Oakland A's MLN: Opening Day Edition

The Minor League season is now officially underway with Opening Day taking place on Thursday. Kane County got the A's organization off to a good start on Thursday afternoon, but the rest of the A's affiliates were unable to match the Cougars' success. We have the details inside...

Sacramento Blows Late Lead; Loses Opener

An old friend hurt the River Cats late, as Sacramento blew a two-run, eighth inning lead and lost to Portland, 6-4. Former River Cat Jack Cust hit a two-run homer off of set-up man Chris Mabeus in the eighth inning to tie the game at four. Mabeus would go on to allow another run and Santiago Casilla allowed one more to give the Beavers an insurmountable two-run lead going into the ninth.

Before the eighth inning meltdown, the River Cats appeared to be in control of the game. They jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the second inning. Matt Watson, the 2005 River Cats' MVP, crushed a two-run homer to open the scoring. Later in the inning, John Baker hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Daric Barton, giving Sacramento a 3-0 advantage. They would add another run in the fourth, when Mike Rouse hit a two-out single to drive in Doug Clark.

Watson finished the game 1-3 with a homer, two RBI and a walk. Clark and Keith Ginter each had two hits and both were busy on the base-paths, with Clark swiping two bags and Ginter stealing one. Barton went 1-4 in his AAA debut.

On the mound, starter Chad Gaudin was outstanding. He worked five strong innings, allowing only two hits and two walks. He struck out five. Gaudin had only thrown 75 pitches through five, but he was lifted at that point. That decision back-fired, as the River Cats' veteran bullpen was unable to hold the lead.

Randy Keisler came on in the sixth and immediately found trouble. He walked the first batter and then allowed three straight hits, allowing one run in and leaving the bases-loaded. Jason Karnuth came on with the bases juiced and one-out. He walked in a run, but then would escape that inning with no further damage, by inducing an inning-ending double-play. The Sacramento lead was now cut to 4-2 going into the seventh.

Karnuth would walk two more in the seventh, but he worked out of it to post a scoreless inning. Chris Mabeus came on in the eighth in hopes of bridging the gap to closer Santiago Casilla. Mabeus immediately got in hot water by allowing a walk to the lead-off batter and a game-tying homer to Cust. He then allowed a single to Justin Leone and Leone stole second while Mabeus struck out Walter Young.

Casilla came on at this point and tried to keep the game tied. However, he immediately allowed Leone to score on a single and then allowed a second-run on a two-out bloop single. The River Cats were unable to scratch out a run in the ninth despite getting the lead-off man on.

Midland Drops Low Scoring Opener

The vaunted Midland offensive attack failed to generate much run support for starter Jason Windsor on Opening Day, as the Rockhounds fell to Frisco, 4-2. Catcher Kurt Suzuki led the Midland offensive attack, going 2-4 with a walk and an RBI in his AA debut. Outfielder Danny Putnam had a rough opener, going 0-5 with three strikeouts.

The Rockhounds jumped out early, scoring both of their runs in the second inning. Vasili Spanos collected the first of his two walks to start the second inning. Kevin Melillo followed with a single and then Brian Snyder walked to load the bases. After an Eddie Cornejo line-out, Steve Stanley drove in the first Midland run of the season with a grounder to second. Suzuki followed with a two-out RBI single to make the score 2-0. However, Putnam struck out to end the inning and the rally. Midland had a chance to score again in the fourth, but Snyder was cut down at the plate on a throw from the outfield.

On the mound was starter Jason Windsor, who was pitching for the first time since last August, when he was shut down with a tired arm. Windsor out-pitched fellow starter Thomas Diamond, a highly touted Texas prospect who lasted only two innings for Frisco. However, Windsor did allow six hits and four runs in 5.1 innings. He struck out four and walked one. The biggest damage came from the homerun ball, however, as he allowed two solo shots that were the difference in the game.

Connor Robertson had an impressive first outing, relieving Windsor and allowing only a hit in 1.2 innings of work. He struck out two. Jared Burton worked a perfect ninth inning, striking out a batter.

Big Hit Alludes Stockton In Opening Loss

The Stockton Ports collected seven hits and walked five times, but they were unable to string enough base-runners together to score many runs, as they fell to Modesto by a score of 5-2. Myron Leslie had three hits and Gregorio Petit picked up two hits in their Stockton debuts. Catcher Landon Powell went 2-4 with two doubles and an RBI in his return from a year-long absence due to a knee injury.

Two double-plays and a caught stealing contributed to the Ports' inability to score. Stockton also struck out 11 times and left eight runners stranded on-base. Matt Allegra had an eventful night despite not making contact in fair territory, walking twice, striking out twice, stealing a base and scoring a run.

On the mound, Mike Madsen got the call on Opening Night. The Ohio State alum was the ace of the Vancouver rotation last season. He was breezing along in this game until the fourth inning, having allowed only a walk through three. However, with one-out in the fourth, Madsen allowed a walk, a single and a triple in consecutive at-bats, netting Modesto two runs. The damage would have been worse, but right-fielder Richie Robnett threw out a runner at the plate to end the inning.

Madsen worked a scoreless fifth, but then immediately ran into trouble in the sixth when he allowed a lead-off walk. The next batter homered and the Ports were down 4-1. Madsen finished the game with a line of five-plus innings, four runs allowed on three hits and four walks. He struck out three.

Left-hander Ryan Ford relieved Madsen and was very effective. He struck out four and allowed only a hit in two innings of relief. Jeff Muessig pitched the final 1.2 innings and allowed one run on two hits. He struck out two.

Kane County Wins Opener Behind Massaro, Shields

Last season, Kane County struggled out of the gate, especially offensively. If the opener is any indication, the Cougars won't be having those same early season problems this year. Behind a nine-hit attack, Kane County beat the Quad Cities Swing, 6-3.

Lead-off man Mike Massaro sparked the attack, doubling twice, scoring two runs, driving in two and stealing a base. He also reached on an error. Shortstop Justin Sellers also had two hits and two RBI. Second baseman Frank Martinez chipped in two hits, including a double. Catcher Raul Padron drove in the other two runs for the Cougars, despite not getting a hit.

On the mound, Trey Shields earned the win with a solid Opening Day performance. Shields, who pitched with Vancouver last season, threw six innings. He allowed five hits and a walk and three runs. One of the runs came on a solo homerun in the third. Shields was relieved by Brad Davis, who retired all six batters he faced. Steven Sharpe, who struggled last season in Kane County and Stockton, retired the side in order with two strikeouts to earn the first save of the season.

The Cougars were aggressive on the base-paths in 2005, and despite a new manager, Kane County is continuing to push the envelope this year. Massaro and outfielder Jose Pineda each swiped a bag. Their aggressive base-running back-fired in one instance on Thursday, as Jeff Bieker was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a shallow fly-ball by Sellers in the bottom of the fifth.


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