An Albuquerque Isotopes error in the fifth inning opened the floodgates for the Reno Aces Thursday night at Isotopes Park. The Aces knocked four hits after the miscue and scored four times in the frame, guiding them to an 8-2 season-opening victory on the road.
In front of 8,702 fans, the Aces picked up where they left off last season, playing solid baseball on the road. Last year, Reno went 42-30 away from home, the best mark in all of Triple-A.
Albuquerque – in their first season as the Colorado Rockies' Triple-A affiliate – was handed an Opening Day rehab start, courtesy of 11-year MLB veteran, Jorge De La Rosa.
The 34-year-old with 84 Major League wins to his credit was given an early 1-0 lead, thanks to a throwing error by Aces shortstop Danny Worth. Brandon Barnes opened the home half of the first with a double to left before scoring on the blunder.
But it took just one pitch for Reno right-fielder Peter O'Brien to erase the mistake in the second. The highly-touted slugger, who launched 34 home runs across two levels last year, parked the first Triple-A offering of his career over the wall in center.
Albuquerque (0-1) reclaimed their one-run advantage in the third behind Kyle Parker's solo blast, but it was all Reno from then on. Upon De La Rosa's abbreviated exit, the Aces hammered right-hander Jon Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft.
Jamie Romak, an Isotope last season, reached on a fielding error to begin the fifth. Singles by Danny Dorn and O'Brien followed, the latter giving Reno (1-0) a lead they didn't relinquish. Garrett Weber drove a double into the right-field corner before catcher Blake Lalli capped the outburst with a two-run bloop single to center.
In the bottom half, Reno starter Vidal Nuño (1-0) worked out of a jam and eventually picked up the win in his Aces and Pacific Coast League debut. He allowed two runs – one earned – on six hits over five innings. He struck out six batters, two coming in both the second and third innings.
Danny Dorn provided insurance for Nuño and the ‘pen with a two-run blast in the sixth.
Relievers Derek Eitel and Matt Reynolds notched three outs apiece, setting up J.C. Ramirez who recorded the final six outs. The trio allowed just one hit combined over the final four innings.
Worth tacked on the Aces' final run, scoring O'Brien with an infield single in the ninth.
De La Rosa allowed just one earned run on four hits over four innings, but Gray (0-1), originally tabbed to be the Isotopes' Opening Day starter, couldn't hang onto a 2-1 lead. The hard-throwing Oklahoma Sooner product surrendered six runs (five earned) in four innings of relief.
Five Aces recorded multi-hit games, led by O'Brien (3-for-5, HR, 3 RBI) and Romak (3-for-5, 2 runs).
O'Brien and Dorn became the first Aces duo to homer on Opening Day. Jeff Bailey (2010), Wily Mo Pena (2011) and Matt Davidson (2013) have also homered on Opening Day for Reno.
With the victory, Reno improved their all-time Opening Day record to 4-3.
Reno continues their four-game series with Albuquerque Friday, April 10, beginning at 6:05 PST. Aces left-hander Robbie Ray is scheduled to start against Isotopes southpaw John Lannan.