Oakland A's MLN: Sportman, Burns Remain Hot

One Oakland A's affiliate played a double-header to make up for a cancelled game, while another saw a game suspended and a double-header scheduled. We run down all of the day's action within the A's system.

Sounds Lose in Extras

One night after pulling out a win in the 10th inning, the Nashville Sounds found themselves on the reverse side of a 10th inning decision. Kiki Hernandez singled with the bases-loaded and one-out in the bottom of the 10th against Nashville’s Kevin Whelan to give the Oklahoma City Dodgers a 6-5 win.

The game began much the same way that many AL West battles started in the early 2000s with left-hander Barry Zito and right-hander Freddy Garcia squaring off on the mound. Unlike back in those days, neither Zito or Garcia were dominant on Wednesday.

The Sounds jumped all over Garcia, scoring three times in the first and twice in the second to open up a big lead. Garcia would leave the game after those two innings, giving way to left-hander Rudy Owens, who spent spring training with the A’s. Owens was traded to the Dodgers at the end of spring training. He tossed four scoreless innings against his “former” team.

Zito fared better than Garcia, but he allowed the Dodgers to get back into the game. He gave-up two runs in the bottom of the second and one in the third. Zito lasted into the sixth inning, when he allowed a run and left with two-out and a runner on base. Brock Huntzinger stranded Zito’s runner and then pitched a scoreless seventh inning. Zito struck-out five and walked two. He threw 54 strikes in 88 pitches.

The Sounds held a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth when the Dodgers scored a tying run off of Fernando Rodriguez. Whelan pitched a scoreless ninth, but then allowed the walk-off hit in the 10th.

Billy Burns’ early season assault on PCL pitching continued on Wednesday. He doubled, tripled and walked and scored twice. Burns is batting .379 with a 1059 OPS in 29 official at-bats. Joey Wendle drove home Burns in the first inning and then added two more RBI in the second on his second triple of the season. He has a 1090 OPS in 32 official at-bats this season. Jason Pridie had three hits in five at-bats and Kent Matthes had a two-RBI single in the first.

The Sounds (4-3) have one more game in Oklahoma City before returning home for their first series in the brand-new First Tennessee Park.

Stockton Splits a Double-Header Versus Lancaster

After seeing Tuesday’s game cancelled on account of wind, the Stockton Ports and the Lancaster JetHawks played two games on Wednesday. The Ports travel north after Game Two for the start of their first homestand of the season.

In Game One, Stockton starter Dylan Covey had a rough outing in a 5-1 Ports’ loss. The right-hander was very sharp on Opening Night, but he was missing location – and often the strike-zone – on Wednesday. In 4.1 innings, Covey walked three, struck-out just one and gave-up six hits and five runs. He did record eight groundouts and no flyouts, so his misses were mostly down in the strike-zone, a good sign in general.

The Ports’ offense was quiet in Game One. They managed just three hits, all three of which came from the top three hitters in the line-up – J.P. Sportman, Franklin Barreto and John Nogowski. Michael Soto drove home the Ports’ only run of the game. The Ports did draw five walks, with Branden Cogswell leading the way with two. Through five games played, Cogswell has six walks and an OBP close to .500.

In Game Two, the Ports’ bats came alive, as they broke open a 1-1 game with two runs in the fifth and then four more in the seventh to secure a 7-3 win over the JetHawks.

Sportman’s hot bat carried over into Game Two, when he added two more hits, another walk and two runs scored. He also stole his first base of the year. Barreto had a triple and a bunt single and three RBI, while Soto showed off his wheels with a triple and a stolen base. He and Nogowski each had two hits. Chih-Fang Pan also had a triple, giving the Ports three in the game.

It was a bullpen game for the Ports. Three relievers combined to go the seven innings in the win. Andres Avila got the start and allowed a run in 2.1 innings. He was followed by Jonathan Joseph, who tossed 2.2 scoreless innings, striking out three. Brendan McCurry earned the save, although he allowed single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. McCurry allowed four hits and a walk and he struck-out two.

The Ports return to Stockton for their first homestand with a 3-4 record. They will send Kyle Finnegan to the mound against the Visalia Oaks in Thursday’s home opener.

Snappers Home Opener Suspended

A lighting malfunction brought the Beloit Snappers’ home opener to an early end. With the game tied at 2 in the bottom of the fifth, a lighting issue in the stadium made it unsafe for the game to continue. The Snappers and Quad Cities River Bandits will continue their game at 4:30 CST tomorrow and will then play a second game 30 minutes after the completion of Wednesday’s game. The second game will be seven innings, per league rules.

Looking to snap a five-game losing streak, the Snappers got on the board first with single runs in the first and the third. Starter Brett Graves had a shutout going into the fourth, when he allowed a game-tying, two-run double to Ryan Bottger. Graves had a solid second outing for Beloit. He was through five innings when the lights went out. In those five frames, he allowed two runs on six hits. He struck-out six and walked none.

Max Kuhn and Joe Bennie drove-in the runs for Beloit. Bennie had an RBI groundout and a walk, while Kuhn had an RBI single in two at-bats. Sandber Pimentel, Brett Vertigan and Edwin Diaz all had a hit in two at-bats. The game will resume with Snappers’ number nine hitter Argenis Raga coming to the plate for his second at-bat.

Rehab Update

Third baseman and 2014 first-round pick Matt Chapman had a couple of at-bats in the A’s extended spring training game on Wednesday. Between innings, he would run from the first base dugout to the right field pole and back. Chapman is working his way back from an LCL sprain in his left knee.

Midland Off

The Midland RockHounds were off on Wednesday. They resume their season on Thursday, when Chris Jensen squares off against Northwest Arkansas.

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