SALT LAKE CITY — With severe thunderstorms threatening the result of their series-ending contest against the Sacramento River Cats, Sunday afternoon at Smith's Ballpark, the Salt Lake Bees showcased the power that has characterized their season — to great success.
Rymer Liriano hit two home runs, Jabari Blash and David Fletcher each added a homer of their own, and the Bees defeated the Sacramento River Cats 12-5.
"Our guys swung the bats really well, ran the bases well and aggressively. It was just a good team win," Bees manager Keith Johnson said.
The win clinched a split-series between the PCL foes, with Salt Lake taking the first and last contests of the homestand.
SO LONG, SO LONG: The Bees' power bats were at their finest Sunday afternoon, led by Liriano. The Dominican outfielder, third on the team in home runs this season with nine, drilled two balls over the left-field fence in the second and third innings.
"He's just sticking to his plan. Power is his game and he's done a good job putting the ball on the bat, especially in key situations," said Johnson. "He's been a really really big part of the middle of the lineup."
Liriano was joined in ball-bashing by Fletcher and Blash, each of whom sent a ball to The Berm that stands just beyond the left-field grass.
Thanks to the four dingers, the Bees' season total now stands at 74 home runs, through 44 games.
"It's been missing for a while, but we have batters box offense," Johnson said. “We’ve got some guys that can really do some special things, drive the ball into the gaps and out of the park, and they’ve been finding things that they need to do to be successful.”
Salt Lake has averaged just under two homers a game this year, and is currently on pace to hit 236 homers. That number would not only smash the team’s all-time season record, it would almost quadruple the team’s total from just two seasons ago and more than double last year's.
Y2K: The Salt Lake team with the most home runs in history was the 2000 Buzz, a group that featured the likes of Doug Mientkiewicz, Torii Hunter and AJ Pierzynski. That team, which finished in first place in the PCL North division with a 90-53 record, finished with 185 homers, 970 RBIs and 1,016 runs scored.
While Mientkiewicz (18 home runs, 96 RBIs), Hunter (18 home runs, 61 RBIs) and Pierzynski (4 home runs, 25 RBIs) were the most notable members of the season’s clubhouse, the team leader was actually Brian Buchanan, who finished with 27 jacks and 103 RBIs.
FLETCHER EXCELLING: Another game, another strong performance by top-25 Angels prospect Fletcher. He finished 2 for 6 with a two-run homer and a double.
The past month has featured Fletcher at his finest. From April 13 to May 18, the 23-year-old hit .415 with 17 doubles, five triples and four homers, not to mention his 24 RBIs and 34 runs scored.
While his 30-game on-base streak was snapped Saturday night in the Bees' 11-7 loss to Sacramento, Fletcher has been on top of his game this season.
“It’s great to have him play so well,” former Bee and current Angel Michael Hermosillo said, in the midst of Fletcher’s hot streak. “He sets the table for me and others and makes our job that much easier.”
GRADUATE: Third baseman Ryan Schimpf has struggled at the plate for Salt Lake — he is hitting just .176 and has struck out in 46 of 102 at-bats — but some things are more important than baseball.
For Schimpf one of those things was getting a college degree, something be managed to do last weekend when he graduated from LSU with a degree in interdisciplinary studies.
Bees – 12
River Cats – 5
In short: The Bees went yard on four separate occasions Sunday, led Rymer Liriano, who had two homers.
Up next: Salt Lake RHP Osmer Morales (2-2, 5.87) at Albuquerque TBA, Monday, 6:35 p.m.