The few Cashman faithful who came out on this hot Las Vegas Sunday afternoon got a treat. A familiar figure doing familiar things in the person of left-hander Steven Matz.
After a tough loss to start the home stand, the Las Vegas 51s (20-31) sent a rehabbing Matz to the mound against El Paso. Matz was coming off a rough outing in Round Rock in the first AAA outing of his rehab in which he gave up five runs on five hits over four innings, giving up two home runs. At Cashman, Matz was back to his old self. He breezed through five innings, dispatching the Chihuahuas in order. He threw 73 pitches, 50 for strikes, and struck out eight.
The 51s offense provided a couple of runs to support their starter’s effort. Centerfielder Brandon Nimmo led off the bottom of the first with a double, his first of three in the game. With one out, Dominic Smith singled to drive in Nimmo and give Vegas the lead. Nimmo and Smith were at it again in the third. Nimmo singled and moved to second on a groundout. Smith collected his second consecutive RBI single.
Nimmo led off the fifth with his second double of the game, but he was stranded there. With Matz’ work done for the day, the 51s took a slim 2-0 lead into the sixth.
Alberto Baldonado was the first out of the pen to start the sixth and he struggled mightily. After giving up two singles, a double and a walk, Baldonado left the game with one out, one run in, and the bases loaded. Erik Goeddel got the call and was greeted rudely, allowing a grand slam to El Paso first baseman Jose Pirela. Goeddel managed to retire the next two batters, but the 51s were now down 5-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, catcher Kevin Plawecki led off with a double. He moved to third on a ground out and scored on a double by third baseman Phillip Evans. Evans came all the way around to score when left fielder Jayce Boyd reached first on a throwing error. Nimmo then doubled for the third time and drove in Boyd with the tying run.
With the game now tied, Goeddel was able to work a scoreless seventh. Chasen Bradford followed with a scoreless eighth. In the bottom of the inning, Evans led off with a single and Boyd drew a walk. One out later, shortstop Amed Rosario singled to drive in Evans with the go-ahead run. Smith collected his second RBI single, driving in Boyd and increasing the 51s lead to 7-5.
Hansel Robles, recently sent down by the Mets, was called on to close the game out. After two quick outs, Robles made it a bit too interesting. He walked two and then gave a up a single to load the bases. But he managed to strike out the final batter to nail down the win.
Steven Matz pitched five perfect innings, striking out eight in his second rehab start for Las Vegas. Brandon Nimmo went 4-5 with three doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. Dominic Smith was also 4-5 with three RBI. Phillip Evans was 3-4, scoring two and driving in one.