The Salt Lake Bees, now in the homestretch of the 144-game Pacific Coast League season, are suddenly getting healthy. If Monday night's game against the Fresno Bees is any indication, the rest of the PCL should be worried.
Led by four players who recently came off the disabled list, the Bees blasted the Fresno Grizzlies 12-1 at Franklin Covey Field. The Bees are now 72-50 with an eight-game lead in the Pacific North Division with just three weeks remaining in the regular season.
"Now that everybody is back together, it's starting to click a little bit," said Bees catcher Bobby Wilson, who got the Bees off to a blazing start on Monday with a first-inning grand slam.
Center fielder Brad Coon, first baseman Kendry Morales and Wilson, each of whom recently spent a month or more on the disabled list, were the catalysts of the big offensive output on Monday.
Coon, batting in the leadoff spot, was a thorn in the Grizzlies' side all night, going 4-for-4 and scoring three runs. Morales had a pair of hits and drove in three runs, while Wilson had two hits and drove in four.
Starting pitcher Giancarlo Alvarado, who missed his previous start while on the disabled list, was also outstanding. He went 5-2/3 innings, giving up just two hits and one run on a solo homer by Fresno's Clay Timpner. For the game the Bees pitchers Alvarado and relievers Chris Bootcheck, Matt Wilhite and Jeff Kennard combined to surrender only three hits while striking out eight.
Salt Lake will be getting back another key player who helped them to a record-breaking 24-2 start to the season today when outfielder Terry Evans returns. Evans, a 2007 Triple-A All-Star for the Bees, has been out of commission since May 21 with a torn right labrum. He's spent the past week on rehab assignment with the single-A Tempe Angels, where he's been pounding the ball and now he has been deemed healthy enough to rejoin his Salt Lake teammates.
"(Evans will) be a little rusty because he hasn't seen this kind of pitching in awhile, but it is nice to have Terry back," said Bees manager Bobby Mitchell.
The Bees will now head out on the road for a four-game set at Sacramento, a team Salt Lake most likely will face again next month in the first round of the PCL playoffs. Bees right-hander Nick Adenhart (7-10, 5.89 ERA) is scheduled to start tonight against the River Cats' Brad Knox (6-2, 4.84 ERA).
"This is going to be a tough series," said Mitchell of playing Sacramento. "They have a good team and play well at home, so it will be interesting to see how we will respond."BEELINES: Morales' single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest of the season for the team. He entered tied for the Bees' longest hitting streak of the season with outfielder Chris Walker, who hit safely in 13 straight games from May 28 to June 10 ... Bees infielder Freddy Sandoval has a PCL-high 39 doubles on the season. He entered Monday night's game second in all of triple-A in doubles behind only Oscar Salazar of Norfolk of the International League ... Bees players Matt Brown and Kevin Jepsen are on leave from the team as members of the USA baseball team. They will start their quest for Olympic gold on Wednesday agaisnt South Korea ... Attendance at Monday's game was 10,071.