Reno Aces slugger Christian Walker is launching baseballs at an extreme rate, and it cost the Iowa Cubs on Thursday.
Walker went 4-for-5 with two RBIs in the Aces 11-4 win. He has homered in four-straight games. Walker’s 39 career round-trippers are third all-time in Aces’ history. After a slow start, his average is bumped up to .282 with seven homers and 24 RBIs.
“For the kind of hitter I am, and where I’m at in the order (third), I am always looking to deal some damage,” Walker said. “I am starting to open my approach to not chase after anything and stay with pitches in the zone. So, I’m just trying to keep it simple, not too fancy.”
The reigning Pacific Coast League MVP’s power is on full display in the Biggest Little City, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have taken notice, Walker has been called up three times this season. He has three hits, including a home run, in 17 at bats with the big-league club. More back-and-forth trips may take place, as Walker is in the final year of his minor-league option.
Primarily a first baseman, Walker is developing as an outfielder. He played left field on Thursday night. The Dbacks starting first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, a right-hand hitter as is Walker, is a perennial all-star who recently was named National League Player of the Week.
“No matter where I’m at, the main focus is to win,” Walker said. “I just need to keep improving as a player and make those necessary adjustments and hope that translates to wins as the season goes along.”
The Aces continued their hot hitting ways with 15 more, enough to reward the 3,999 fans in attendance a free Jumbo Jack. Right fielder Socrates Brito, who’s batting .344, went a perfect 4-for-4 with four RBIs and shortstop Idelmaro Vargas extended his hitting streak to 13 games in a 3-for-5 performance.
Prized Dbacks’ prospect Taylor Clarke pitched his way to a team-leading seventh win. Clarke, 25, went seven strong innings, allowing four runs on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
Iowa’s Mike Freeman returned to Greater Nevada Field on a cool summer night. The 30-year-old is fifth all-time in Aces’ history in games played (272), fourth in hits (301) and second in triples (18). Freeman finished 0-for-4.
Reno jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning with RBIs from Brito, first baseman Kevin Cron and catcher Michael Perez. Cron’s sacrifice fly marked his 32nd of the season, tying him with Anthony Recker atop the Aces’ leaderboard. Iowa second baseman David Bote responded with a 413-foot blast to left field, cutting their deficit 4-2.
Runs in the fourth in the fifth inning gave the Aces a 6-2 lead, but Iowa answered with a two-run blast from Jacob Hannemann in the seventh. Reno’s bats cleaned up the mess with five more runs, forcing the Cubs to wave the white flag on Flag Night. Fresh off the disabled list with elbow inflammation, Dbacks reliever Randall Delgado pitched 1.2 innings with one strikeout in an MLB rehab appearance.
Notes: Pitcher Taylor Clarke, who finished 1-for-4 at the plate, leads the Aces pitchers with six hits on the season. … Reno is 5-5 all-time in games played on June 14. … The Aces have a combined 27 hits and 18 runs scored in the past two games. … Four pitchers combined on a no-hitter for The Dback’s Double-A Jackson Generals, who won 6-0 over the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.
On Deck: Reno (31-36) will look win the series with Iowa (25-39) on Friday. The Aces Anthony Vasquez will face against Trevor Clifton. The game is a 7:05 p.m. start.