Oakland A's MLN: Off To A Winning Start

It took an April snowstorm in Wisconsin to prevent the Oakland A's affiliates from making a clean sweep of wins on Minor League Baseball's Opening Day. The three A's affiliates in action on Thursday met with success. We have the details in this latest edition of the Oakland A's Minor League Notebook...

River Cats Cruise To Opening Win

The Portland Beavers starting line-up featured three regulars from the Sacramento River Cats' 2009 Southern Division winning team, but it was the 2010 River Cats who did the damage in Sacramento's 6-2 victory over Portland on Opening Day.

Aaron Cunningham, Chris Denorfia and Eric Munson – all 2009 River Cats – combined to reach base six times, but it wasn't enough for Portland to overcome a Sacramento nine-hit attack. Landon Powell homered, Michael Taylor and Dallas McPherson each tripled and Corey Wimberly had two hits and two stolen bases to pace the River Cats' attack. Steven Tolleson had a two-run double, as well. Powell's homerun was a mammoth blast that left PGE Park. Sacramento struck-out 10 times and walked only once, but the River Cats grouped their hits together well to score their runs.

Vince Mazzaro got his second straight Opening Day start for the River Cats. As he did in 2009, Mazzaro didn't allow a hit in his Opening Day outing. Mazzaro pitched 4.1 innings, allowing no hits and two walks. He struck-out seven, but wasn't able to get the win, as he was lifted before the end of the fifth inning because he was on a pitch count.

Mazzaro was relieved by Demel, who allowed a solo homer to the first batter he faced, catcher Dusty Ryan. He loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning, but was bailed out by Michael Benacka, who induced an inning-ending double-play to keep Portland off of the board. Benacka would be credited with the win after he pitched 1.2 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and struck-out one. Brad Kilby pitched the eighth inning and he allowed a run on two hits. Jonathan Hunton came in for the ninth inning and tossed a one-two-three inning to end the 6-2 win.

Tyler Ladendorf, who came into the game in the eighth inning as the third baseman (McPherson moved from third to first, replacing Chris Carter), made a nice diving play to end the game. Ladendorf was on the Stockton Ports' original Opening Day roster, but he was called up to Sacramento to fill a roster spot as the River Cats waited for the recently claimed Jai Miller and the recently outrighted Jack Cust to report.

Midland Starts Where They Left Off In Opener

It may be a new season and a mostly new collection of faces, but the results are the same for the Midland Rockhounds. The defending Texas League champions crushed the Arkansas Travelers in front of the home crowd on Thursday night, 11-1. Travis Banwart tossed a solid five innings to earn the win and Alexander Valdez went deep to pace the Rockhounds.

Going into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Rockhounds were losing by a score of 1-0. The Rockhounds quickly erased that deficit with a four-run outburst and never looked back. Midland led the Texas League in offense last season and the 2010 Rockhounds looked much like their 2009 counterparts in Thursday's opener. The Rockhounds' offense collected 12 hits, including a homer, four doubles and one triple.

Valdez became the first A's prospect to homer in the 2010 season when he went deep in the fifth inning. He went 2-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Leadoff hitter Jemile Weeks also had a big game. He fell just a homer short of the cycle, going 3-5 with a run scored. Shane Peterson scored three runs and had two hits, including a double. Archie Gilbert doubled twice and Steve Kleen, in his Double-A debut, had three RBIs.

The Rockhounds didn't just flex their muscles on Thursday night. They also showed a lot of patience at the plate. Midland drew eight walks. Anthony Recker walked three times and Matt Sulentic, starting in centerfield, walked twice.

Banwart was solid in his Opening Day assignment. He threw 87 pitches during his five innings. Banwart allowed one run on four hits and three walks. He struck-out three. The right-hander was replaced in the sixth inning by Arnold Leon. Leon walked the first two batters he faced, but he settled down from there and tossed two scoreless innings. Mickey Storey (a perfect eighth inning) and Justin Souza (a scoreless ninth inning) finished off the win.

Ports Get 2010 Season Off On The Right Note

It took more than a week for the 2009 Stockton Ports to land in the win column. There will be no such wait in 2010. The Ports used a strong pitching performance and an eight-hit, five-walk offensive attack to beat the Visalia Rawhide by a score of 5-1.

Shawn Haviland combined with three Ports' relievers to shut-down the Rawhide attack. Haviland allowed only three hits and three walks in 4.1 scoreless innings to get the Ports off on the right foot. He struck-out five. Trey Barham took over for Haviland in the fifth and he earned the win by tossing 1.2 perfect innings. He struck-out three. Scott Hodsdon allowed an unearned run in two innings of work. He also struck-out three. Dan Sattler finished off the win with a scoreless ninth. In total, Ports pitchers struck-out 12 batters and walked only three.

Jermaine Mitchell, batting lead-off for Stockton, had a big game in the opener. He had three hits, scored a run and stole a base. Petey Paramore, who was the designated hitter, had two hits, an RBI and a walk in three at-bats. Jeremy Barfield drove-in two with a two-out single and he threw out a runner at second from right field. Catcher Ryan Ortiz and second baseman Jason Christian also drove-in runs. Shortstop Grant Green, the A's top pick last season, had a rough 2010 debut. He went 0-4 and he committed two throwing errors.

Kane County's Opener Postponed

Snow in Appleton, Wisconsin, put the Kane County Cougars' season opener against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on ice. Weather-permitting, the Cougars will open the season on Friday with a double-header.

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