RENO – You can’t blame Matt Koch for feeling a bit snakebit.
The lanky right-hander turned in another very good effort for the Aces, but the offense struggled again in a 4-2 loss to the Salt Lake Bees before a crowd of 3,138 Monday night at Greater Nevada Field.
In his PCL debut back on Aug. 2, Koch allowed two earned runs and eight hits over 6.2 innings against Fresno in a 4-1 loss. He was even better Monday, allowing two earned runs and seven hits in 7.2 innings. He has two losses to show for some good pitching.
“I’m just trying to do my job,” Koch said after falling to 0-2. “I want to give my team the best chance to win the game that I could.
“It’s been tough trying to get that win. I’m hoping next time to do a better job and get the win. My other stuff (fastball and slider) were working well. We started mixing in the change-up later in the game.”
Manager Phil Nevin liked what he saw of his young right-hander – again.
“He threw the ball great and gave us a chance to win,” Nevin said. “We had a hard time figuring out their lefty (Chris Jones). That is the second time (recently) that we haven’t been able to do much with him.
“I put a couple of left-handers in there (Zach Borenstein and Kevin Medrano) because lefties have hit him well. Borenstein had a couple of hits and Medrano had a couple of good at-bats.”
Jones improved to 5-9, and three of those wins have come against Reno.
Reno took a 2-0 lead in the second thanks to four hits, two of which should have probably been outs.
Kyle Jensen hit a bloop double to left , advanced to third on Borenstein’s single and scored on Ed Lucas’ single to right. Todd Glaesman followed with a single up the middle to score Borenstein.
The Aces threatened in the third, putting runners at first and third with two outs. Peter O’Brien struck out to end the inning and the threat
Salt Lake trimmed the deficit to 2-1 with an unearned run in the fifth off Koch.
With two outs, Sherman Johnson walked. Anthony Benboom singled to right off the glove of Jensen. Johnson, who was trying to go from first to third on the play, scored when Mitch Haniger’s throw caromed out of play.
The Aces wasted another opportunity in the fifth when Ildemaro Vargas walked, stole second and reached third when the throw sailed into centerfield. Haniger walked with one out, but Jensen bounced into an inning-ending double play.
Salt Lake went ahead in the sixth when Todd Cunningham doubled and scored moments later on Kaleb Cowart’s one-out single to center, tying the game at 2. The Bees went ahead 3-2 on Quintin Berry’s squeeze bunt.
“I made some mistakes in the sixth,” Koch said. “The pitch to Cunningham I thought I executed well. He was able to stay inside it and drive it down the line. I missed on the pitch to Cowart, and he got a single.”
“It hurt when we got Vargas to third and didn’t score,” Nevin said. “They were able to get their guy home from third (on a squeeze). I wasn’t going to squeeze with Jensen.”
Jones left after six, but the Aces did zilch against relievers Kenyan Middleton and Javy Guerra, who combined for three scoreless innings. Middleton struck out four in his two-inning stint.
“First time we’ve seen him,” Nevin said. “The numbers say he was a starter and they are using him out of the pen. He went deep in some counts, but made pitches when he needed to.”
Reno reliever Daniel Gibson wild pitched home an insurance run in the ninth.
ON TAP: The three-game series continues tonight with Shelby Miller (3-0, 3.65) pitching against Salt Lake’s Troy Scribner (1-1, 0.56). On Wednesday, lefty Edwin Escobar (5-3, 4.54) faces Kyle McGowin (5-9, 6.26).
The Aces have an eight-game road trip at Nashville and Memphis starting Thursday. Matt Buschmann (7-8, 5.30) and Anthony Banda (4-3, 4.27) will start the first two games of the road trip.
SUNDAY SUCCESS: The Aces are 14-3 in Sunday games this year compared to 8-14 a year ago. The team has just four Sunday games left on its schedule.
TRIO HEADED FOR RECORD?: Mitch Haniger (19), Peter O’Brien (21) and Kyle Jensen (25) have combined for 65 homers thus far, five short of the 70 homers that Jamie Romak (27), O’Brien (26) and Nick Evans (17) combined for last season. There are 28 games left on the schedule.
STREAKING: Reno’s Ed Lucas extended his hitting streak to three with a single in his first at-bat.
Salt Lake’s Nick Buss, who didn’t play Monday, has a four-game hit streak and Todd Cunningham extended his streak to four with a sixth-inning double.
SOTO REHAB: Catcher Geovany Soto is currently on a rehab assignment with Salt Lake. The former NL Rookie of the Year is 7-for-36 this year with a homer and eight RBI. He went 0-for-3 on Monday.