A postseason appearance wasn’t in the cards for the Reno Aces this season.
The Fresno Grizzlies’ come-from-behind 7-6 victory Saturday clinched the Pacific Northern Division with a 76-55 record. This marks the second playoff appearance in four seasons for the Grizzlies, a minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros.
The Aces still hold second place in the division at 67-64. They are 25-15 after the All-Star break, including a season-high seven-game win streak. Reno’s potent offense hasn’t slowed down either, scoring 17 runs and lacing 45 hits over the last six games.
On Monday, shortstop Ildemaro Vargas, 27, and third baseman Kevin Cron, 25, were named All-Pacific Coast League.
Cron, who also plays first base, ranks second in RBIs (91) and slugging percentage (.575). Vargas, who had a franchise record 35-game hitting streak, is second in the PCL with 154 hits and fourth with 10 triples.
Outfielder Socrates Brito ranks seventh in the league in batting average (.323), fifth in hits (131) and third in doubles (31). Pitcher Taylor Clarke ranks second in wins (12) and eighth in strikeouts (116). Jake Buchanan is 10-8 this season, logging 146.2 innings.
With the regular season winding down and big-league rosters expanding in September, expect some Aces to suit up for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dbacks are tied for first in the National League West with the Colorado Rockies at 71-58
Arizona may have its eye on veteran right-handed pitcher Neftali Feliz to improve their 3.61 team ERA. Feliz sports a 5-5 record with 66 strikeouts over 10 starts with the Aces. A closer his entire big-league career, Feliz became a starter on July 2. He was ineffective coming out of the bullpen in the first half of the season for the Aces, but as a starter has allowed more than two runs just once over nine starts. He earned the save in the 2010 ALCS, which sent the Texas Rangers to the World Series in 2010.
Sluggers Christian Walker and Yasmany Tomas can be utilized as pinch-hitters with plenty of pop in their bats. Walker has bumped his average up to .297 with 18 round-trippers and 67 RBIs. He also has 18 starts in left field for the Aces. Walker has been called up to the Dbacks four times this season.
Tomas, who signed to a lucrative multiyear extension in 2014, is anxiously awaiting his return to the desert this season. He was optioned to Reno on March 25. Tomas’ below average speed and arm keeps him out of the lineup against National League opponents. But after a slow start, his bat is coming to form. He is hitting .258 with 12 homers, four triples and 61 RBIs.
After a three-game series in Salt Lake, the Aces will return home Aug. 31 in a four-game series against the Albuquerque Isotopes, putting a stamp on a 140-game regular season.
Despite falling short on their postseason aspirations, there was plenty of action in the Biggest Little City during the second half stretch.
- July 21 — New England Patriots linebacker and Super Bowl champion Kyle Van Noy returned to his hometown of Reno, Nevada, taking some special guests from a local foster care agency to a Reno Aces game.
- Aug. 8 — Ildemaro Vargas extended his hitting streak to 32 games, breaking the franchise record of 31 consecutive games set by Jake Elmore.
- Aug. 15- Christian Walker hit his 50th career home run with the Aces, tying him third all-time in franchise history with Peter O’Brien.
Notes: Kristopher Negron launched his career-high 15th homer on August 21. … Taylor Clarke and Jake Buchanan are the only pair of teammates in the PCL with 10 wins or more. … Former Reno Aces shortstop Jack Reinheimer recorded his first major league hit with the New York Mets on Aug. 15. … Former Aces catcher Michael Perez had his first big league home run on Aug. 10 for the Tampa Bay Rays. He was acquired via trade that sent reliever Matt Andriese to the Dbacks. Tampa Bay immediately inserted Perez in the starting lineup. The Puerto Rico native is batting .284 with eight RBIs in 67 at bats. He had four RBI in a game on Saturday.
— Isaiah Burrows