Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. The Salt Lake Bees were both Tuesday, beating the New Orleans Zephyrs 11-6 in a game that felt more like a sandlot game than anything else.
The Bees (65-45) capitalized on four New Orleans errors and other additional mistakes to close out a winning homestand with momentum going into a road trip that includes a trip to Iowa, a Cub team with which Salt Lake is tied best record in the PCL.
Salt Lake used a four-run fourth to jump out to a lead. The inning started with a triple from Sean Rodriguez off a shot that hit the wall and was misplayed by Zephyr left fielder Chris Aguila, who had a terrible night in the outfield. Freddy Sandoval then hit an RBI double to Aguila, who couldn't track the ball down at the warning track. Kendry Morales then hit a two-run home run just to the right of the screen in center field, and Brandon Wood promptly hammered a homer of his own to left field.
Wood has been red hot since the All-star break, going 22-for 48 with eight home runs and 14 RBI. He attributes that to changes Angels coaches made to his hand position on his bat, which made his swing quicker and more compact.
"You try to stay comfortable up there, stay confident, and that's half the battle in baseball," Wood said. "I've got a good run going right now, but if I have a bad night, I let it go and try to get back on track. Having the all-star break and being able to clear my mind helped me, too. I was trying to do way too many things, I wanted to just come out fresh out of the break."
New Orleans responded with six runs of its own in the top of the sixth inning to make the score 6-4. But the Bees answered right back in the bottom half of the inning. Wood blistered the ball to the left field wall for a double to get things going for Salt Lake, and the Bees scored scored five of their own off of misplayed balls in the outfield and at third base to retake the lead at 9-6. Salt Lake scored two more in the bottom of the eighth off a two-RBI double from Kendry Morales, who went 2-for-5, but with four RBI and one run scored. Reliever Chris Bootcheck pitched three scoreless innings and earned the save, but more importantly, saved closer Jason Bulger from any more unneeded work.
Manager Bobby Mitchell was pleased with the way the team handled itself in the late comeback but was more impressed with Wood."Brandon got us going, everyone else followed suit, and along with the errors by New Orleans, it snowballed a little bit," Mitchell said. "I thought more than what Brandon did tonight, I thought his last at-bat was his best. He's being more patient, he's understanding the strike zone, and he's laying off pitches. He was down 0-2 and walked. That's huge for him, and huge for us."