SALT LAKE CITY — Much of the Salt Lake Bees' success this season has come in the batter's box, evidenced by the fact that Salt Lake has sent Efren Navarro, C.J. Cron, Grant Green and others to Anaheim in contributing roles for the big league club.
On the mound, however, it's been a different story. For much of the season, the Bees' team ERA has hovered around the 6.00 mark, making it hard for the club to produce wins.
In late July, though, the highly scrutinized men on the mound may be making a comeback.
Following Jarrett Grube's six-inning, five-hit, zero-run performance in Salt Lake's 12-3 win over Reno Wednesday, the Bees' starters have posted a 2.33 post All-Star break ERA.
So, what's behind the change?
"Part of it is their consistency of their pitches," Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson said. "They're getting themselves into better counts. The second part of that is we are starting to make the routine play — the things that were kind of getting away from us in the first half of the season, when the pitchers did make good pitches, we weren't making the play behind them."
The improved starting pitching has only led to a 4-3 post All-Star record, but the Bees' bats made sure Wednesday that Grube would get the win.
Roberto Lopez got the scoring started for the Bees with a sacrifice fly in the second to score Tommy Field. From there the hits and runs kept coming.
Luis Jimenez doubled down the left-field line to score Lopez and Tony Campana in the fifth, while John Hester continued his hot surge with an RBI double in the sixth to make it 4-0 for the home team.
Campana's speed wasn't just seen on the base paths. In the sixth the quick center fielder ran down a well-struck ball from Reno's Dustin Martin.
"A guy that's a true center fielder, someone that can go out there and run some balls down for you," Johnson said. "The strength of any ballclub comes from the middle of the diamond. Your catcher, pitcher, shortstop, second baseman and your center fielder. We've been doing a pretty good job fielding the balls up the middle."
Already holding a five-run advantage, the Bees exploded in the eighth inning, scoring seven runs to put the game out of reach.
Bees 12, Reno 3
In short: The Bees' bats came alive with a season-high 18-hit performance as Salt Lake blew out Reno Wednesday night.
Up next: Reno at Salt Lake, Thursday, 6:35 p.m.