SALT LAKE CITY — It's bad news when your pitching coach makes a trip to the mound with only one out in the top of the first inning.
Such was the case for the Bees Thursday night when Erik Bennett — the aforementioned coach — made the lonely jog to calm Salt Lake starter Matt Oye, who had been called up from Class-A Inland Empire for a spot start.
Whatever Bennett said to Oye, it didn't work. After one frame, the Bees found themselves in a 4-0 deficit from which they couldn't quite recover. Salt Lake cut Iowa's lead to one in the fifth inning before falling 8-7.
Freddy Sandoval hit his second home run in three games, while Jeff Baisley went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Four Iowa players had two hits.
Salt Lake and Iowa will conclude their four-game series tonight at 7:05 p.m.. at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
JACKSON ON FIRE: On Thursday, ESPN's Jason Grey ranked Iowa's Brett Jackson as one of the top minor league players in baseball. Against Salt Lake, the speedy center fielder has shown why. Jackson has gone 6-for-13 with five runs, three RBIs, and one double, triple, stolen base and outfield assist in the first three games of the series.
Many of the top minor league players have already been called up, and Jackson is poised to be next. He's considered to be Chicago's center fielder of the future, so don't be surprised to see him suiting up at Wrigley Field before the season ends.
WILLIAMS CALLED UP: Just days after firing a complete game against Omaha, Salt Lake's Jerome Williams was summoned by the Angels. The journeyman pitcher — Williams was drafted by the Giants in the first round of the 1999 draft and has since spent time with five organizations and played a year in Taiwan — went 7-2 with a 3.91 ERA in 10 starts for Salt Lake.
On Wednesday he made his first major-league appearance since 2007, throwing two-thirds of an inning in relief. He's expected to start on Sunday against Baltimore.
To make room for Williams on the 40-man roster, Anaheim designated outfielder Reggie Willits for assignment.
CONGER RETURNS TO ANAHEIM: After raking in the PCL for the last month, Hank Conger has been called up to rejoin the Angels. Conger broke Spring Training with Anaheim and hit .214 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 50 games before returning to Salt Lake in July. With the Bees, Conger hit .300 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in only 27 games.
Conger's presence played a key role in the Bees' recent offensive revival.
"I heard somebody say this in the clubhouse earlier, and I thought the same thing — when Hank got here we just started playing better," Salt Lake pitcher Bear Bay said. "I don't know that one person can change a whole team, but everything started clicking once he was here. The team has just been playing with more confidence."
In their first game without Conger, the Bees plated seven runs, but still lost.
Tyler Chatwood, a 21-year old right-hander, was optioned to Salt Lake to make room for Conger. Chatwood has a record of 6-9 and a 4.35 ERA with the Angels.