday, May 10. Each Tuesday-Saturday game is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. (MST) with Sunday morning for a first pitch at 1:05 p.m. (MST). All Bees games can be streamed on The Zone Sports Network and Bees tickets can be purchased at slbees.com.