Oakland A's MLN: Playoff Races Heat Up

The playoff races in the minor leagues are entering their final two weeks. Some of the Oakland A's affiliates are in the hunt for spots in the post-season, while others are playing the role of spoiler. Thursday evening was a night fraught with playoff implications in the minor leagues. We have the details inside...

Meyer, River Cats Lower Magic Number To Eight

With the playoffs in their sights, the Sacramento River Cats have hit their first significant slump of the season. Coming into Thursday night's game, Sacramento had dropped six of eight games and had seen their lead in the division shrink. Badly needing a win, the River Cats turned to lefty Dan Meyer, who was making his first start since his return from the major leagues. As he has for much of the Triple-A season, Meyer delivered for the River Cats and Sacramento pulled out a 3-2 win over Fresno.

Meyer worked 5.1 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. He struck out six and didn't allow a walk. The win upped his record to 7-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.40 for the season. He gave way to Brad Ziegler with runners on the corners and one-out with Sacramento clinging to a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning. Ziegler came in and induced an inning-ending double-play and then worked two more scoreless innings to bridge the gap between Meyer and closer Jeff Gray. Gray worked an efficient 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his team-high 10th save.

Daric Barton delivered the big blow for the River Cats, hitting a solo homerun in the bottom of the fifth inning that proved to be the winning run in the game. The homer was Barton's ninth of the season and third in the last 11 games. He went 2-3 with two runs scored and a walk in the game. Jorge Piedra had a double and an RBI in the game and he is hitting .332 on the season.

Rockhounds' Bats Silent In Loss

Engaged in a tight race for a wildcard playoff berth, the Midland Rockhounds' offense failed to answer the bell on Thursday, managing only five hits in a 6-0 loss to Corpus Christi. Kevin Deaton went seven innings, but he was hung with his third loss in as many decisions.

Midland managed only two extra-base hits in the game, doubles from Cliff Pennington and Brant Colamarino. Justin Sellers, making his Double-A debut after being promoted from High-A Stockton late last night, went 1-3 with a walk. He played second base while Pennington played shortstop. Both infielders played side-by-side in Stockton at the start of the season.

Deaton was mostly effective in his seven innings of work, but he allowed two homeruns which hurt his cause. In seven innings, Deaton gave-up four runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out five. James Simmons came on in relief of Deaton and he allowed two unearned runs in two innings. He gave up four hits and two walks and he struck out one.

Bailey Dominates As Stockton Wins Second Straight

The Ports' playoff hopes are dim, but they are making an impact on the playoff picture with wins over first-place Modesto in each of the last two days. On Wednesday, it was Brad Davis who turned in a gem for Stockton. On Thursday, it was right-hander Andrew Bailey who dominated the Nuts for Stockton.

Bailey tossed eight strong innings in earning his third win in the California League and the Ports beat the Nuts by a score of 5-2. Bailey allowed only two runs on three hits and no walks in his eight innings. Both runs allowed came on a fourth inning homer by Chris Nelson. Bailey struck out nine in the game. It was a good recovery start for Bailey, who was hammered for seven runs in 5.2 innings in his last outing. Bailey now has 68 strikeouts in 60 innings in High-A this season. In 10 starts for Stockton, Bailey has struck out at least six batters in all but three of those starts.

Lloyd Turner got the start at shortstop in the place of the promoted Justin Sellers and he responded with a big game. Turner went 2-5 with a homer, two RBI and two runs scored. Frank Martinez homered twice for Stockton, his 9th and 10th of the year. Tom Everidge reached base three times and Jon Zeringue added two hits and an RBI for the Ports.

Adam Thomas came on in the ninth inning and nailed down his third save of the season with a scoreless inning. It was his first outing since allowing four runs without recording an out on Sunday evening.

Kane County Sweeps Double-Header Behind Banwart and Heuser

Kane County continued its push for a second-half playoff berth with a double-header sweep of Beloit on Thursday. Travis Banwart threw six shut-out innings in the first game, which was won by Kane County by a score of 2-0. In the nightcap, James Heuser went six strong innings in the Cougars' 6-2 win.

Banwart had his best start of his young professional career. He allowed only three hits and no walks in his six innings. He struck out five and lowered his ERA to 2.41. Sam Demel threw a scoreless inning and he struck out two to earn his second save. Demel hasn't allowed a run in 5.1 innings of work since joining the Kane County staff on August 5. He walked 15 in 14 innings for Stockton, but has not walked a batter in the Midwest League through Thursday.

The Cougars scored both of their runs in the first game in the last inning of regulation, pushing them across in the top of the seventh inning. Alex Valdez and Gustavo Rosendo had RBIs for Kane County. Haas Pratt led the hit column with two.

In the second game, Kane County scored three in the third and one in the fourth and that was all that starter James Heuser would need to earn his 11th win of the season. Greg Dowling (13) and Toddric Johnson (6) each homered for the Cougars. Johnson also doubled. Mike Massaro added two hits, an RBI and two runs scored out of the lead-off spot for the Cougars.

Heuser allowed two runs on five hits and four walks in six innings of work. He had eight strikeouts and he lowered his season ERA to 4.26. Heuser has won five of his last six starts. Eric Sheridan worked a scoreless seventh inning to finish off the game.

Vancouver Damages Boise's Playoff Hopes Again

Vancouver put a hurt on the playoff chances of Boise and moved closer to the .500 mark with a 6-5 win on Thursday. The C's moved to 30-32 on the season after holding on in a game that they once led by a score of 6-1.

Brent Lysander earned his first professional win by working five strong innings. He allowed one unearned run on four hits and two walks. He struck out four and lowered his ERA to 3.69. Leonardo Martinez and Justin Friend each struggled in relief, allowing two runs a piece in one inning of work per pitcher. Lee Land kept Boise at bay, however, working 1.1 scoreless innings to earn his second professional save. Lee has not allowed a run in nine innings of work since joining the C's on August 12. He is 2-0 with two saves in five appearances. He has allowed five hits and four walks and has struck out five.

Corey Brown and Danny Hamblin both had big games once again for Vancouver. Brown launched his 11th homerun and drove-in his 46th and 47th runs of the season for the C's. Hamblin had two hits and two runs scored, including his second triple of the season. He raised his average to .280. Shane Keough added his sixth double of the season and his 13th stolen base. Matt Ray also stole a base, his ninth of the year.

A's Only Three Back After Win

The Rookie League A's moved within three games of first place with a 3-1 win over the Royals. The A's scored all three of their runs in the first inning and had a shut-out broken-up in the ninth inning. Jason Glushon earned his fourth win with six strong innings of work.

Glushon allowed only three hits in six innings. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter. Carlos Hernandez worked two scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit and striking out two. Hernandez struggled during his first two outings with the A's, but he has pitched well after not pitching in game action for two weeks. He has worked 3.1 scoreless innings with four strikeouts in his last two outings. Edgar Tejeda earned his second save when he allowed an unearned run in the ninth inning. He struck out two and allowed two hits.

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