Sacramento Fights Back From The Brink
Down 0-2 in a best-of-five series, the Sacramento River Cats swept all three games at home versus the Reno Aces this weekend, advancing to the Pacific Coast League finals. They will take on the Omaha Storm Chasers. If Sacramento wins the series, it will be the River Cats' fifth PCL title.
After losing the first two games of the series in Reno, the River Cats needed to win out for the rest of the series. As it turned out, they barely broke a sweat in dispatching the Aces. The River Cats won 5-2 on Friday night, 8-2 on Saturday night and 13-2 on Sunday afternoon.
Sacramento has received plenty of offensive firepower thus far this post-season. Slugger Chris Carter leads all PCL batters with three post-season homeruns. He has also collected six hits and five walks in five games and has a 1361 OPS. Catcher/infielder Josh Donaldson went 4-5 in the decisive Game 5 and is batting .455 overall with a 1288 OPS. Infielder Wes Timmons has seven hits in 20 at-bats (.350 BA) and outfielder Jermaine Mitchell has seven hits and four walks in 22 at-bats (.400 OBP). Grant Green, recently promoted from Double-A for the playoffs, hit .571 during the series.
On the hill, starters Travis Banwart, Carlos Hernandez and Lenny DiNardo earned wins over the weekend. DiNardo had his best start of the season on Sunday in the clincher, allowing two runs on three hits over seven innings.
Sacramento won all three at home despite losing two top performers to promotions to Oakland over the weekend. Catcher Landon Powell and outfielder Jai Miller received September call-ups to Oakland. Miller was added to the 40-man roster, taking the spot vacated by reliever Jason Rice when he was claimed on waivers by the Cleveland Indians last week.
The River Cats begin their push for the title on Tuesday in Omaha. They return to Raley Field on Friday.
Stockton Eliminates Modesto, Tied 1-1 With San Jose
The Stockton Ports routed the Modesto Nuts by a score of 10-4 on Friday to eliminate Modesto and move on to the California League North Division Finals versus San Jose. The Ports and Giants have split the first two games of the best-of-five series thus far.
Outfielders Mitchell LeVier, Rashun Dixon, Conner Crumbliss and Michael Choice have been pacing the Stockton offense. LeVier and Choice have homered twice, while Dixon and Crumbliss have eight hits and two walks in five games.
A.J. Griffin gets his second start of the post-season tonight in Stockton. He allowed two runs on five hits and struck-out nine in his first playoff outing. Daniel Straily and Murphy Smith also pitched well in the starter's role for the Ports. Straily didn't allow a run in six innings, striking out seven, while Smith allowed one run on three hits in eight innings, striking out six.
Josh Whitaker, the team MVP for the Burlington Bees and a Midwest League post-season All-Star, has joined the Ports' roster for the remainder of the post-season.
If the Ports advance past the Giants, they will take on the Southern Division Champion for the California League title. The Ports last won a Cal League championship in 2008.
Bees and Lake Monsters Head Home
After strong seasons, the Oakland A's Low-A and short-season affiliates both lost decisive Game Threes and saw their playoff runs end on Friday night.
The Burlington Bees dropped a tight game to the Kane County Cougars, losing 3-2 to end their season. Josh Whitaker led the Bees offensively during the series, collecting four hits and a walk in 10 official plate appearances.
The Vermont Lake Monsters also lost a decisive Game Three on Friday night, dropping a 7-2 decision to the Auburn Doubledays.