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Aviators Top 10: HR streak reaches 19 games

Updated June 26, 2021 - 2:42 pm

1. Streaks: One intact, one not

The Aviators belted two more home runs in a 10-9 loss at Salt Lake on Friday night, making it 19 consecutive games in which they’ve hit a homer and tying a franchise record. The Bees rallied with three runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to halt Las Vegas’ four-game win streak.

2. Spin and bear it

Aviators pitching coach Rick Rodriguez suggested umpires could check pitchers for foreign substances from now until Cleveland wins the World Series and it won’t alter the strategy for getting guys out. “It’s still all about location, location, location,” Rodriguez said of the part spin rate plays in getting guys out.

3. Getting a grip

Still, Rodriguez said he’s “pretty sure” that a high percentage of minor league pitchers are — or at least were — doctoring the baseball to get a better grip on it. Especially the ones on the arid side of Triple-A West. “The balls tend to be a little slicker here in the heat and maybe harder to get a grip,” he said.

4. Cruising altitude

As for the football-like scores during the recent homestand — the winning team scored in double figures in eight of the 12 games — Rodriguez said any edge pitchers might gain by spinning the ball is negated by the thin air and high altitude. “You make a mistake, and normally a fly ball that would go to the warning track will be a home run,” he said.

5. Close but no cigar

One of the hidden features of Las Vegas Ballpark is a humidor under the grandstand that is supposed to keep baseballs tacky. “It’s working good, but once the ball comes out of the humidor and it sits in the bag to go out to the game it might dry up a little bit,” Rodriguez said.

6. Extra bases for Wilson

Heading into Saturday night’s game at Salt Lake, Aviators’ third baseman Jacob Wilson had 41 hits, with 29 (including his 13th homer of the season Friday night) going for extra bases. He’s slugging at a rate of .667 — .220 above his lifetime average.

7. Quote of the week

Tacoma Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto: “It’s 105 degrees but I just put on my sweatshirt because the Las Vegas Aviators installed the greatest air conditioner on planet Earth in the visitors’ broadcast booth.”

8. Runner-up quote of the week:

Rob Fai, play-by-play voice of the Fraser Valley Bandits, a proud member of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (his words): “Vancouver shouldn’t be focusing on trying to get the Oakland A’s to move north. They should be positioning themselves to bring the Pacific Coast League (editor’s note: Or Triple-A West, the PCL’s new secret identity) back to Vancouver once they get pushed out from Las Vegas.”

9. Big bang theories

The Aviators return to Las Vegas Ballpark on Thursday for a six-game series against Sacramento. Thursday is $2 beer night, and additional fireworks — the traditional kind — will be detonated after the Friday and Saturday night games on July 2 and 3.

10. Aviators quick quiz

Which of the following does not apply to Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City, site of the Aviators’ current six-game road series: A: Massive upper deck. B: Stunning view of the Wasatch Mountains. C: Largest capacity (14,511) among Triple-A ballparks. D: Clean up on Aisle 5. The correct answer is D. Though the Smith’s Food and Drug supermarket chain purchased naming rights to the ballpark in 2014, spilled nachos and sodas usually are swept up without an announcement over the public address system.

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