Reno Aces first baseman Christian Walker has logged a lot of miles in the air this season and he added a tape-measure home run to his ledger on Monday in a 9-6 seesaw loss to the Salt Lake Bees at Greater Nevada Field.
Walker, who has traveled up to the major league twice already this year, finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs, including a round-tripper that flew over the wall in left-center field field all the way to the railway tracks. He has three home runs in his last five games and seven in the month of June.
The rest of the Aces offense remained hot as well, but the pitching staff was tepid. Reno had 13 hits. Designated hitter Yasmany Tomas went 2-for-5 with a triple, Rey Fuentes finished 2-for-4, third baseman Juniel Querecuto was 1-for-5 and catcher Michael Perez went 2-for-4 with a double.
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Robbie Ray was expected to make his second rehab appearance. But the Aces’ big league affiliate instead will activate him Wednesday, ESPN reported. A 2017 National League All Star, Ray went on the disabled list with a rib injury after his sixth start this season.
Aces right-hander Jake Buchanan pitched well for most of his 6.1 innings, surrendering three of his six runs in the fourth inning. He allowed eight hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Salt Lake countered with Osmer Morales, who tossed 3.2 innings, giving up six runs on 10 hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Miguel Almonte came out of the bullpen and won his second game of the year.
The Los Angeles Angels Triple-A affiliate Bees’ offense is sweet as honey. Its 14 hits was a buzz kill to the Biggest Little City, which had a fireworks celebration at the famed arch during the game. Salt Lake exploded for 14 hits and mascot Archie was not amused. Jose Fernandez went 2-for-5 with a double and a homer. Rymer Liriano finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Jabari Blash finished 2-for-2 with and an RBI. Kaleb Cowart went 3-for-5. Taylor Ward added three hits.
The Bees are batting .298 with 112 home runs. Loaded with big-league sluggers, the Bees sit atop the PCL Southern Division with a 44-33 record.
Aces shortstop Ildemaro Vargas put on a defensive display. His reflexes and cat-like quick glove to throwing hand on a slow-hit chopper to short saved Reno from a bases-loaded disaster in the seventh. He followed it with a bullet cut-off throw from right-fielder Fuentes to third baseman Querecuto for an eighth inning putout.
Walker’s blast put Reno up 2-0 in the second. Salt Lake jumped out to a three-run fourth inning, but the Aces responded with a four-run fourth with Fuentes, Walker and Querecuto doing the heavy lifting.
Fernandez’s homer capped-off three-straight two-run innings for the Bees. An Aces’ comeback wasn’t in the cards, as their offense grew cold toward the latter stages of the game.
Querecuto’s hit streak snapped: Aces infielder Juniel Querecuto’s 12-game hit streak came to an end Sunday in a 4-3 loss in Las Vegas. During the streak, Querecuto went 19-for-51 (.372) with three RBIs. He had a 17-game hit streak during his time combined with Double-A Jackson. He started a new one Monday.
Shipley called back to the desert: The Arizona Diamondbacks recalled Braden Shipley following Saturday’s 5-4 victory, optioning Jake Barrett to Reno in the process. The UNR alum is in his third stint with the Dbacks. Shipley, 26, has two scoreless appearances, both against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Arizona swept Pittsburgh in the four-game series.
Notes: Reno holds a .500 record (11-11) in June. … The Aces are 30-19 when scoring four or more runs this season. … They are 16-39 when they allow four or more runs this season. … Both teams combined for 14 strikeouts.
On Deck: Reno (34-43) will look to bounce-back against Salt Lake (44-33) Tuesday, game time 7:05 p.m. Probable pitchers are Taylor Clarke (7-5 in 14 starts, 4.14 ERA) for the Aces and the Bees Griffin Canning, a second-round 2017 draft pick from Santa Margarita High School and UCLA who ascended this year from Single-A to Triple-A in just 12 starts. He has started two no-hitters this season.