Pitcher Randy Keisler's 10 strikeouts, as well as a big night from the offense, helped the Albuquerque Isotopes (42-30) win the first of a four-game set with the Oklahoma City RedHawks (30-43), 11-4 on Tuesday at Isotopes Park. The victory elevates Albuquerque to 12 games above the .500 mark, the team's high-water mark for the season.
Keisler took over in the second inning for starter and Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, who threw the first inning to start his Major League rehabilitation assignment while coming back from bone bruise in his right elbow. Broxton spotted the RedHawks a run in the first on a walk and a double, but collected two strikeouts in his one inning of work, throwing a total of 23 pitches before calling it a night.
After the first, the game belonged to Keisler (4-2), who cruised through six innings, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out 10 to claim his fourth straight victory in as many appearances. In addition to recording the most Ks by an Isotopes pitcher this season, Keisler paced Albuquerque pitchers to 15 punch-outs on the night, one shy of a franchise record.
The Isotopes quickly climbed out of the early 1-0 hole and into the lead with a four-run burst in their half of the first. Eugenio Velez led off with a walk, then stole second base and advanced to third on a groundout for Jerry Sands, who reached first on a throwing error from Oklahoma City shortstop Anderson Hernandez, allowing Velez to score and tie the game at 1-1. A Trayvon Robinson walk then set up J.D. Closser, who singled to right-center, scoring Sands and giving Albuquerque a 2-1 lead. That was the first of back-to-back-to-back RBI singles for the 'Topes, as Jamie Hoffmann and Corey Smith knocked run-scoring base hits for a 4-1 lead.
Albuquerque increased the lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the third inning as Hoffmann muscled a 0-1 pitch over the wall in left field for a solo home run, his 12th of the season. Albuquerque tacked on yet another tally in the fifth, as consecutive base hits from Keisler and Velez were followed by Ivan De Jesus Jr. grounding into an RBI force-out, pushing the home team's edge to 6-1.
As Keisler continued to stymie the RedHawks' bats, the 'Topes' offense continued to chug along in the sixth inning, plating three more runs against Oklahoma City reliever Pat Urckfitz, who replaced starter Sergio Perez in the frame. With the bases loaded and one down, Keisler lifted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Robinson from third and increasing the lead to 7-1. Velez then hit a single to right that scored Closser and Hoffmann, giving the 'Topes a healthy 9-1 cushion.
Another RBI single from Closser in the seventh stretched the lead to 10-1, and a solo homer from Smith capped Albuquerque's scoring in the eighth. New Isotopes reliever David Pfeiffer came in for Keisler making his Triple-A debut and conceded three Oklahoma City runs in the ninth to make the score 11-4, but the young lefty finished with a flourish, striking out Robinson Cancel to end the game, one of three Ks on the night for Pfeiffer.
The 'Topes will look for a second straight win against the RedHawks on Wednesday behind right-hander John Ely (3-3, 5.93), who will make the start for Albuquerque against Oklahoma City lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith (2-7, 6.46). First pitch from Isotopes Park is 7:05 PM.
Albuquerque's eight-game homestand finishes strong with a team poster giveaway on Thursday night and Isotopes beanie hats to the first 3,000 fans on Friday courtesy of Coca-Cola. Tickets for any Isotopes game may be purchased at the Isotopes Park Box Office, at Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, or on-line at www.albuquerquebaseball.com or www.ticketmaster.com.