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Machín, Schwindel each belt two HRs, Aviators crush Tacoma 15-6

Las Vegas bangs out a season-high 20 hits, including five HRs, and starting pitcher Brian Howard delivers six strong innings as Aviators pick up second straight win
June 22, 2021

With winds in excess of 20 mph gusting out to right field at Las Vegas Ballpark on Monday night, it was a pretty safe bet that the Aviators would hit a home run for the 16th consecutive game. They did just that — and then some. One day after clubbing

With winds in excess of 20 mph gusting out to right field at Las Vegas Ballpark on Monday night, it was a pretty safe bet that the Aviators would hit a home run for the 16th consecutive game. They did just that — and then some.

One day after clubbing three home runs in a 14-3 rout of the Tacoma Rainiers that snapped a six-game losing streak, the Aviators went deep five more times and cruised to a 15-6 victory over Tacoma before a “Pride Night” crowd of 5,921.

Designated hitter Vimael Machín and first baseman Frank Schwindel each homered twice — including on back-to-back pitches in the third inning — and combined for eight RBI as well as seven of their team’s season-high 20 hits.

Machín and Schwindel did enough damage on their own to take down Tacoma (22-17), because Aviators starting pitcher Brian Howard delivered one of his best outings of the season, allowing just three runs on five hits and a walk while striking out four in six innings. But even though he didn’t really need it, Howard got a whole lot more support from the rest of the Aviators’ suddenly red-hot lineup.

Vimael Machín, who was forced to leave Sunday’s game after getting hit by a pitch in his right knee, bounced back in a big way for the Aviators on Monday, going 3-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI against the Tacoma Rainiers. Steve Spatafore | Las Vegas Aviators

In addition to Machín (3-for-5, two homers, walk, four RBI) and Schwindel (4-for-5, two homers, double, four RBI), five other players contributed multiple hits:

• Center-fielder Cody Thomas (2-for-5, including a fifth-inning solo homer)

• Shortstop Pete Kozma (2-for-5, double, walk)

• Catcher Austin Allen (2-for-5, double)

• Third baseman Jacob Wilson (3-for-4, two doubles, three RBI)

• Right-fielder Greg Deichmann (3-for-5, RBI)

Just how good were those top seven hitters in the Aviators’ lineup? They combined to go 13-for-18 with three home runs, three doubles, two walks, nine runs and eight RBI … in the first four innings alone!

All of that damage was done against Tacoma starter (and former Las Vegas 51) Logan Verrett, who was charged with the nine runs, 13 hits and two walks. After Verrett called it a night, the Aviators (20-21) went to work against the Rainiers’ bullpen, adding three runs in the fifth and three more in the seventh.

Howard enjoyed a much better night on the mound than his counterparts — and a much better night than he had in four previous starts at Las Vegas Ballpark this season. The 6-foot-9 right-hander entered Monday with a 10.69 ERA at home, yielding 19 runs in 16 innings. But on this night, he made just two mistakes, giving up a first-inning RBI double to Tacoma left fielder José Marmolejos and a fourth-inning two-run homer to center-fielder Luis Liberato.

Just how efficient was Howard? He needed just 77 pitches to complete six innings; 51 of those pitches were strikes; and he threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 24 batters he faced.

With that performance — and a lot of support from his offense — Howard (2-3) became the second Aviators starting pitcher to earn a victory in as many games, joining fellow right-hander Daulton Jefferies, who got the win Sunday. The significance of that: Through the first 21 games of the season at Las Vegas Ballpark, Aviators starting pitchers failed to record a single win.

GAME NOTES: Thomas (two), Kozma (three), Machín (three), Schwindel (four) and Allen (two) all scored multiple runs. … Schwindel is 8-for-13 with three homers and eight RBI in his last three games. He continues to lead the team in home runs (15), RBI (37), hits (52), runs (37) and multi-hit games (15). In fact, he paces all of Triple-A West (formerly the Pacific Coast League) in hits and runs. … Machín returned to the lineup one day after being forced to leave Sunday’s game in the seventh inning when he was hit by a pitch on his right knee. Prior to Monday, he had hit just one home run in 108 at-bats with Las Vegas. … Wilson is 9-for-22 in the first five games of the series against Tacoma with three home runs and nine RBI. Of his 36 hits this season, 25 have gone for extra bases (10 homers, team-high 13 doubles, two triples). … Deichmann is 5-for-8 with three walks and four runs in his last two games. … After Jesus Zambrano followed Howard and gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning, fellow relievers Zach Jackson and Argenis Angulo came on and retired the final seven Rainiers batters, striking out four. … Since the start of Sunday’s game, the Aviators have put at least one runner on base in 14 of the last 16 innings, including all eight innings in which they hit Monday. … Las Vegas is now three games shy of tying the franchise record for consecutive games with at least one home run. The 2019 squad went deep in 19 straight games.

TRANSACTION ACTION: The Oakland A’s on Monday optioned left-handed pitcher Jesús Luzardo to Las Vegas and promoted Aviators right-handed reliever Domingo Acevedo. A non-roster invitee with Oakland during the spring, Acevedo had been Las Vegas’ most consistent relief pitcher. In 15 relief appearances, he posted a 2.76 ERA, recorded a team-high five saves, struck out 27 and walked just three.

Luzardo — who spent the latter half of the 2019 season with the Aviators and also made one rehab start with Las Vegas earlier this month — struggled with the A’s this season, going 2-4 with a 6.87 ERA in 13 appearances (six starts).

In other roster news Monday, outfielder Marty Bechina joined the Aviators after being promoted from Double-A Midland (Texas). The 24-year-old Chicago native appeared in 26 games with Midland, batting .227 with no homers and 10 RBI. He entered Monday's game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and grounded out in his only at-bat.

ON DECK: The Aviators conclude their six-game series against the Rainiers on Tuesday — as well as their 12-game homestand at Las Vegas Ballpark —when they take the field as Reyes de Plata (“Silver Kings”) as part of Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversión initiative that celebrates local Hispanic/Latino culture.

Luzardo is expected to start for Las Vegas and pitch no more than three innings, and he's scheduled to oppose Tacoma southpaw David Huff (1-0, 2.08).

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