Players from the Reno Aces made a four-of-a-kind with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who dealt the San Francisco Giants a 10-4 loss Saturday at Oracle Park.
Tim Locastro, Ildemaro Vargas and Kevin Cron combined to go 4-for-13 with three doubles, five RBIs and five runs. Starting pitcher Taylor Clarke recorded his first career win in two starts with the Dbacks.
Arizona exploded for a season-high 18 runs with Locastro and Vargas in the starting lineup on Friday. Cron made a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning.
“The one thing I preached to them was just being consistent,” Aces hitting coach Jason Camilli said. “It’s all about sticking to your strengths and sticking to that approach when you step into the box, the results will take care of themselves and they’ve done that.”
Meanwhile in Reno, the Aces defeated Las Vegas 8-3 on Saturday to win the opening game of a four game home series at Greater Nevada Field.
In his first big-league start at first base, Cron went 1-for-4 with a double, sacrifice fly and two RBIs in his first career start. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound slugger drilled a fastball at the hands down the third base line for his first big-league hit in the fifth inning.
Dbacks’ first baseman Christian Walker is batting .197 over his last 30 plate appearances. His slump at the plate prompted Arizona on May 23 to call up Cron, who led the minor leagues with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs.
Aces manager Chris Cron took the day off to watch his son from the stands behind home plate. Chris Cron broke the news to Kevin about his call-up to the show, which was a dream come true for the both of them.
“Hopefully it will come someday when I bring (Kevin) into the office and call him up,” Chris Cron said at the start of the season. “Just tell him the situation at hand. It’s a dream of mine, too. I haven’t really thought of it yet, he’d be up there right now if it was up to me. … When that time comes, I’ll be looking forward to it.”
“It’s something you grow up dreaming about,” Kevin Cron said. “It’s something you put years and years into. Not just professional baseball, but playing up to this point and getting help along the way. … If it happens, I’ll be grateful.”
Locastro went 2-for-4 with two doubles and one RBI. Apart from his productive day at the plate, the 26-year-old made quite the diving grab in the second inning. Locastro sprinted to his left to make the catch and slid into the left field padding, creating a dirt storm in the process.
In Reno, Locastro’s range and athleticism translated to some pre-game batting practice.
“I take it seriously in batting practice,” he said. “That’s the most game-like experience I can get where the guys are doing their best to launch it over (the wall) and I try to get a good jump on them.”
Locastro was hit three times by a pitch in the Dbacks’ 18-2 win on Friday, tying the MLB record which has occurred 28 times by 25 different players since the statistic was officially instituted in 1887.
Ildemaro Vargas finished 1-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs. The rangy infielder was recalled by Arizona on May 21 after second baseman Wilmer Flores was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right foot contusion.
As the everyday second baseman, Vargas is in a groove at the plate. He had a career-high five hits on Friday and launched his second home run of the season. After a slow start to the season offensively, Vargas bumped his batting average to .243 with the Dbacks.
Vargas’ versatility and range defensively is a sure thing. He caught Brandon Crawford’s hard-hit baseball and threw out the three-time Gold Glove winner with a flick of the wrist in the fourth inning.
Fans, teammates and opponents are used to Vargas’ defensive prowess in 298 career games with the Aces.
“I just focus on making the routine play,” he said. “I try to make it easy on myself and not try not to do too much. Wherever I am playing, I will do my job the best I can.”
Clarke kept the Giants bats quiet for most of the afternoon. The right-hander surrendered three earned runs on six hits, three walks and four strikeouts in six innings of work.
Zack Godley’s transition to the bullpen has opened a spot for Clarke in the back-end of the Dbacks’ rotation. Arizona’s No. 10 rated prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Clarke has the tools to make a permanent role with the Dbacks.
Clarke pounded the zone with a four-seam fastball and knee-bending curveball, but opposing batter’s can’t get comfortable when they reach the basepaths. The 25-year-old hurler has developed a quick pick-off move to keep baserunners on guard.
He picked-off San Francisco center fielder Stevan Duggar to keep the bases empty in the first inning.
“That’s something that hides in his arsenal,” Aces pitching coach Jeff Bajenaru. “Guys are really focused on what he’s about to throw but that pick-off move is really coming to plan.”
Whether it’s on the mound, on the field or at the plate, all four players are making the most of their opportunity with the big-league club.
Aces take series opener vs. Las Vegas
Three-run blasts from Domingo Leyba and Abraham Almonte helped the Aces take Game 1 of the four-game series.
Leyba went 1-for-4 with three RBIs in the win. Las Vegas right fielder Dustin Fowler lost track of the baseball before it traveled over the party zone in right field in the fifth inning. He’s up to seven on the year.
A switch-hitter, Leyba has 34 career home runs in his seventh season with the Dbacks’ farm system. 29 round-trippers have come from the left side and five have come from the right.
Almonte followed Leyba with a 484-foot bomb with an exit velocity of 109 mph in the sixth inning. Almonte is batting .254 with five homers and 22 RBIs this season.
Alex Young made his third start with Reno, he appeared in 12 games as a reliever. The southpaw pitched four innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
The 43rd overall pick by the Dbacks in the 2015 MLB Draft, Young’s stuff can translate well to the bullpen. His low-90s fastball complements a low-80s changeup that ties opposing batters at the hands. Young also showcased a 74-mph curveball that broke toward the back foot of lefties.
Reno had nine hits. Cody Decker didn’t hit his 200th career homer, but settled for a two-RBI double instead. Decker, 32, is with his 15th minor league team. Tyler Heineman went 3-for-4.
The Aces jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Las Vegas tied the contest with one run apiece in the third and fourth inning. Reno poured it on with three runs in the fifth and sixth. The Aviators scored another run in the seventh.
Notes: The San Francisco Giants recalled outfielder Mike Yastrzemski early Saturday morning, the grandson of Carl Yastrzemski. Over 53 years, the Boston Red Sox staffed three Hall of Fame left fielders which included Ted Williams, Yastrzemski and Jim Rice. … The Aces have averaged 8.3 runs over their last five games. …Both teams combined for 20 strikeouts. … There was an official attendance of 4,903.
On Deck: Reno, 20-29, face Las Vegas for the second game of the four-game series. Jake Buchanan is expected to get the start for the Aviators. Buchanan went 11-9 record with a 5.17 ERA in 27 games with the Aces last season.
— Isaiah Burrows