Kirk Saarloos had a strong start, the River Cats took advantage of some shoddy Tacoma defense and Sacramento received a strong performance from the bullpen on their way to an easy 5-1 victory.
|Saarloos was strong in his first outing of the season. b>|
Saarloos was relieved by lefty Dallas Braden, who was expected to be in the starting rotation this season for Sacramento. His appearance in the bullpen may be only temporary, as A's starter Chad Gaudin will be in the rotation for Sacramento for at least one more turn while he rehabs from off-season surgery. Braden was effective in relief. He threw 2.2 scoreless frames. Braden allowed three hits, but he didn't walk a batter and he struck-out three. Jerry Blevins took over for Braden with two-outs in the eighth inning and, after allowing two singles, he recorded the final out of the inning. Joey Devine came on in the ninth inning and he worked a scoreless frame, striking out two.
Sacramento managed only seven hits on offense, but they made them all count. The River Cats put a three-spot on the board in the second inning. The inning began with three straight singles from Casey Rogowski, Wes Bankston and Jeff Fiorentino. Fiorentino's hit drove-in the first run of the game. Nick Blasi followed with a groundball to third. Tacoma third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo threw the ball away, allowing both Bankston and Fiorentino to score.
The River Cats carried a 3-1 lead into the fifth inning when Sacramento would tack on two more runs to give themselves a comfortable cushion. With one-out, Brooks Conrad jump-started the rally with a single to right. Carlos Gonzalez followed with a single of his own, moving Conrad to second. Conrad would come around to score on Todd Linden's single to right. That single moved Gonzalez to third and he came around to score on Rogowski's sacrifice fly.
That would be all of the scoring that Sacramento would need to earn win number one for the season. The only negative for the River Cats on Friday was that Fiorentino had to leave the game early with an injury. He was involved in a collision at first base after Tacoma second baseman Yung Chi Chen threw the ball wildly on a Fiorentino groundball. Shortstop Gregorio Petit had a rough game, as well. The normally sure-handed Petit committed two errors, and he already has three on the season.
Midland Blows Lead Late, But Leslie Saves The Day
Midland coughed up a three-run lead with two-outs in the eighth inning, but the Rockhounds recovered with a run in the top of the 10th inning to hold off the Arkansas Travelers and move to 2-0 on the young season.
|Pennington is off to a fast start this season. b>|
He would leave the game with the score tied at two apiece. Midland scored single runs in the first and third innings before Arkansas answered with two in the sixth. The Rockhounds would jump out to a 5-2 lead in the seventh inning when second baseman Jesus Guzman clubbed a bases-clearing double that scored three. Guzman already has two doubles and three runs scored in two games.
Left-hander Jay Marshall came on in the bottom of the seventh for Midland. He allowed a lead-off double, but pitched around that hit to keep the Travelers off of the board. Marshall struck-out a batter and got two ground-outs to close out the inning. Scott Tyler came on for Marshall in the bottom of the eight to protect the three-run lead. He quickly recorded the first two outs, but he ran into trouble with two outs, walking two batters.
Tyler was replaced by Kristian Bell, who allowed a run-scoring single and then another run on two consecutive passed balls by catcher Anthony Recker. After another walk, the Travelers scored the tying run on a wild pitch. Bell would stay on for the ninth inning and he had more success in that frame. He allowed one hit, but picked off Hainley Statia from first and faced only three batters to send the game into extra-innings.
Midland came to bat in the top of the 10th and with one-out, Myron Leslie launched a long homerun to straight-away centerfield to give Midland the 6-5 win. Jesus Silva came on in the bottom of the 10th to try to save the game for Midland. Silva made quick work of the Travelers, recording a pop-out, a line-out and a strike-out to finish off Midland's second win.
Cliff Pennington and Guzman continue to be spark-plugs at the top of the Midland order. Pennington went 3-5 with a double, two runs scored and a stolen base. He has reached base five times in two games. Guzman reached three times on Friday, twice on hits and once on a walk, and he had three RBIs. Danny Putnam, Tom Everidge and Leslie drove-in the Rockhounds' other three runs. Mike Massaro went 2-4 with a stolen base and Brian Snyder reached three times on a hit and two walks.
Stockton Dominates Modesto In Rout
The Stockton Ports had their big bats and their big arms on display on Friday, as the Ports got into the win column with a convincing 9-1 win over the Modesto Nuts.
|Rodriguez dazzled in his 2008 debut. b>|
Rodriguez had plenty of offense to work with from the outset on Friday. Archie Gilbert got the game off to a good start for Stockton with a solo homerun to lead-off the bottom of the first. The Ports quickly made it 3-0 when Sean Doolittle followed a Josh Horton single with a two-run homerun. Gilbert continued his hot start to the season with an RBI single in the second inning to give the Ports a 4-0 lead.
Stockton would extend that lead to 6-0 with two more runs in the third. The Ports loaded the bases with no-outs on singles by Doolittle and Chris Carter and a walk by Jed Morris. Frank Martinez drove home Doolittle with a force-out and then Mike Affronti brought in Carter with a sacrifice fly. Matt Sulentic would add a solo homerun in the fourth inning and Doolittle would come all the way around the bases on a triple and a throwing error later in the inning. Doolittle would bring home the Ports' final run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
Doolittle was the star of the game. The A's second pick in 2007 went 4-4 with a homer, a triple, three RBIs and three runs scored. The Stockton outfield was productive on Friday, as well. Leftfielder Gilbert hit a homer, drove-in two runs and scored a run, right-fielder Sulentic homered and centerfielder Jermaine Mitchell scored twice.
After Rodriguez exited at the game, right-hander Arnold Leon entered the game in the sixth inning. Leon was expected to be in the starting rotation, but it appears for now that Jared Lansford will be in the rotation rather than Leon. The Mexican League acquisition was effective in relief for Stockton on Friday. Leon allowed only a hit and a walk in two scoreless innings. He struck-out two.
Left-hander Derrick Gordon pitched a scoreless eighth inning for Stockton, allowing only a hit and striking out a batter. Sam Demel came on in the ninth inning and gave-up only a walk in a scoreless frame. Stockton pitchers allowed only five hits and struck-out 11 on Friday.
The Stockton Record reported on Friday that outfielder Richie Robnett would be with the Ports for a few days while he awaits surgery on Monday to remove a benign growth from his stomach. He is expected to miss a week to 10 days before returning to the field, likely with Triple-A Sacramento.
Kane County Wins A Slugfest In Delayed Season Opener
It was a day late, but the Kane County Cougars got their season off to a strong start with a 10-5 win over Beloit on Friday night, one day after the scheduled season opener was rained out.
|Dowling had a monster season opener. b>|
Italiano was staked to an early three-run lead when Kane County outfielder Toddric Johnson launched a three-run homer in the second inning. Johnson went deep six times in 2007 for Kane County.
Italiano allowed two runs in the third and another in the fourth and left the game with the score tied. Kane County quickly untied the game in the fifth inning when first baseman Greg Dowling rifled a two-run double to make the score 5-3. Beloit helped the Cougars break the game open in the sixth inning when Kane County scored four unearned runs to make the score 9-3. Shortstop Walter Correa doubled home Christian Vitters and later scored on a wild pitch. Then Dowling, who was the star of the game for Kane County, drove-in two more runs.
Reliever Justin Friend allowed two unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Cougars added a run in the top of the seventh to account for the final score of 10-5. Friend earned the win by allowing two unearned runs in 1.1 innings of work. He struck-out three and walked one. Nick Walters pitched 1.1 scoreless innings. He walked three and struck-out two.
The most impressive pitcher of the night was Jose Fragoso, who pitched a perfect 2.1 innings. He struck-out six batters in his debut for the A's organization. On offense, Dowling collected three hits and four RBIs to pace Kane County. Including his homer, Johnson scored two runs while driving-in three. Correa had two hits and an RBI, while former Navy catcher Jonathan Johnston reached base twice on walks and stole a base in his professional debut. Johnston batted lead-off for Kane County.
The Cougars take on Beloit in a double-header on Saturday.