Isotopes lock up PCL division title
Albuquerque is playoff-bound for first time since 2003
Like many Triple-A clubs, Albuquerque has had a revolving door of players this season as transactions have topped 150.
But with all the different jerseys, one thing has remained constant for the Isotopes: winning.
Albuquerque secured the Pacific Coast League American South Division title Sunday with an 8-5 victory over the Memphis Redbirds. The win, combined with second-place Oklahoma City's 2-0 loss to Iowa earlier in the day, secured the second playoff berth in franchise history and the first since 2003.
"Everybody we've had in here has done a great job," first-year Isotopes manager Tim Wallach said. "They've come playing hard and trying to win every night, and that's what we've asked of them.
"What the [Dodgers] organization has stressed is we are trying to win at the Minor League level as well as develop. I think they go hand in hand. If the goal is to win in the big leagues, than that's how you learn. Winning is not something you just start to do."
Wallach knows plenty about winning. A veteran of 17 Major League seasons as a player, he was a five-time National League All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Winner and twice won the Silver Slugger Award.
In his first year at the helm in Albuquerque and just his third managing at any level, his squad (75-61) is closing in on a franchise-record win total.
The Isotopes, who rank third in the PCL with a .449 slugging percentage, are led by Mitch Jones. The big league veteran belted a three-run homer, his 32nd, and pushed his team-leading RBI total to 90 in Sunday's clincher.
Giancarlo Alvarado allowed a run on three hits over six innings for his team-best 12th win. He's ninth in the league with a 3.63 ERA.
Well aware of Oklahoma City's loss before the game, Wallach said the Isotopes' goal was to clinch on their own terms -- with a win -- rather than backing in.
"[The whole season], this is where you look to, this day, hoping that you get the opportunity to celebrate like this," he said. "This is kind of the culmination of 6 1/2 months of hard work. You get to celebrate, and these guys deserve it."
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.