SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Bees started the season with three straight victories for just the sixth time in franchise history.
Unfortunately, the Bees maintained tradition and dropped their fourth game, just as they did in four of those other hot starts, in a 9-1 loss to the Tucson Padres at Spring Mobile Ballpark on Sunday afternoon.
“Our bullpen has been throwing the ball well. Our starters have been doing a good job of getting deep in games. And we’ve been doing a good job of taking care of the ball, said Salt Lake Bees manager Keith Johnson. “Obviously today wasn’t quite the same as the first three games of the series.”
Salt Lake first baseman Efren Navarro scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning after reaching first base when he was hit by a pitch. Chris Snyder sent a single through the infield to advance Navarro to third base, and Tommy Field sent a sacrifice fly to deep right to bring him home.
From that point on, however, the Bees struggled to string hits together, leaving 10 runners stranded and recording nine strikeouts at the plate.
The Padres responded in the top of the third inning, scoring their first run when Dean Anna reached base on a single to center field and was pushed around the bases with a fielding error, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly to center field.
Tucson added three runs with two homers between the fourth and fifth innings — a solo shot to left field by Kyle Banks and then a two-run homer to right field by Travis Buck — and then five more across in the seventh, eighth and ninth frames on a combination of base hits and fielding errors to post the 9-1 victory.
“I wish we would have played a little cleaner,” said Johnson, whose team totaled three errors, each of which directly resulted in an unearned run.
“We made a few physical mistakes that we could have eliminated today, and we would have been in it,” he added. “Those things happen. Mentally, I thought our guys were into the game. We just weren’t able to execute as efficient as we had the first three games.”
The Bees finished with seven hits compared to 12 from the Padres. Robertson was 3-for-4 and Buck was 3-for-5 with four runs batted in. Tucson starting pitcher Thad Weber earned the win with five strikeouts; Salt Lake starter Matt Shoemaker had the loss, giving up four runs, including two homers.
The Bees look to get back to their winning ways as they welcome the Reno Aces in a four-game homestand, which starts today.
“By the time they (the Bees players) leave here, they’re going to evaluate what they did today, whether it was good, bad, or otherwise, and then leave it here,” Johnson said.
Padres 9, Bees 1
In short: Kyle Banks and Travis Buck each hit home runs to give Tucson the early lead. Padres center fielder Daniel Robertson finished with three hits, including one double, and two runs scored.
Bees manager Keith Johnson's take: “I wish we would have won but anytime we come out of a series 3-1 in your favor, you’ve got to feel good about what you did in that series.”
Up next: vs. Reno, today, 6:35 p.m. Aces RHP Orangel Arenas vs. Bees Nelson Figueroa.
Next homestand: April 8-11 vs. Reno (Diamondbacks).
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.
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