Oakland A's MLN: Regular Season Concludes

Monday marked the final day of the minor league regular season. We have updates on the Midland Rockhounds' chase for a playoff spot, the status of catcher Landon Powell, the playoff start dates for the Oakland A's affiliates heading to the post-season and more...

Midland Falls Just Short

The Midland Rockhounds made a strong push for the post-season, but the A's Double-A affiliate would fall just 90 feet short. Needing a win to clinch a post-season spot, the Rockhounds lost a heart-breaker to the Frisco RoughRiders by a score of 5-4.

Down 4-0 after the first inning, Midland clawed back and tied the game with a two-out RBI single by Javier Herrera that capped a two-run rally in the seventh. The Rockhounds gave the RoughRiders back a run in the bottom of the eighth when Henry Rodriguez allowed a run on a wild pitch. Midland would mount a rally with two-outs in the top of the ninth, but with runners at second and third and two-outs, Jon Zeringue struck-out on a called strike-three to end the game.

Midland had a number of stars this season. Team MVP Tom Everidge finished with a .279 average, 22 homers and a league-best 115 RBIs. Jesus Guzman completed his 80 game stint with the Rockhounds with a .364 average, while Zeringue had 23 homers and 89 RBIs. Anthony Recker bounced back from a rough second half of the 2007 season with Midland to bat .274 with 11 homers and 64 RBIs.

On the mound, the Midland bullpen was a strength at the end of the season. Jared Lansford allowed only two runs in 25.2 innings (0.70 ERA) of relief. Andrew Carignan had a 2.22 ERA in 52.2 innings with 24 saves, while Andrew Bailey excelled after switch into a relief role, allowing only four runs in 39 relief innings with 41 strikeouts and 11 walks.

Other News and Notes

* For the second consecutive season, catcher Landon Powell's season ended early with surgery on his left knee. Last season, Powell tore his ACL in that knee for the second time in three years. This year, he had a procedure to clean out the knee and while he is already off crutches, Powell will not return this season. He was a strong candidate for a September call-up with Oakland before being sidelined with the knee soreness. In 88 games this season, Powell hit .230 with 15 homers and 53 RBIs. He was named the River Cats' Most Improved Player for 2008 in a ceremony before Sacramento's game on Saturday.

* The other 2008 River Cats award winners were: Cliff Pennington, Best Defensive Player; Gio Gonzalez, Most Exciting Player; Kirk Saarloos, Pitcher of the Year; Wes Bankston, Most Exciting Player; Brooks Conrad, Most Versatile Player and Best Teammate; Casey Rogowski, Most Valuable Player. Conrad's Best Teammate award was voted on by the River Cats' players. The River Cats begin their defense of their PCL title on Wednesday at home against the Salt Lake Bees. The rotation is expected to be Brad Knox on Wednesday; a rehabbing Sean Gallagher on Thursday (with Lenny DiNardo scheduled to go after Gallagher); Chris Gissell on Friday; Vince Mazzaro on Saturday; and Justin Dowdy on Sunday.

* Outfielder Aaron Cunningham collected the first two hits of his big league career in his major league debut with Oakland on Sunday. Sacramento manager Todd Steverson only had Cunningham on his team for 20 games, but he came away impressed with the young outfielder. "He is a young player with a lot of upside to him. He'll have a chance to learn even more baseball at the highest level," Steverson said. "His 20 games here prove that he is a definite prospect and it is up to him now that he is up in the big leagues to prove that he belongs there." Cunningham hit .382 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 76 at-bats with the River Cats.

* Steverson, who was a hitting coach in the minor leagues before becoming a manager in 2005, is hard at work with outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, trying to get his swing going. Gonzalez had two hits in five at-bats with two RBIs on Monday and is three-for-his-last-nine. A big slump with Oakland had lowered his average from .274 to .240 and resulted with the young outfielder being sent back to Sacramento. "We are working to get his stroke back. When you go through a slump like he did in the big leagues, it can be magnified," Steverson said. "He can come down here now and work through it in a much less pressurized atmosphere. He'll see the same pitches. It's just a matter of getting his eyes back, really."

* Every Kane County Cougars hitter had at least one hit and the Cougars pounded Peoria by a score of 13-4 in their final tune-up before the post-season. Toddric Johnson had three hits, including two doubles, to raise his season average to .281. Matt Ray hit his third homer of the season. Greg Dowling had two hits. Over the weekend, he passed former Marlins prospect and 2007 Sacramento first baseman Jason Stokes as the all-time Kane County Cougars' homerun leader with 28 career homers for the team. Dowling hit 15 homers this season and drove-in 71. Kane County will play a best-of-three series starting Wednesday against Burlington.

* Chris Carter finished just one homer short of the 40-homer mark, as he went 0-4 in the Ports' regular-season ending loss to Visalia. The Stockton slugger concluded the regular season with 39 homers and 104 RBIs. Matt Spencer hit his eighth homer and went 2-4 to raise his average to .331 for Stockton. The Ports begin a best-of-three playoff series against the Modesto Nuts on Wednesday.

* Jose Guzman saved his 15th game for Vancouver and the Canadians finished off the 2008 season on a winning note with a 6-3 win over Salem-Keizer. Mitchell LeVier had three hits in four at-bats, while Dusty Coleman, J.D. Pruitt and Francisco Tirado each had two hits in the win. Trey Barham earned his fourth win by allowing three runs in five innings. Fabian Gomez had two innings of scoreless relief with one hit and one walk with two strike-outs.

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