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December 21, 2014

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51s adjusting to other Las Vegas weather trademark: heavy winds

Sacramento ace Dan Straily dominates in River Cats win

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Christopher DeVargas

Players from the Las Vegas 51’s look out from the dugout during their opening game against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox at Cashman Field, Friday April 12, 2013.

Many of the Las Vegas 51s players are still adjusting to their new surroundings in Las Vegas. But that’s not including the fast-approaching dog days of summer featuring 100-plus degree temperatures.

Instead, the 51s are adapting to the other Las Vegas weather phenomenon that can affect a game — blustering winds.

On Monday, the 25 mph gust played a major factor as the 51s committed six errors in a loss to the Colorado Sky Sox.

“We let the elements affect us last night with the wind and the dirt blowing all over us,” manager Wally Backman said.

The unpredictable wind played another factor in Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento River Cats. While the wind was blowing out of the park Monday, on Tuesday it was blowing in, meaning well-hit balls had a chance of staying in the park.

“You have to use some of that to your advantage,” Backman said. “We're here more often than anywhere else. We need to use that stuff for ourselves.”

Even with the wind in the 51s favor, it still wasn’t enough to beat a fine performance by Dan Straily.

Straily went seven innings, allowing one run on four hits. He struck out seven to pick up his second win at the Triple-A level with a 2-1 victory at Cashman Field.

The three combined runs — with zero home runs — were a welcome change from the 57 runs scored in the past four games at Cashman, thanks to a 10 mph wind keeping balls in the park.

“The last seven home runs that were hit here for the last two or three days, six of them were just pop-ups on a normal day,” Backman said.

Natural, uncontrollable things aside, many of the Las Vegas 51s players are still trying to adjust to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

Batters are trying to be more aggressive. Pitchers are making adjustments as well.

“It's a bigger adjustment for the pitching staff than the offense. The offense is going to have bigger numbers,” Backman said. “Unfortunately the pitcher staff will have a higher ERA. They have to learn from this.”

Josh Satin is one player who is seemingly making the adjustment just fine.

He started the season hitting .383 with four home runs with five multiple-hit outings in the first 12 games.

“It eases the tension a little bit,” said Satin, who went 1-for-3 against the River Cats. “When things are going well early, it helps you relax over the course of a season.”

Satin isn’t overly concerned about the 51s' recent string of losses (four of the last five), as the offense has shown flashes of being potent.

“We have 12 guys who have been successful in the high-level minor leagues,” Satin said. “We've got guys who aren't having good starts who are good hitters. When everyone puts it together, we'll be great.”

Paul Delos Santos can be reached at 990-2416 or [email protected]. Follow Paul on Twitter at twitter.com/pauliedelos

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