Opening Night A Dud For A's Affiliates

After a successful 2008 season, expectations are high for the Oakland A's minor league system in 2009. The system got off to a rough start to the season, however, dropping all four games on Opening Night. We have the details inside…

Mazzaro Shines, But Bullpen Falters For Sacramento

Right-hander Vince Mazzaro looked a lot like the guy who won the Texas League's Pitcher of the Year award in 2008. He tossed four hitless innings in his 2009 season debut, but the Sacramento bullpen faltered and the River Cats lost their opener to the Tacoma Rainiers by a score of 9-4.

Mazzaro used a steady diet of sinkers to work through four quick innings. He allowed only two walks and struck-out five. Five of the seven outs that Mazzaro recorded in the field came on the ground. He was replaced after throwing 57 pitches in those four innings.

Bobby Cramer took over for Mazzaro in the fifth with the River Cats leading by a score of 2-0. Cramer allowed two runs in the fifth, which tied the game. The River Cats responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but Cramer allowed two more runs in the sixth and left the game with it tied 4-4. He allowed seven hits in 1.2 innings of work.

Kevin Cameron took over for Cramer in the sixth and got the final out of the inning, but then allowed three of the Rainiers' five runs in the seventh inning. Jared Lansford allowed the other two runs in that frame. Jay Marshall finally stopped the bleeding, tossing a scoreless top of the eighth inning. The game was called after eight innings thanks to rain and unsafe playing conditions.

On offense, Chris Denorfia carried over his hot bat from spring training. He went 2-3 with a walk and three runs scored. Aaron Cunningham doubled twice and drove-in two. The River Cats other two runs were unearned. Sean Doolittle and Anthony Recker had rough Triple-A debuts. Doolittle, who played in right-field, went 0-4 and Recker went 0-3 with three strike-outs.

The River Cats' Opening Day line-up featured seven hitters who spent some time with the Oakland A's in 2008. Ryan Webb will take on Garrett Olsen on Friday.

Midland Offense Quiet Versus Arkansas

The Midland Rockhounds' star-studded offense was stifled on Opening Night by the Arkansas Travelers. The Rockhounds' pitching also struggled, and the team fell by a score of 6-1.

The night started off well for Midland. Third baseman Corey Wimberly singled to the shortstop to lead-off the game and then stole second and third base. Chris Carter also singled to the shortstop, driving in the Rockhounds' first run of 2009. As it would turn out, that would be the highlight of the game for Midland.

Starter Graham Godfrey allowed a run in the bottom of the first and then gave-up four runs in the second. Two of those runs were unearned thanks to a fielding error by right-fielder Javier Herrera. Godfrey threw three innings in his Double-A debut, allowing five runs (three earned). He allowed four hits and two walks and struck-out four. Justin Dowdy relieved Godfrey in the fourth and the lefty allowed a run in two innings of work. Angel Garcia tossed two scoreless innings of relief and Arnold Leon threw a scoreless frame to close out the game. Leon struck-out two.

Midland had three hits in the first inning and then didn't have a hit for the rest of the game. Second baseman Adrian Cardenas and outfielder Danny Putnam had rough 2009 debuts, each striking out three times. Arkansas starter Sean O'Sullivan allowed one run in six innings. He struck-out six, walked none and retired the final 16 batters he faced.

Jason Fernandez will get the start tomorrow for Midland, and he will be opposed by Angels' prospect Jordan Walden.

Alderson Out-Duels Ross In Stockton Opener

San Francisco Giants prospect Tim Alderson tossed four scoreless innings and the San Jose Giants pitching staff combined to allow only one run despite giving up 10 hits and three walks in San Jose's 5-1 win over the Stockton Ports. Stockton was three-for-17 with runners in scoring position on the night.

A's 2008 second round pick Tyson Ross got off to a good start in the game, tossing two scoreless innings before allowing a solo homerun to Thomas Neal and a run-scoring triple to Nick Noonan in the third. Ross would allow two runs on three hits and two walks in four innings. He struck-out two.

Chad Kerfoot relieved Ross and he allowed a solo homerun to Giants prospect Angel Villanola in two innings. He struck-out two. Justin Friend finished off the game for Stockton and he allowed two runs in two innings.

Stockton didn't score until the ninth inning when Mike Affronti drove home Shane Keough with a single. Keough was the Ports' offensive star on Thursday. He had two hits and walked and scored the only run of the game. Jermaine Mitchell also had two hits and he stole a base, and catcher Matt Smith had two hits. Toddric Johnson had the Ports' only extra-base hit, a double in the first. He was thrown out at home later that inning.

The Ports stifled Giants prospect Buster Posey. The Giants 2008 first-round pick went 0-5 with a strike-out with an RBI ground-out. The Giants and Ports square off again in San Jose on Friday.

Kane County's Offense Silent In Opening Night Loss

Much like Midland, the Kane County Cougars pushed across a run in the first inning and then were unable to score for the rest of the game. The Cougars were two-for-12 with runners in scoring position and fell to the Peoria Chiefs by a score of 4-1.

Kane County starter Matt Fitts started off the game strong, throwing three hitless innings before running into trouble in the fourth. He would allow two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth and finished with a line of three runs and three hits allowed in five innings. He struck-out three and walked one.

Josue Selenes, a minor league Rule 5 pick, made his Oakland A's debut and tossed two scoreless innings in relief. He allowed one hit and one walk and struck-out two. Mike Hart pitched the final inning for Kane County and he allowed an unearned run.

Despite only scoring one run, the Cougars out-hit the Chiefs by a 9-5 margin. David Thomas, Steve Kleen and Mitchell LeVier each had two hits. Thomas scored the team's only run and he stole a base. Jason Christian also stole a base. Kleen and Franklin Hernandez each doubled in the loss.

The Cougars take on the Chiefs again on Friday and Kane County is expected to send Shawn Haviland to the mound. Before the game, the Cougars had a roster change. Catcher Dante Love was sent to High-A Stockton and was replaced on the active roster by Petey Paramore, who was originally set to start the season on the DL. Paramore didn't play in the opener. Love replaced Raul Padron in Stockton. Padron was sent to Sacramento to replace Curtis Thigpen, who was placed on the DL.

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