Power, Pitching Lead Way For River Cats
Sacramento has been looking for some pitching stability, especially in their starting rotation. They got some help on Monday evening, when Midland ace Jason Windsor was promoted to AAA. However, the biggest boost to the Sacramento pitching staff came on Tuesday, with the return of their best pitcher, Chad Gaudin.
Gaudin, who had spent the previous two weeks pitching out of the Oakland A's bullpen, left the River Cats with a sparkling 0.52 ERA. His absence was felt heavily, as the River Cats fell to 13-17 in his absence. After a solid 3-1 win on Monday, the River Cats made it two in a row with a 6-3 win behind Gaudin.
The right-hander worked seven sparkling innings, allowing only one earned run. He struck out 10 and walked none while giving up three hits. Despite the great effort, Gaudin's ERA actually went up to 0.74. He is now 3-0 on the season. Santiago Casilla earned his third save with a perfect ninth. The fireballer struck out one and now has 15 strikeouts and four walks in 16.2 innings of work.
On the offensive side of the ball, the River Cats used the long-ball to support Gaudin. Matt Watson launched his fifth homerun of the season, a two-run blast in the fifth to give the River Cats a 4-3 lead. The red-hot Nate Espy would give the River Cats their final two runs with his first AAA homerun of the season, a two-run shot in the seventh.
Watson was one of five River Cats with multi-hit games. Mike Rouse led the way with three hits (and three runs scored) and Watson, Daric Barton, Brian Stavisky and Mark Kiger each had two a piece. Barton's two hits included a double and broke a 1-24 slide. Stavisky's two hits brought his average up to .258. He has raised it almost 100 points over the past 10 days.
Midland Breaks Out Bats; Knox Rediscovers Command
Brad Knox's return to the rotation didn't start off well, but it ended on a very positive note. Knox had been demoted to the bullpen after a rough start that saw him tagged with an ERA over 8.00. He got a second chance to start on Tuesday, thanks to the departure of Jason Windsor to AAA. In the first inning, it didn't look like his return was going to last long. Knox allowed three runs in the first inning, including a solo homerun to Tulsa, putting his team in an early hole. However, the Rockhounds would come back with three of their own in the bottom of the inning, and it was all uphill from there for Knox.
After allowing five hits in the first two innings of the game, Knox would allow only one hit over his final three frames. He struck out seven batters and didn't walk a batter. That is the type of control he displayed in 2004, when he starred for Kane County and struck out 174 and walked only 24. Knox has struck out 21 and has walked 10 in 28 innings this season.
Knox had plenty of support from the powerful Midland offense. Clean-up hitter Vasili Spanos launched his team-leading fifth homer of the year in the first inning, a three-run shot. Spanos has 24 RBI on the season. Kevin Melillo followed that up with a solo homerun in the fourth inning, his second of the season and of the past seven days. Melillo's homerun was the first of three in the fourth inning. Lloyd Turner hit his third of the season with one-out in the fourth and Danny Putnam added his second of the year with two-outs in the inning. Jason Perry would add his fourth of the year in the eighth inning, a two-run blast.
Putnam and Perry each had two hits and Turner had a perfect night, going 3-3 with that homer and a walk. Brian Snyder was the only Rockhound not to get a hit, but he walked three times and scored a run. Snyder is hitting only .205 this season, but he has a .358 on-base percentage and 20 walks in 27 games. Turner has shown surprising power this season and he is sporting a .427 slugging percentage. Perry pushed his average back over the .400 mark and is at .406 for the year.
Stockton Drops Heart-Breaker In 10; Madsen Shines
Stockton almost gave the A's system a perfect day, but they couldn't hold a one-run lead in the ninth and they succumbed to Lake Elsinore in ten innings. Starter Mike Madsen got stuck with a tough-luck no-decision after Mike Mitchell blew a save in the ninth. Madsen went six innings, allowing only one run on five hits. He struck out seven and walked none. Madsen lowered his ERA to 3.96. He has struck out 26 and has walked seven in 25 innings pitched this season.
Newly re-activated reliever Brad Sullivan relieved Madsen in the seventh and although he allowed a number of base-runners, he managed to keep the runs off of the board. Sullivan allowed four hits and one walk in 1.2 innings pitched, but he benefited from some good defense, as Landon Powell defused a rally in the seventh by catching a runner trying to steal third. In the eighth, Sullivan induced a 6-4-3 double-play. He left with two-runners on in the eighth, but Mitchell was able to work out of the rally with no runs.
Mitchell would run into trouble in the ninth, however, as he tried to protect a 2-1 lead. With one-out and a runner on first, Powell had a passed ball, allowing Lake Elsinore's Skip Adams move to second. Mitchell struck out the next batter, but the runner reached when the third strike got by Powell again. With runners on the corners, Mitchell induced a groundball to second, but the Ports just missed a double-play and the tying run scored. Mitchell allowed two runs in the tenth to give Lake Elsinore their final margin of victory.
On offense, the Ports managed nine hits, including two by Gregorio Petit. One of those two hits was a double and he raised his average to .254. Shortstop Cliff Pennington began the day with a hit – his fifth in the past two days – and stole second soon after, but he came up lame later in the inning and left the game with a leg injury.
Kane County Hits Lucky Seven; Mazzaro Back On-Track
After a couple of rough outings had inflated his ERA to an unsightly 7.24 mark, Vince Mazzaro came into Tuesday's game with something to prove. He righted the ship against Lansing, throwing five solid innings to earn his third win of the season. He struck out four, walked one and allowed one earned run. In the game, the Kane County pitching staff allowed only one walk and struck out 11.
Mazzaro had plenty of run support, as the Cougars racked up 14 hits and eight runs. Seven of those runs came in the top of the fifth inning to give the Cougars an insurmountable 8-1 lead. Nick Blasi led the offensive attack with a double, a triple and two RBI. The Wichita State product is hitting .278 on the year and the triple was his fourth of the season.
Jeff Baisley, Anthony Recker, Wes Long and Justin Sellers each had two hits. Sellers' 2-4 day with a double and two runs scored broke him out of an extended slump that had caused his average to fall to .224. He now sits at .234. Long added two stolen bases, his fifth and sixth of the season.
Mike Massaro and Jose Pineda extended their hitting streaks to five games each. The Cougars are 18-14 on the season.
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