Oakland A's MLN: Cougars, Rockhounds Perfect

The Kane County Cougars and the Midland Rockhounds are off to outstanding starts to their 2008 seasons. Both teams moved to 5-0 records on Monday with blow-out wins. We have the details of those games and other news and notes inside…

Cougars Stay Perfect With Blowout

One year after getting off to one of the worst starts in franchise history, the Kane County Cougars have experienced a complete 180 in their fortunes in early 2008. The Cougars won their fifth straight game on Monday, setting a team record in the process with their first 5-0 start.

A six-run first inning made the Cougars' home opener a breeze from the start. Kane County batted around in scoring six times. The big blows of the inning came from the Cougars' two hottest hitters – Greg Dowling and Toddric Johnson. Dowling launched a two-run homer with one-out in the inning and Johnson cracked a three-run blast with two outs in the frame. The homer was Johnson's second three-run homer of the early season.

The scoring didn't stop there for Kane County. The Cougars scored twice more in the third, four times in the sixth and once more in the seventh for a 13-5 win. Kane County had 19 hits. Dowling and Johnson each had four hits, with Dowling driving in three and Johnson bringing home four. Johnson also scored three times. He is batting .389 on the season and Dowling has opened with a .586 clip. Corey Brown collected his first three-hit game of the season, driving in his fourth run in five games. Mike Lissman also had three hits and Jonathan Johnston stole his third base of the season.

Scott Mitchinson, who was acquired by the A's in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft, made his first start of the 2008 season. He had to sit through a couple of long innings when the Cougars were at-bat, but he was still effective for the most part. In four innings, the Australian right-hander allowed two runs – one earned. He allowed five hits and three walks but struck-out eight.

Justin Friend relieved Mitchinson in the fifth and worked three innings to earn his second win of the young season. Friend allowed three unearned runs, but he gave-up only two hits and struck out six. Nick Walters finished the game with two scoreless innings of his own. Kane County pitchers combined to strike-out 17 batters in the big win.

Midland Whitewashes Springfield To Stay Perfect

The Midland Rockhounds are on a roll, and infielder Jesus Guzman is leading the way. Guzman collected his second straight four-hit game to lead the Rockhounds to a 12-0 win.

Midland's offense exploded for 18 hits. Every Rockhounds' hitter had at least one hit and six players had multi-hit games. Brian Snyder, Tom Everidge and Casey Myers all homered. Snyder, who was playing first base during the game, drove-in four runs and reached base four times. Myers, who is a player-coach for Midland this season, had three extra-base hits (a homer and two doubles) and he scored four runs. Jon Zeringue also doubled twice and Cliff Pennington had a double, a walk, two runs scored and an RBI.

James Simmons started the game. He was very effective, not allowing a run in three innings. Simmons allowed three hits and he struck-out three. He was removed from the game after the third. There was no immediate word whether Simmons was hurt or if he had reached his pitch count limit. The right-hander threw 51 pitches.

Ryan Webb took over for Simmons in the fourth, making his 2008 Double-A debut. After struggling through a brief Double-A stint last season, Webb looked like a different pitcher in his first Double-A outing this season. He allowed a walk and a hit to start his stint, but he used a double-play to get out of the inning and then cruised through five shut-out innings. He allowed only two hits and two walks and he struck-out two. Webb touched 96 MPH on the stadium gun, a good five miles-per-hour harder than he hit last season.

Right-hander Scott Tyler finished off the rout for Midland, throwing a perfect ninth inning with two strike-outs. Midland pitchers allowed only five hits and seven base-runners in the rout. The Rockhounds' staff has given up only seven earned runs in five games. Opening day starter Mike Madsen returns to the mound on Tuesday after allowing only one earned run in six innings in his first start of the season.

Other Notes:

- Stockton's three game winning streak came to a halt on Monday. The Ports dropped a 9-0 decision to Bakersfield in Jared Lansford's 2008 debut. It was Lansford's first regular season start since pitching on Opening Day for the Ports last season. The right-hander allowed five runs in 3.2 innings. He struck-out three and walked none, but he hit a batter and gave-up eight hits.

- Sacramento dropped its second straight decision in a 9-1 loss to Bakersfield. A's starter Chad Gaudin was scheduled to make a rehab start for the River Cats on Monday, but he was scratched so that he could make a start for the A's in Toronto on Tuesday. Stockton right-hander Jason Fernandez was promoted temporarily to Sacramento to make the spot start. He allowed two runs in two innings in his 2008 season debut. Fernandez struck-out four. Portland starter Wade LeBlanc dominated the River Cats in the 46-degree chill. LeBlanc struck-out 11 in six innings. The only run he allowed was on catcher Landon Powell's first homerun of the season.

- A few medical updates: Left-hander Bobby Cramer is continuing his rehab on a sore throwing shoulder. Right-hander Mike Mitchell, who had shoulder surgery in 2007, is still in the middle of his rehab and he has begun to throw side sessions. Midland outfielder Javier Herrera is still rehabbing his sore hamstrings in extended spring training in Phoenix.

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