SALT LAKE CITY — The life of a minor league baseball team may be called many things, but "easy" is never one of them.
Billy Buckner was set to be the Salt Lake Bees' starting pitcher Friday night against Sacramento, but before the game, the Angels called his number for his second stint in the majors this season.
Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson is no stranger to that situation, however, and was grateful the roster move was at least made before game time.
"We were in Vegas last year and (Las Vegas outfielder Eric) Thames was in the middle of an at-bat and we had to call a timeout because he had been traded to the Mariners," Johnson said. "It's one of those things. Those guys coming in out of the bullpen did a great job picking up those nine innings for us."
All things considered, the Bees responded to the move fairly well. After a rocky but successful start, Fernando Cabrera gave way to a bullpen that put in a solid day's work during the Bees' eventual 5-2 win over the River Cats Friday night.
"Other than the starter having to come in out of his comfort zone and start for us, after that, all the guys coming into the game it's was all about protecting a lead," Johnson said. "It's much better than coming in and being behind. Our hitters did a good job of putting up a 3-spot early on a good pitcher and we were able to make it stick."
Second baseman Tommy Field continued his hot streak, hitting 2 of 4 with two RBIs and a solo shot to deep center field in the fourth inning.
"Right now I'm just trying to keep it simple with a basic approach, stay inside the ball and let it come to me," Field said. "It's great. Everything is coming together right now. Our pitching is doing great; everybody is hitting in the lineup; and we're doing the simple things right."
It wasn't all lumber Friday night, as Field flashed the leather in the top of the eighth, showing off his range deep in the hole at second to get the second out of the inning.
"I love making defensive plays," Field said. "I like helping the pitcher out, especially because it helps him feel good and helps him get back in there and grind it out."
On a night that saw competitive eating champion Takeru Kobayashi throw out the first pitch and down 13 water-logged hot dogs in the eighth inning, it was the Bees' aggressiveness that stole the show. Andrew Romine pushed the envelope in the seventh, typifying what has been the key to Salt Lake's success in its six-game winning streak.
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"That's just guys being aggressively and playing the game the right way and playing it hard," Johnson said. "Obviously had Romine just cruised into third base, there wouldn't have been an opportunity to (score). But he was running hard and we saw the defense wasn't playing aggressively and we rolled the dice there. That was a huge run for us at the time; it gave us a three-run cushion instead of just two and the credit goes to Romine on that one."
The Bees next take their hot streak and 41-35 record on the road for 11 games in 12 days, starting Saturday in Las Vegas.
Jonathan Boldt works for the Deseret News as a scoreboarder and sports reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow him on Twitter @jboldt24. His website is www.boldted.com.