The Rockies sent Pat Valaika to Triple-A Albuquerque this week in a series of moves that eventually led to the return of veteran first baseman Daniel Murphy to the active roster on Wednesday afternoon.
“I just have to make sure they know I can help,” said Valaika.
And after hitting .074 – 2-for-27 – in 15 games with the Rockies, Valaika made his presence felt with the Isotopes in a hurry. Valaika was in the lineup at Salt Lake City on Wednesday and responded with two home runs and three RBI in the Isotopes 5-4 victory at Salt Lake City.
In addition to his troubles at the plate, Valaika knew he was vulnerable because he was the one extra man on the bench who had an option left. This is the fourth season he is splitting time between the Rockies and their top minor league team. After hitting .258 in 110 games in 2017, Valaika struggled a year ago, hitting just .156 in 68 games at the big-league level, and .216 in 37 games at Albuquerque.
He does provide versatility off the bench, having played all four infield positions as well as left field at the big-league level.
In Wednesday’s Games
AAA Albuquerque (12-8) won 5-4 at Salt Lake City (Angels). In addition to Valaika’s power show, Sam Hilliard (.215) doubled home two runs in the ninth to give the Isotopes the lead. Jesus Tinoco (2-0, 2.16) worked a shutout inning of relief, allowing one hit and striking out one, to be credited with the victory. Jairo Diaz (0.87) worked the bottom of the ninth, allowing one hit and striking out two in earning his second save. Evan Grills (7.36) started and allowed four runs, three earned, on 10 hits and a walk, striking out three.
AA Hartford (10-10) won 3-0 at Portland (Red Sox). Rico Garcia (1-0, 2.50) allowed three hits, walking four and striking out six in five shutout innings. Ben Bowden (3.12) worked a perfect ninth, striking out two, for his sixth save. Tyler Nevin (.238) delivered the run-scoring double in the eighth, and Vince Fernandez (.290) hit his fifth homer run in the second.
High A Lancaster (9-11) won 7-5 at Lake Elsinore (Padres). Ryan Vilade (.314) was 2-for-5 with a run scored, two RBI and a double. Todd Czinege (.294) was 2-for-4 with three RBI. Sean Bouchard (.211) hit his first home run. Garrett Schilling (2-1, 4.82) allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits and two walks, striking out four in seven innings. Tommy Doyle (0.00) retired the final two outs to earn his fifth save.
Low A Asheville (7-12) lost 15-7 at Delmarva (Orioles). Alfredo Garcia (0-3, 11.74) worked 2 1/3 innings, giving up the first seven runs in a 10-run third inning. Garcia gave up seven hits and walked three, striking out three. Willie MacIver (.333) was 3-for-4 with three doubles and a run scored. John Cresto (.267) had a three-run double.