Sacramento Notebook: Miller Time

Miller is making a mockery of PCL pitching.

The month of July didn't start well for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, but the pace has been picking up for the 'Cats of late. We take a look at the River Cats' month of July to date.

Team Overview

July got off to a rough start for the first-place Sacramento River Cats. The River Cats dropped the first six games of the month, extending a season-high losing streak to nine games. Things have gone smoother for the River Cats since that time, as the team has gone 6-4.

Despite the early struggles in July, Sacramento is still safely ahead in the PCL's Pacific South division. Through Tuesday, the River Cats held a 7.5 game lead over second-place Las Vegas. They continue a series with Salt Lake in Utah on Wednesday, having dropped the first game of the series on Tuesday night.

The offense has been clicking for the River Cats in July. The team is carrying an 810 OPS and they have scored 98 runs, a better than six-runs-per-game average. The pitching has been more uneven. Sacramento hurlers have a 4.67 ERA with a 1.45 WHIP in July. The bullpen has converted only one of five save opportunities this month and Sacramento has yielded 20 homers in 16 games.

Comings and Goings

It has been a busy month of transactions for the River Cats thus far in July, as the A's have made a number of moves that have directly impacted their Triple-A affiliate. Oakland began the month by designating injured left-hander Bobby Cramer for assignment. He was later given his outright release. Cramer had a herniated disk in his back, but he is starting to get better and teams both in the US and Japan have expressed interest in signing Cramer when he gets back on the mound.

The A's also sent first-baseman Chris Carter, right-handers Graham Godfrey and Trystan Magnuson, left-hander Josh Outman and infielder Adam Rosales down from the big leagues to Triple-A. Reliever Jerry Blevins and starter Guillermo Moscoso have gone back-and-forth between Triple-A and the big leagues this month. Infielder Eric Sogard was recalled to Oakland, taking Carter's place on the roster and Rosales' place on the depth chart.

After three torrid months with Double-A Midland, outfielder Jermaine Mitchell was promoted to Sacramento at the start of the month. He has been hitting at the top of the order fairly consistently since his promotion.

The disabled list has been full for the River Cats in July, as well. All-Star Anthony Recker hasn't played since July 9th. He was replaced briefly on the Sacramento roster by 2011 14th-round pick Nick Rickles and later by Petey Paramore, who was sent up from High-A Stockton. Starters Carlos Hernandez and Lenny DiNardo both had brief stints on the DL, although both are back from the DL now. Although they weren't on the DL, infielders Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andy LaRoche both missed time with injuries, causing the A's to bring up shortstop Dusty Coleman from Stockton for a short time. Most recently, first-baseman Daric Barton has landed on the DL. Barton is batting .250 this month with a 649 OPS.

The A's added veteran Doug Mathis to the Sacramento staff early in the month, but his stay with the River Cats was brief, as he took an offer to play in Korea. Reliever Bruce Billings was acquired from the Colorado Rockies in the Mark Ellis deal and he joined the River Cats' bullpen.

A number of River Cats were demoted to lower levels. Starter Yadel Marti was sent down to High-A Stockton and was later sent to Double-A Midland. Infielder Wes Timmons and reliever Joe Bateman, who were both signed as minor league free agents during the off-season, were sent to Double-A. Timmons was sent down despite sporting a healthy .303 with a .418 OBP for Sacramento.

Who's Hot

The hottest player in the A's system right now is Sacramento outfielder Jai Miller, who has seven homers in his last 10 games. For the month, he has nine homers in 16 games and has already established a career-high for longballs with 24. He has accounted for nearly half of the River Cats' 19 homers, has scored 17 runs in 15 games and has driven-in 17. Miller is batting .283 with a 1063 OPS for the season.

Fellow outfielder Matt Carson is also having a solid month. In 15 games, he is batting .328 with a 921 OPS. Third-baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff is hitting .333 with two homers and a .387 OBP in 15 games this month. Catcher Josh Donaldson is having his best month of the season in terms of batting average. In 12 games, he is batting .319 with an 854 OPS.

On the mound, lefty Carlos Hernandez has put together a solid month of July. In three starts, he has a 3.38 ERA and an 11:3 K:BB ratio. Guillermo Moscoso struck out nine in six innings in his one start with the River Cats before he was sent back up to Oakland.

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