Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY— Midway through the 2012 PCL season, Salt Lake is just that, right in the middle of the pack.
The Bees are at .500 with a 35-35 record after Saturday nights 2-1 loss to league leading Fresno (44-25). Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson admitted he isn't satisfied with where his club is at right now, but is definitely pleased with the progress his players are making.
"I wouldn't say satisfied, obviously there are some wins out there that we could have had but that we weren't able to pull out, but the makeup of the team we have now compared to the makeup of the team at the beginning of the season is really better," acknowledged Johnson. "Satisfied, No. Pleased with the progress, yes."
Credit Johnson for braving the slew of call-ups from the Los Angeles Angels reaching down to pluck out the talent in Salt Lake. Up to this point in the season, the Halos have summoned 15 Bees players to join the MLB club, most notably 20-year old slugger Mike Trout.
Johnson said it's just part of the job, and more importantly that it's what he wants for his players.
"That's our biggest goal," said the manager. "We are trying our best to get all these guys up there, so as long as we keep losing guys to the big leagues, we will try and find ways to win down here."
A new realization facing this Bees club is focusing on taking control of the division, where Salt Lake is sitting in second place, seven games behind Reno. The four teams from the top of each division punch their ticket to the playoffs.
The manager avoided talking about playoffs, suggesting that with the long season things can fall into place.
"It's a long season, and we are going to play hard and do our thing and see where that leads us."
As a team, Salt Lake is right in the middle of the field with a batting average of .273 through 70 games.
NOTEBOOK: Salt Lake pitcher Eric Hurley scattered four hits through seven innings, and gave up just one earned run. Hurley also struck out five batters. The Bees were homerless in the loss, and have just 18 homers at Spring Mobile Ballpark this season.
GRAND THEFT, BASAL: The Bees are in second place in the PCL in stolen bases with 70. Division foe Reno sits at the top with 83.
ROAD WARRIORS: Fresno continued its dominance as a visiting team, improving an already strong record on the road to 30-9. That is the best in the PCL.
ATTENDANCE: There were just a handful of empty seats Saturday night, as 14,763 fans showed up to support the home team and enjoy fireworks postgame. The largest home crowd in Bees history showed up May 15, with a total of 15,254.
In short: Paul McAnulty crossed home plate in the second inning on a Kole Calhoun ground out for the Bees first/lone run. Eric Hurley took a one-hitter into the seventh inning, but Charlie Culberson smacked a line drive to center field that scored the tying run. Fresno took the lead in the top of the eighth, after a Francisco Peguero single scored Brock Bond for the games winning run.
Bees manager Keith Johnson's take: "We had an opportunity to win that game, but it slipped away from us a little bit."
Up next: vs. Fresno, today, 1:05 p.m. Bees LHP Greg Smith (2-4, 2.89 ERA) vs. Grizzlies LHP Jason Stevenson (1-1, 6.75)
Next homestand: June 23rd-26 vs. Reno Aces (Diamondbacks).
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