Elian Herrera smoked a walkoff RBI single to give the Albuquerque Isotopes a 2-1 victory over the visiting Memphis Redbirds on Monday night.
A total of 6,948 fans watched Albuquerque (13-11) win a rare pitchers’ duel at home, capped by a wild final inning.
“It was a crazy inning, that ninth inning was crazy,” Isotopes manager Lorenzo Bundy said. “I mean, there were a lot of things going on both sides. Fortunately for us, we were able to get the W.”
Brian Barden led off the ninth with a double to right-center. He was then replaced by pinch runner Alfredo Amezaga.
Reliever Chris Withrow (2-0) stayed in to try and bunt Amezaga over, but he was plunked by Jorge Rondon (1-2). Rondon then intentionally walked Dee Gordon to load the bases.
Memphis (13-10) brought in Keith Butler, but Herrera ripped a full-count pitch through the right side to drive in Amezaga with the winning run.
“I was just trying to win the game,” Herrera said. “I was trying to put the ball in contact. I didn’t try to do too much.”
The Redbirds had squandered their own opportunity in the top of the ninth. Kolten Wong reached on a fielding error by Herrera and Oscar Taveras was safe on an infield single to shortstop.
After a fielder’s choice left runners at the corners, Jamie Romak was nearly caught in a rundown, but ultimately the Isotopes chose to let him go back to first base and not risk Wong bolting in from third base to score the go-ahead run.
Withrow then bore down and struck out Ryan Jackson swinging.
Greg Garcia grounded out to third base as Brian Barden made a nice running pick-and-throw to end the threat.
“We had to get about five outs that inning, maybe six,” Bundy said. “(Withrow) pitched his butt off to get out of that, no doubt about it.”
The game was a battle early on between hyped former first-round draft pick Michael Wacha of Memphis and the far-less-hyped Angel Castro of Albuquerque.
Wacha went five innings before allowing Herrera’s leadoff home run in the sixth inning.
All told, the Cardinals’ No. 6-ranked prospect scattered five hits, walked just two batters and struck out three in six innings. He threw 60 of 84 pitches for strikes, mixing in a sinking fastball that hit 95 mph on the gun with a changeup and breaking ball.
“Wacha’s been pitching good obviously by his numbers coming into this game,” Bundy said. “He did an excellent job also other than the home run by Elian. He was pretty darned good, too.”
Castro was even better, throwing seven shutout innings. He allowed just four hits, walked one and struck out five. Castro has more than cemented his spot in the rotation after beginning the year in the bullpen.
“He’s going to stay in that spot right now,” Bundy said. “He’s been pretty good the last couple times out. He kind of runs it up there, but he’s got some pitchability, too, with his breaking ball and changeup. He did a very nice job.”
Memphis tied the game in the eighth as Greg Garcia led off with a single up the middle and then stole second base. After Peter Moylan struck out Justin Christian and Rob Johnson grounded out to third base, pinch hitter Chad Huffman celebrated his 28th birthday by doubling into the left field corner, scoring Garcia.
The Isotopes and Redbirds will continue their series Tuesday at 6:35 p.m.
- A total of 17,071 hot dogs were sold on 50-cent hot dog night, averaging out to 2.46 a fan.
- Dodgers left-hander Chris Capuano is scheduled to make a rehabilitation start in Albuquerque on Wednesday. He is on the disabled list with a strained left calf. Capuano will be followed by Javy Guerrera, who ordinarily would have started on Wednesday.