Oakland A's MLN: Ports Off To Winning Start

The Stockton Ports began the second half of their season on a good note, with a 5-2 win over Rancho Cucamonga. The Ports finished the first half of the season in second place and they are looking to take the second half title. If the Ports do make the playoffs, it will be with a different roster than the one that they played with in the first half. We take a look at the Ports inside…

The Stockton Ports finished only four games out of first place during the first half of the season. They missed out on the division title and a guaranteed playoff spot due, in large part, to a slow start to the season. The Ports began the season with four straight losses to eventual first-half title winner, San Jose. The Ports recovered from that slow start, winning seven straight from April 14-21.

Stockton manager Darren Bush was proud of the way his team recovered from that rough beginning.

"I'm happy with the way that they responded from the slow start. They battled back and really competed and put themselves in a good position to win. I was really happy with that. They did a good job," Bush said.

Stockton got off to a good start to the second half of the season with a solid 5-2 win on the road against Rancho Cucamonga. Starter Bobby Cramer, who joined the Ports on May 18, won his third game for the team with five solid innings. He allowed two runs and struck out five while walking none.

Cramer was aided by a strong effort from the Stockton bullpen. T.J. Franco, who joined the team from Kane County on June 11, had his best outing yet for the Ports. He threw two scoreless innings and allowed only a hit and a walk. Leonard Landeros, who returned to Stockton on Thursday after a stint in Triple-A Sacramento, threw a scoreless eighth inning, while all-star closer Patrick Currin threw a perfect ninth inning for his seventh save in seven tries.

A number of newcomers were featured in the Ports' starting line-up on Thursday. Lloyd Turner, who has spent most of the past two months in Sacramento, returned to Stockton on Thursday. He hit in the lead-off spot and played third base. Catcher David Castillo also joined the team on Thursday and he started behind the plate and went 1-3 with an RBI.

Stockton regulars Chad Boyd (2-4), Tom Everidge (2-4, HR) and Raul Padron (2-4, HR) all had good games for the Ports.

In addition to Landeros and Turner, the Ports added reliever Dan Denham from Double-A Midland. Over the All-Star break, Stockton said good-by to All-Star catcher Anthony Recker, shortstop Cliff Pennington, reliever Adam Thomas and starter Trent Peterson.

With Pennington's promotion, infielder Justin Sellers will slide back to shortstop after spending much of the first half playing at second base. Sellers is a natural shortstop. Infielder Isaac Omura, who was promoted to Stockton from Kane County at the end of May, should see more playing time during the second half, according to Bush.

Bush has been impressed with the development of Sellers, who is the youngest position player on the team. Sellers had a rough start to his season, batting only .213 and struggling on defense. He picked up the pace in May and June, batting .260 during those two months and smoothing out his defense.

"The first half of the year, Sellers was really trying to learn how to handle himself at a higher level. He's done a great job of learning how to play, adjusting to the level, adjusting at the plate and as well as on defense," Bush said.

Another young player who has gone through a lot of development this season in Stockton is starter Vince Mazzaro. Mazzaro has fluctuated between dominating starts and struggling. In 14 starts, Mazzaro is 6-7 with a 5.26 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 77 innings. Bush believes Mazzaro is close to finding that consistency that will bring his game to the next level.

"He'll have one inning where he'll struggle and he'll pitch six innings that are clean. In his last start, he gave up four runs in one inning. The start before, he gave up five in one inning, and the rest of the start, he dominates," Bush said.

"He is just getting over the hump of making sure he stays focused and avoids the one big inning when it all unravels. But he's doing a good job overall."

Other Transactions Around The System:
In addition to the transactions reported above and previously on this site, the A's made a number of additional roster moves on Wednesday and Thursday. Below are the various moves:

* IF Gregorio Petit promoted from Double-A Midland to Triple-A Sacramento. Petit was named to the Texas League All-Star team and was batting .306 at the time of his promotion.

* RP Ryan Meaux promoted from Double-A Midland to Triple-A Sacramento. The former Cardinals farmhand had made six appearances for the Rockhounds after being acquired on June 9.

* P Shane Komine sent back to Sacramento from Oakland. Komine didn't appear in a game during his three days in the big leagues. He was replaced on the A's roster by Rich Harden.

* C Casey Myers and 3B Jeff Baisley (knee) placed on Double-A DL. Myers is batting .329 in 21 games and Baisley is hitting .288 with nine homers in 64 games.

* OF Matt Sulentic sent from Kane County to Vancouver. Sulentic hit .354 for the Canadians last season, but was struggling at Kane County this year to the tune of a .175 batting average in 56 games.

* 1B Sean Doolittle joins Vancouver. The A's second pick joined the Canadians on Wednesday, going 3-5 during his debut.

* OF Corey Brown joins Vancouver. The A's third pick joined the Canadians on Wednesday and he went 2-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored during his debut.

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