The Salt Lake Bees entered the All-Star break having lost 12 of their past 13 games, a stretch that sent them plummeting from first place in the Pacific Southern Division.
It turns out that the three-day break might have been just the elixir the Bees needed. Salt Lake took three of four games from the Sacramento River Cats on the road before opening a four-game homestand with a 10-5 win over the Las Vegas 51s on Monday night at Smith’s Ballpark.
The Bees (49-46) took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on RBI singles by Kaleb Cowart, Eric Young Jr. and Joe Hudson. Another RBI single by Young made it 4-2 in the third inning before Luis Rengifo’s two-run triple and Michael Hermosillo’s run-scoring single stretched the lead to 7-2.
Hermosillo drove in Nolan Fontana with a double in the fifth, and Jared Walsh finished off the Bees’ scoring with a two-run double later in the frame. Rengifo finished 3-for-4 at the plate, and Young was 3-for-5. Starting pitcher Ivan Pineyro allowed five earned runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings, improving his record to 3-7 this season. Dylan Unsworth threw three shutout innings to pick up his first save of 2018.
Salt Lake came up one run short of sweeping Sacramento, falling to the River Cats 6-5 on Sunday in the final game of their four-game series. Sacramento led 3-0 after one inning, but a home run by Taylor Ward and an RBI single by Hermosillo in the third cut the lead to 3-2. Rengifo had an RBI double and Matt Thaiss added a two-run single in the fourth to give the Bees a 5-3 lead, but they couldn’t hold on.
The Bees beat the River Cats 3-2 on Saturday as Cowart’s RBI single in the top of the eighth inning proved to be the difference. Salt Lake’s other two runs came on an RBI groundout by Fontana in the second and a bases-loaded walk by Francisco Arcia in the sixth.
On Friday, the Bees picked up a 7-4 win, with all of their offense coming in the third and fourth innings. Rengifo and Walsh had two-run singles in the third, and three more runs came across in the fourth on a groundout by Rengifo and run-scoring singles by Thaiss and Ward as Salt Lake took a 7-0 lead.
The Bees won the series opener 9-4 on Thursday. Ward hit a three-run home run in the first inning to put the Bees in front, and an RBI single by Ben Revere and a two-run homer by Thaiss in the sixth made it 6-1. Fontana added a three-run homer in the ninth to wrap up the scoring.
The Bees’ recent strong play, paired with a 1-4 stretch by first-place El Paso coming out of the All-Star break, has Salt Lake within two games of the Chihuahuas for the top spot in the Pacific Southern Division.
Salt Lake played the second game of its four-game series against Las Vegas on Tuesday night after press time. The Bees and 51s will also meet Wednesday and Thursday, with both games set to begin at 7:05 p.m. at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City.