The second half of the Pacific Coast League season started off with a bang for the Isotopes tonight, as a strong performance from pitcher Randy Keisler and another great offensive effort propelled them to an 11-4 win over the Oklahoma City RedHawks. It’s Albuquerque’s fourth win in five nights.
Let’s check out tonight’s three stars of the game. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure how who gets the first star:
1. Randy Keisler (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K), Albuquerque
After allowing just one unearned run in an 8-2 win over the ‘Hawks last Thursday in Oklahoma City, Keisler continued to lock them down in the opening game of this four-game set here in Albuquerque. After taking over for rehabbing Dodgers pitcher Jonathan Broxton in the second inning (Broxton was scheduled to pitch the first inning or around 25 pitches), the Texas native proceeded to put up what has to be his best effort of 2011.
2. J.D. Closser (3-for-5, two RBI, two runs scored), Albuquerque
The catcher played a key role in Albuquerque’s four-run first that gave them the edge for good out of the gate. Closser’s two-out single to right-center broke a 1-1 tie and started a back-to-back-to-back string of RBI singles that gave the home team a 4-1 edge after one inning. He also chipped in with another RBI base hit in the seventh.
3. Eugenio Velez (3-for-4, two RBI, one run scored), Albuquerque
Velez’s biggest contribution to the ‘Topes’ offensive output came in their three-run burst during the bottom of the sixth inning. With Albuquerque up 7-1, the second baseman knocked a base hit to right field that brought home J.D. Closser and Jamie Hoffmann to extend the lead to 9-1. While no lead is ever completely safe in Isotopes Park, Velez’s single seemed to make things feel a little safer.
Let’s talk pitching
Dodgers pitcher Jonathan Broxton began his Major League rehab assignment tonight for Albuquerque, giving up one run in the first but striking out two RedHawks batters in his inning of work (23 pitches). As he comes back from a bone bruise in his right elbow, the same plan for him going into tonight — throwing the first inning or around 25 pitches — will be followed on his next scheduled outing, which comes Thursday.
Isotopes acting manager John Valentin felt Broxton’s main goal was accomplished: Making sure he’d be good for the next go-round.
“The most important thing is he came out of there healthy and ready for his next showing on Thursday. He got his work in and felt good, so it’s a good sign.”
After Broxton finished his work, Randy Keisler came on and twirled a gem for the ‘Topes. The left-hander, now 4-2 on the campaign, credited his success on Tuesday to his curveball.
“I’ve been fighting finding my curveball all season and I’m just trying to being consistent with it,” Keisler said. “In my last bullpen session with [pitching coach] Glenn Dishman, something just clicked and it was definitely working tonight.”