El Paso, TX – After a seemingly comfortable five-run lead evaporated and created a tense contest, Jimmy Herron once again had an answer. The Isotopes do-it-all star crushed a go-ahead home run to start the ninth inning, and the blast held up for the decisive margin in Albuquerque’s 9-8 victory over El Paso Thursday evening.
Trailing 8-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth, the Chihuahuas got back in it thanks to a mix of walks, bloop singles and a big blast. Former New Mexico State standout Daniel Johnson belted a three-run shot to tie it.
Right-handed pitcher Stephen Jones walked the leadoff batter in the ninth, but retired the next three hitters without letting the tying run reach scoring position.
Despite the dramatic victory, the Isotopes saw their playoff elimination number drop to six as first-place Las Vegas swept a doubleheader from Round Rock on Thursday afternoon. Nine contests remain in the season.
Topes Scope: - The Isotopes have won the first three contests of a series for the second time this season. They also accomplished the feat at Oklahoma City three weeks ago, when they went on to claim the first five. Additionally, this marks the 26th time in club history Albuquerque has emerged victorious in the first three games of a road set. 16 of the occurrences came from 2003-08 when the team was affiliated with Florida.
- Albuquerque remains undefeated in September contests at Southwest University Park (7-0). They swept the final four games of 2016 at El Paso from Sept. 2-5 before emerging victorious in the first three this week.
- The Isotopes tallied seven extra-base hits, their 11th time with at least seven. The visitors also racked up six doubles, one off their season-high set May 16 vs. Tacoma.
- Albuquerque drew 11 walks, tied for the second-most in a game (fourth time it has taken place). Their most this year was a baker’s dozen on May 3 vs. Sugar Land.
- Tonight was the 11th contest in which the Isotopes pitching staff walked nine or more batters and first since September 6 vs. Reno (10). It was the first time it has happened against El Paso.
- 20 combined free passes between the clubs were the second-most for Albuquerque and their opponent this season. Oklahoma City issued 11 walks on April 19 while the Isotopes surrendered 10 for a total of 21.
- El Paso recorded a pair of extra-base hits, the 42nd time Albuquerque has limited the opposition to two or fewer and the 22nd the number has been exactly two.
- The five-run eighth inning by El Paso marked the 38th instance of Isotopes pitching relenting five or more tallies in a frame this season.
- Albuquerque has scored first in four consecutive road contests for the second trip in a row (Aug. 29-Sept. 1 at Sacramento).
- The Isotopes improved to 13-17 in one-run games, and 5-9 on the road. They have won all four contests decided by one run against the Chihuahuas in 2023.
- Tonight was the second time Albuquerque allowed a game-tying, three-run homer in the eighth inning at Southwest University Park this season, but they have still won both times. Luis Liberato clobbered a blast on April 11 before the Isotopes rallied for a 13-12 triumph.
- The contest took three hours and 41 minutes to complete, Albuquerque’s longest nine-inning game time since June 29, 2021 vs. Tacoma (3:56).
- Herron’s homer was the 25th go-ahead hit in the seventh inning or later by an Isotopes player in 2023. It was his third (April 8 vs. Salt Lake; July 30 vs. Sacramento) and the first for Albuquerque since Willie MacIver in the 10th on Sept. 3 at Sacramento.
- Herron was on base three times, via the homer and two walks. He scored a pair of runs, putting him at 101, leapfrogging Scott Seabol for third place in single-season Isotopes history. Herron joins Seabol, Joc Pederson and Sam Hilliard as the only Albuquerque players to cross the century mark. Hilliard’s 109 runs scored in 2019 is the current record.
- Overall, Herron has reached base in 52 of his last 56 contests dating back to June 25. He has compiled a slash line of .348/.466/.572 with 16 doubles, a triple, nine homers, 42 RBI, 41 walks and 24 stolen bases in 26 attempts during the stretch.
- Wynton Bernard was 2-for-6 with an RBI double, his 30th multi-effort in 58 contests since rejoining Albuquerque on June 30. Bernard’s eight-game hitting streak is one shy of his longest with the Isotopes in 2023 (July 21-30).
- Coco Montes finished with three hits for the eighth time this season. Overall, he has 11 contests with a trio or more knocks and leads the ballclub with 44 multi-hit performances. Montes is slashing .348/.400/.621 with 10 doubles, a triple, eight long balls and 30 RBI in his last 31 contests dating back to July 25.
- Daniel Montaño continued his remarkable late-season surge with an RBI double in the opening frame. Since July 25, he is slashing .308/.390/.635 with six doubles, five triples, six homers and 28 runs batted in. Montaño has raised his batting average from .189 to .244 during the span. Additionally, the left-handed batter has 14 RBI in his last seven contests.
- Aaron Schunk delivered a clutch two-out, two-run double in the fourth. It was Schunk’s lone hit of the contest, but he has eight RBI in 10 games this month after only picking up nine in all of August.
- Willie MacIver finished 3-for-4 with a double and walk, his first three-hit performance (non-rehab game) since Sept. 3, 2022 for Double-A Hartford vs. Reading. MacIver is 8-for-15 with a trio of extra-base hits in his last four ballgames.
- Albuquerque stole two bases (Montaño, Montes) giving them 158 for the campaign, seven away from tying the 2013 club for the second-most in franchise history. It was their 40th contest with multiple swipes this season and 29 have taken place in the second half.
- Isotopes starter Jeff Criswell lasted five innings, allowing four hits and three runs while walking three and fanning six. He now has 130 strikeouts for the season, vaulting into fifth place on the club’s all-time leaderboard for a single campaign. Criswell is one punchout shy from tying Matt Palmer (4th, 131 in 2013) and nine away from reaching Giancarlo Alvarado (3rd, 139 in 2009).
- Criswell has now allowed 100 earned runs in 2023, second-worst by an Albuquerque hurler in a single season. Bobby Keppel surrendered 106 in 2008. Additionally, Criswell’s 69 walks tie Chris Seddon (2008) for second-most by an Isotopes pitcher, behind Ryan Castellani’s 71 in 2021.
- Criswell threw 103 pitches, 28 of which were fouled off. It marked the eighth time an Albuquerque hurler eclipsed the century mark this season, and third in the last four contests (Tanner Gordon on Sunday, Noah Davis yesterday). Criswell’s 109 offerings on July 6 at Oklahoma City remains the season-high for anyone.
- Stephen Jones recorded his second Triple-A save. He has made seven appearances since returning from Hartford and kept the opposition off the board in five of them.
- Eli Lingos worked 1.2 scoreless frames without permitting a hit. It was the ninth time he has recorded at least four outs and did not allow a run this season.
- Kyle Johnston took the mound to warm up in the eighth inning but left due to an apparent injury before throwing a pitch.
On Deck: Albuquerque will look to keep its faint playoff hopes alive on Friday evening. Right-handed pitcher Connor Seabold is slated to start for the Isotopes against fellow righty Joel Espada. First pitch from El Paso is set for 6:35 pm MT.