Sacramento Notebook: In A Familiar Position

The Sacramento River Cats have made winning the Pacific Coast League's Pacific South division title a yearly tradition. Through the first month of the season, Sacramento is on pace to extend that tradition through the 2011 season. We take a look at the River Cats' season thus far and have photos from recent game action in Sacramento inside...

Team Overview

Although they lost on Sunday, the Sacramento River Cats find themselves on Monday, May 2nd, in a familiar spot at the top of the Pacific Coast League's Pacific South division. With a 14-10 record, the River Cats currently hold a two-game lead over the Fresno Grizzles. The River Cats are 6-4 over their last 10 games and they are returning home after a brief one-city, four-game roadtrip. Sacramento went 3-1 on the trip.

Sacramento's pitching staff sits in the top half of the PCL with a team 4.40 ERA, which ranks fifth in the league. River Cats' pitchers lead the league in strike-outs with 203 in 219 innings and they have walked only 85, tied for fifth-fewest in the league. Sacramento hurlers have also done an excellent job of keeping the ball in the park (18 homeruns allowed).

As a unit, the River Cats are a middle-of-the pack offensive team. Their .271 team average ranks them 10th in the league, while their 798 OPS is seventh-best in the PCL. Sacramento leads the league with 126 walks and has a .371 team OBP. They also lead the league in strike-outs with 198. The River Cats are tied for fourth in the league in homers with 24 and seventh in the league with 24 stolen bases (in 29 chances).

Comings and Goings

Over the past few years, the River Cats' clubhouse has been something of a revolving door thanks to the multitude of injured players on the A's major league roster. There have been a handful of roster moves already this season, although the pace of the transactions has been relatively slow.

Before the minor league season even started, Sacramento lost its Opening Day starter when Tyson Ross was promoted to Oakland to replace injured reliever Michael Wuertz. Ross has remained on the A's roster since the first weekend of the major league season and he is now a member of the A's starting rotation.

Graham Godfrey and Bobby Cramer have joined the River Cats' rotation since the start of the season. Godfrey, who spent much of last year with Sacramento, began the 2011 season with Double-A Midland, but he made only one start with the Rockhounds before being promoted to Triple-A. Cramer was on the A's major league roster until this past week, when he was sent down when Wuertz returned from the disabled list. Cramer made his first start over the weekend. Gary Daley, Jr. has had two stints with the River Cats, making two spot starts. He has been with the High-A Stockton Ports otherwise and is currently with Stockton.

Reliever Daniel Farquhar was with the River Cats for the first two weeks of the season before he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. He was replaced on Sacramento's roster by Joey Devine, who missed 10 days to be with his wife and newborn baby.

On the offensive-side of the ledger, the River Cats haven't lost any players to promotion, but they have had losses to the disabled list. Slugger Chris Carter was placed on the DL on April 23 with a sprained left thumb. He was replaced on the roster by Shane Peterson, who was promoted from Double-A. Infielder Wes Timmons has been on the DL since April 14 with an ankle sprain. Mitch Canham has taken his spot on the roster.

Who's Hot

Not many have been hotter in the entire Pacific Coast League lately than Sacramento outfielder Jai Miller, who was the league's Player of the Week for the week of April 18. Miller has a .318 average and a 1159 OPS this season and is batting .342 with a 1343 OPS over his last 10 games.

Infielder Adrian Cardenas leads the team with a .353 batting average. Despite being a left-handed hitter, Cardenas has been lethal versus southpaws, batting .424 in 33 at-bats.

Second baseman Jemile Weeks is currently nursing a minor injury, but he has been a sparkplug for the River Cats in the lead-off spot. In 19 games, Weeks is hitting .333 with a 986 OPS. He has four doubles, three triples and two homers and has walked 14 times.

Catcher Anthony Recker has flown under-the-radar while putting up good numbers for the River Cats the past two seasons, but he may be raising his profile with a strong showing in the early part of this season. In 18 games, Recker has a .328 average with a 994 OPS. Ten of his 21 hits have gone for extra bases.

Outfielder Matt Carson has battled a sore back, but has put up his usual strong numbers for the River Cats. In 19 games, Carson is batting an even .300 with 13 RBIs and three homeruns.

Despite starting the season in Double-A, Graham Godfrey has been the River Cats' top starter. In four starts, he has a 2.66 ERA and a 3-0 record. The right-hander has struck-out 21 and has walked only five in 23.2 innings. He has yet to allow a homer.

Right-handed reliever Willie Eyre has been a valuable longman in the Sacramento bullpen. In nine appearances, he has pitched 18.1 innings and he has allowed only two earned runs. Eyre has 18 strike-outs and has allowed only nine hits.

Fellow right-handed relievers Trystan Magnuson and Vinnie Chulk have also been effective for Sacramento. Magnuson, acquired in the Rajai Davis trade this past off-season, has two saves, a 2.03 ERA and 15 strike-outs in 13.1 innings. He has walked seven, but has given up only seven hits. Chulk has a 2.84 ERA and 14 strike-outs against only two walks in 12.2 innings pitched. He has given up nine hits.

Since returning from family leave, Joey Devine has been lights out for Sacramento. In five appearances, Devine has already racked up two wins. He has yet to allow an earned run and has given up only two hits and no walks in 6.1 innings (although he has hit two batters). Devine has struck-out nine and has maintained velocities in the low-90s while touching the mid-90s on occasion. Devine is working his way back after missing the last two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Recent Photos

Below are some recent photos of the River Cats in action. All photos by James Venes.

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