Pat Valaika's struggles as a role player in the big leagues prompted the Rockies to option him to Triple-A Albuquerque to get regular at-bats. Valaika has responded to the opportunity. He did not waste any time pouting about the demotion.
Valaika hit .156 in 112 at-bats with the Rockies last season, and opened this year by going 2-for-15.
In Albuquerque, he has bounced back, and is hitting .407 in his first seven games with the Isotopes with six home runs and 11 RBI in 27 at-bats. He has hit safely in six games with multiple hits in four.
In Tuesday's Games:
AAA Albuquerque (15-11) lost 17-7 against Sacramento (Giants). Valaika (.407) did hit two home runs, and Drew Weeks (.241) was 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI. Ryan Castellani (2-1, 5.32), who did hit a two-run home run, started and gave up nine runs, eight earned, on six hits and two walks, striking out five in four innings. Mitch Horaceck (18.82), who along with Castellani was part of a nine-run fifth inning for Sacramento, was charged with eight runs on nine hits and a walk, retiring four batters.
AA Hartford (12-14) won 4-0 against Portland (Red Sox). Rico Garcia (2-0, 1.82) allowed four hits and a walk, striking out one in 6 2/3 innings. Rayan Gonzalez (2.92) earned his first save, allowing one hit and a walk, striking out three in 2 1/2 innings. Chris Iannetta was 0-for-3 for the second game in a row in his rehab assignment, but did deliver a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Colton Welker (.356) was 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the eighth. Manuel Melendez (.214) hit his second home run of the season in the sixth.
High A Lancaster (14-12) won 8-3 in 13 innings at Modesto (A's). Matt McLaughlin (.296) delivered a go-ahead single in the 12th and then a two-run single in the 13th. Sean Bouchard (.237) also doubled home two runs in the 13th. Antonio Santos (3.29) started and allowed one run on four hits, striking out five, in six innings. Braxton Lorenzini (1-2, 5.54) was charged with a blown save in the 12th, but worked a 1-2-3 13th for the win.
Low A Asheville (9-15) won 5-4 against Hagerstown (Natioanls). The Tourists claimed their first walk-off win of the season. Willie MacIver (.325) was 2-for-4, including the game-winning single that scored Grant Lavigne (.278). Terrin Vavra (.321) was 2-for-4 with his third home run and two RBI. Nick Kennedy (1-0, 2.20) worked a scoreless ninth, throwing only nine pitches and striking out two, to be credited with the win. Alfredo Garcia (10.35) started and allowed three runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out eight, in 4 2/3 innings.