Cal League Division Playoffs: Game 3

The San Jose Giants had the best overall record in the California League in 2005, and the 3rd best in all of minor league baseball. Monday night they moved a step closer towards proving their quality in the postseason, thanks to a 6-0 win over Modesto that completed a sweep and advanced them to the Championship Series.

It’s not often you see a guy make his debut on a team in the playoffs, but that’s just how it went for the San Jose Giants on Monday night in Modesto. Jonathan Sanchez, the South Atlantic League leader in strikeouts for 2005 made his High-A debut at San Jose in Game 3, and held the Modesto Nuts scoreless for 6.2 innings leading to the Giants 6-0 win and a sweep of the Northern Division Series for the California League.

The Giants move ahead to face the Lake Elsinore Storm in the Championship Series beginning Thursday. The Storm also swept their Division Series opponent, the Lancaster Jethawks.

San Jose got off to an early lead after Kevin Frandsen and Brian Buscher hit back to back two out doubles in the first inning. Though the one run lead would end up being enough, the Giants added to it in the 6th inning, when Buscher doubled to lead off the inning, and Nate Schierholtz singled him home to pad the lead at 2-0.

Schierholtz would then pad the lead further in the 8th. Clay Timpner opened the inning with a single, and Frandsen walked. Buscher sacrificed them to 2nd and 3rd, and Schierholtz went to the plate hoping to hit the ball in the air and get another run home. He did get it in the air, but the ball carried all the way over the fence, and 3 runs came home to give San Jose a commanding 5-0 lead.

That would be enough for Sanchez. Sanchez allowed 6 hits and 2 walks in 6.2 innings while striking out 5. He did give up 2 singles and a walk in the 7th to load the bases with 2 out, and that’s when he yielded to Justin Hedrick out of the bullpen, who got Rockies 2005 first round pick Troy Tulowitzki to ground out to end the inning.

Jon Coutlangus and Eugene Espineli pitched the 8th and 9th respectively to hold the shutout and finish the game.

The Championship Series will begin Thursday at Lake Elsinore. Games 1 & 2 will be played in Lake Elsinore, with Game 3 Saturday at San Jose. Games 4 & 5, if needed, will be played at San Jose on Sunday and Monday. Player of the Game: Newcomer Jonathan Sanchez came into a pressure filled Game 3, and handled it without any problems.

Game Notes: The Giants are headed to their first Championship Series since 1999…The Giants have previously won the California League Championship twice, 1998 and 2001…in 2001, they were co-Champions with Lake Elsinore after the Championship Series was cancelled following the September 11th tragedies…The sweep was the Giants’ first since 1995, when they swept the then-Modesto A’s in the Northern Division Series…The Giants outscored Modesto 26-7 in this year’s sweep.

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