Cesar Carrillo has struggled to start his 2007 campaign, to say the least. The pitcher, who had the potential of filling the fifth starter spot in San Diego prior to his injury last season, has posted a 13.50 earned run average in his first two starts, surrendering 12 runs on 12 hits and eight walks in eight innings. After enduring a lingering right arm strain last season that kept him sidelined for all but ten starts, the Padres and Carrillo opted for rest rather than surgery.
According to Beavers pitching coach, Gary Lance, his early struggles this season has nothing to do with his arm, which he says is in good health. "The arm is not an issue. It's feeling very good, very strong. We were a little concerned with that, but it has responded really well, it is not the problem at all."
In Friday night's home opener, Carrillo yielded nine runs to the visiting Fresno Grizzlies in just three innings of work. He was helped out by his bullpen that night, as five Beaver pitchers shut out the Grizzlies the rest of the way, giving their team a chance to win, which they did on a Jack Cust double in the bottom of the 12th inning.
"[Friday night's game] was a travel day, and he was not feeling really strong overall," Lance explained. "Consequently, the body tries to help the arm, and the body is ahead of the arm. We call it rushing. Basically his arm couldn't keep up with the body. So he was in front of the ball. Which means he's going to release it too early and come up flat and up in the zone."
Between starts, Carrillo has been working on "slowing the world down" while on the mound by letting his body slow down and his arm catch up, and letting his mechanics come together. Doing so allows Carrillo to throw all his pitches, including the curveball (hammer) and changeup, more effectively and down in the zone.
Lance is confident in Carrillo's ability and explains it is just a part of learning to become a better baseball player and developing into a major league caliber pitcher. Prior to Wednesday night's game, Carrillo's third start of the season, Lance showed that optimism, saying, "If his mechanics are where they need to be and his timing and the pace is where it needs to be we should see a pretty good hammer today. And he needs that."
The temperatures dropped into the low 40s on a cold and wet night in Portland, as players had to deal with intermittent downpours and rain delays throughout the early stages of the game and a dirt surface that was constantly being peppered with a quick drying substance, which has been in high demand this season in baseball, by the grounds crew. Both offenses seemed dormant for the most part, but it was Sacramento who notched a run first in the fourth inning.
With runners on first and second, Brian Stavitsky grounded into what looked like an inning ending double play, but a hard slide at second forced Luis Cruz' relay to first to sail up the line and out of play, allowing the runner to score from second. The inning finally ended on a bizarre play two batters later. With runners on first and second again, Antonio Perez grounded to Cruz, whose idea of a force out at second was scuttled by a speedy Jason Stokes coming from first base. Cruz then looked to first, but seeing he was going to be late there also, finally gunned it home to get Stavisky attempting to score from second for the out.
Carrillo left the game after five innings having given up five walks, but only gave up one hit and one earned run. Out of the eight batters that Carrillo threw a first pitch strike too, another point Lance wanted Carrillo to focus on, batters were 0-for-7, with one earning a walk.
Tim Stauffer pitched two innings in relief of Carrillo and did not fair well. He gave up two runs, as he hit a batter, walked another and gave up four hits. Stokes touched up Beavers pitcher, Justin Hampson's 0.00 ERA, when he blasted a first pitch fastball into the street behind left field in the eighth inning.
Sacramento starting pitcher, Colby Lewis, shut out the Beavers in his 6.2 innings of work. He picked up his first win of the season (1-1) by allowing just three hits and striking out four.
The Beavers finally scored a run in the ninth, when Craig Stansberry tripled and Jack Cust was able to squeeze a two-out single through the infield shift to right field. Cust went 2-for-3, including an infield single and a walk.
"He deserves it," said Lance, obviously pleased about Rakers performance in Portland. "Not only were the stats good, but he was executing really well. A lot of times in baseball, the guy that is most deserving doesn't always get called up, but this time the deserving guy was called up."