Oakland A's MLN: Down Day For Playoff Teams

The Oakland A's began the minor league playoff season with four teams in the hunt for championships. One team has already been eliminated and the other three had set-backs on Friday night. Find out the details inside this edition of Oakland A's Minor League Notebook…

Sacramento Falls, But Still Just One Win Away

The fans at Raley Field were set for a celebration, but the party was put on hold for a day when the Tacoma Rainiers beat the Sacramento River Cats, 7-4. The River Cats jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but they lost the lead in the third and fell behind for good in the sixth. Sacramento now has a 2-1 series lead in this best of five series and will attempt to close out the series again on Saturday.

There weren't a lot of offensive highlights for the River Cats, but what highlights there were mostly came from Jack Cust. Cust, who was the DH on Friday, has been absolutely raking this post-season. The husky left-handed hitter went 3-4 with a two-run, first-inning homerun and two singles. Cust is hitting a robust .667 in the series. Hiram Bocachica has returned from the disabled list with a vengeance. The utilityman has been one of the River Cats' best hitters this post-season and he had another good game on Friday. Bocachica went 1-3 with a walk and two runs scored. He is hitting .500 in the post-season.

The River Cats were felled by poor fielding and inconsistent pitching on Friday. Sacramento made three errors, as Charles Thomas, John Baker and Jermaine Clark each had errors. Clark's error and a passed ball by Baker helped lead to two ninth inning runs for the Rainiers. The runs were particularly heartbreaking, as Sacramento had pulled within one run in the bottom of the eighth. Mike Saipe was hung with the loss after he allowed four runs in 5.1 innings of work.

Midland Falls, Series Tied At 2

The Midland Rockhounds also had a chance to finish off their series on Friday, but they fell to San Antonio. The loss forces a decisive game five. Midland led by a run after the first inning, but lost that lead in the fourth and fell behind by three in the fifth. They would eventually fall, 5-1. Steven Bondurant earned the loss by allowing three runs in 4.2 innings of work. Relievers Marcus Gwyn and Kyle Crowell each allowed a run.

The Rockhounds managed only five hits. Danny Putnam had one of the hits. He doesn't seem to be having any growing pains at the plate at AA, as he is hitting .375 for Midland. Jason Perry was the only hitter to reach base twice, and he reached only on walks. Brian Stavisky was the Rockhounds' star of the night. Stavisky drove in Midland's only run with a sacrifice fly and he threw out a runner at second base from left field. Midland and San Antonio will square off in a "winner takes all" game on Saturday at 5:00 pm PST.

Vancouver Drops Series Opener

The Canadians lost the first game of their Northwest League playoff series, 6-1, to Spokane. The C's allowed five runs over the first three innings and were never really in the game after that. Starter Jeff Gray allowed five runs (four earned) over three innings of work. Reliever Ron Madej was a pitching bright spot for the C's, throwing three shut-out innings.

The Canadians offense was mostly silent, as they managed only one unearned run. The team managed only eight hits and Chad Boyd had three of them from the lead-off spot. Jeff Baisley also had two hits. Jose Garcia had the team's only extra-base hit with a double. Vancouver will square off with Spokane again on Saturday.

Other Notes:

-- Sacramento reliever Ron Flores was recalled to Oakland for a third time this season on Friday. The lefty had an excellent year for the River Cats, compiling a 2.39 ERA over 52 appearances. He struck out 66 in 60 innings of work. Flores has appeared in six games for Oakland this year and he has a 1.69 ERA over 5.1 innings. Flores has three major league strike outs and no walks this season. He'll be a second lefty in the bullpen while Joe Kennedy pitches in the A's starting rotation.

-- The Stockton Ports were eliminated from the playoffs on Thursday with a second loss to Modesto. Ironically, the Ports were knocked out by the team who was the A's California League affiliate last season. Because of the switch in affiliations, Modesto has a chance to defend their California League title, even though the A's organization no longer has the opportunity to do so.

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