Oakland A's MLN: Ports Bust Loose

The Stockton Ports' pitching staff has received a lot of attention in the early going this season, but the Ports' hitters reminded everyone this weekend that they are a force, as well. We have notes from Stockton's explosive four-game series versus Rancho Cucamonga, as well as notes on player movement, injuries and more...

Carter Has A Weekend To Remember For Stockton
The Stockton Ports' offense posted prodigious numbers in a four-game sweep of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes that ended on Sunday. The Ports scored a mind-boggling 50 runs in those four games, including 21 on Saturday and 14 on Sunday. Although there was a long list of players who put up big numbers for Stockton against the Quakes, no player was hotter than first baseman Chris Carter.

Coming into Stockton's game on Thursday versus Rancho Cucamonga, Carter was batting only .163 with no homeruns. By the end of the four-game set, Carter had raised his average to .226 and he had clubbed five homeruns. In those four games, Carter went six for 13 with nine runs scored, five homers, 13 RBIs and six walks. His OPS now sits at 891.

Sean Doolittle also had a big series versus the Quakes. He collected five hits in 15 at-bats and scored eight runs, while hitting three homers and driving-in five runs. Doolittle is batting .319 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 18 games. He has a 1069 OPS on the season and he has not seen his average dip below .293 since the second game of the year. Doolittle has shown some added versatility defensively, appearing in the outfield as well as at his natural first base position.

Archie Gilbert hit two homeruns and drove-in five in the series. He is batting .333 with three homers and an 867 OPS on the season. Matt Sulentic reached base 10 times in three games versus the Quakes. He scored five runs and drove-in four. Sulentic is batting .319 with a 930 OPS for Stockton, a stark contrast to the start of his 2007 season with Low-A Kane County when he struggled to get his average above .200. Jermaine Mitchell had six hits in the series with a homer and five RBIs. He has his average up to .294 with a .390 OBP.

The Stockton pitching staff took a backstage to the offense during the Quakes series, but the Ports pitchers still continue to impress. Although the team lost right-hander Henry Rodriguez to a promotion to Double-A over the weekend, the starting rotation still shined. On Sunday, Brett Anderson threw six shut-out innings to earn his third win of the season. He allowed only three hits and one walk and he struck-out nine. In three of Anderson's four starts this season, the left-hander has allowed no runs on eight hits in 18 innings. In the other outing, he gave-up six runs on nine hits in 2.1 innings.

Graham Godfrey slid into the rotation on Saturday in the place of Rodriguez. He started for Stockton and allowed only one earned run in 3.1 innings with five strike-outs and no walks. Godfrey has allowed only three earned runs in 12 innings this year for Stockton and Triple-A Sacramento, where Godfrey pitched 2.1 scoreless innings. He has 14 strike-outs on the year. Jason Glushon earned the win for Stockton on Saturday in his season debut with the Ports. He allowed no earned runs in 3.2 innings with four strike-outs. He appeared in three games for Sacramento earlier in the season and allowed five earned runs in 6.1 innings.

Jason Fernandez also had a good debut for the Ports after spending some time with the River Cats. Fernandez started on Thursday and he allowed only one run in five innings to earn the win. Only right-hander Fautino De Los Santos is struggling in the Stockton rotation. The highly regarded right-hander allowed seven runs in two innings in his last outing and his ERA sits at 7.00 for the season. De Los Santos has struck-out 22 in 18 innings, but he has walked 10 and allowed 22 hits.

The Ports go into their off-day on Monday with a five-game winning streak. Stockton is 12-6 and sits one game behind the San Jose Giants in the North Division. The Ports square-off against San Jose at Banner Island Ballpark on Tuesday when Trevor Cahill battles Giants 2007 first-round pick Tim Alderson for the second time in a week. Cahill out-dueled Alderson on Wednesday.

Rodriguez Debuts For Midland
Henry Rodriguez struggled with his command during his Double-A debut. The right-hander made the start for the Rockhounds on Sunday after being promoted from High-A Stockton on Friday. Rodriguez had a 1.59 ERA in 17 innings with five walks and 23 strike-outs for the Ports.

Rodriguez walked more batters in four innings in his Midland debut than he did in three starts for Stockton. He walked six and struck-out only two against the San Antonio Missions. Despite allowing 11 base-runners in four innings, Rodriguez managed to avoid big damage, allowing only two runs. Midland would eventually go on to lose the game after Jose Rojas allowed two runs in the ninth in a 5-4 decision. The Rockhounds have cooled off after a hot start and now sit 10-6 on the season, two games out of first place in the highly competitive Southern division.

Like Stockton, the Midland starting rotation has been impressive this season. Ryan Webb leads the way for the Rockhounds with a 0.51 ERA in 17.2 innings. James Simmons has a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings and has a 10:2 K:BB ratio. Vince Mazzaro has a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings and Andrew Bailey has a 3.86 ERA in 14 innings.

Sacramento Cools Off In Las Vegas
After winning five games in a row, the Sacramento River Cats have run into a stumbling block in Las Vegas with two losses on Saturday and Sunday. The River Cats have dropped five games to the 51s this season against only one win. Sacramento is 8-3 versus the rest of the league.

Carlos Gonzalez has been the star for Sacramento in the early going this year. He is riding a five-game hitting streak, during which Gonzalez has a gone 12 for 22 with a homer, a double and four runs scored. On the season, he is batting .375 with three homers and a 999 OPS, and he has walked seven times in 16 games.

Todd Linden is also playing well. He has doubled three times over the past two games and is batting .351 on the season. Linden has three homers and a 1085 OPS on the year. Gregorio Petit has put together three consecutive multi-hit games to raise his average to .290 on the year. Second baseman Kevin Melillo made his return to the line-up on Saturday after missing the first two weeks of the season rehabbing a wrist injury. He went 0-8 with a run scored.

On the pitching-side, the River Cats have had to adjust their rotation after losing top starters Greg Smith and Kirk Saarloos to promotions to the major leagues. Danny Borrell was promoted from Midland and joined the rotation in Smith's spot on Friday. He won his Sacramento debut with six shut-out innings against Tucson. Oakland A's right-hander Justin Duchscherer is scheduled to make a rehab start for Sacramento against Las Vegas on Monday.

Sacramento is currently tied atop the South Division with Fresno with a 9-8 record.

Kane County Looking To Extend Hot Start
The Kane County Cougars dropped only their second game of the season on Saturday, a 10-4 decision to Lansing. The Cougars were off on Sunday and will carry a 14-2 record into Monday's game against Great Lakes.

The Cougars have been playing well despite dealing with some injury issues. Shortstop Michael Richard, who was expected to lead-off for Kane County this season, has appeared in only four games thanks to a right thumb injury. Reliever Jose Fragoso has also been limited to four games thanks to a leg injury he sustained after he tripped on the steps of the dugout at Elfstrom Stadium. Fragoso struck-out 12 in 5.2 innings before getting hurt.

Kane County welcomed catcher Matt Smith over the weekend. Smith began the year in Stockton, but was sent to Kane County to take over behind the plate for Jonathan Johnston. Johnston, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and an active member of the Navy, left the team over the weekend for a military commitment that is expected to last at least two weeks. Johnston, a rare catcher with above-average speed, leads the Cougars with five stolen bases.

Jake Smith, the 2006 Johnny Bench award winner as the best collegiate catcher, has been limited to DH duties this season as he continues to rehab his shoulder after undergoing surgery on his labrum last year. Smith has been the Cougars' DH in 12 games and has been one of the team's best hitters. He has a current five-game hitting streak, during which Smith has 10 hits in 16 at-bats. Smith is batting .385 with a 981 OPS for the season.

Corey Brown also has a five-game hitting streak, during which he has clubbed three homers, a triple and two doubles. Brown has a .333 average and a team-leading five homers and 15 RBIs. His 1073 OPS is also tops on the team. Greg Dowling has impressed at the plate, as well, posting a .361 average with 12 RBIs and a 978 OPS in 16 games this season.

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