A's MLN: Ports Lone Winners On Opening Night

Renato Nunez had a strong Stockton debut.

The 2014 minor league season got underway officially on Thursday night. All four of the Oakland A's full-season affiliates were in action, but only one found itself in the winner's column. We have a recap of all of the night's action.

Ports Only A's Winner On Minor League Opening Night

The Stockton Ports were the last line of defense for the A's to avoid being blanked on minor league Opening Night, and the Ports delivered a win. Stockton used a stellar performance from their pitching staff to secure a 4-1 victory over the Visalia Rawhide.

Stockton pitchers allowed just seven base-runners on Thursday night, limiting the Rawhide to four hits and three walks. Josh Bowman got the start. He worked only three innings, but allowed just a run on two hits. He issued all three of Stockton's walks. The bullpen took it from there, as Kris Hall, Ryan Doolittle, a rehabbing Ryan Cook and Nolan Sanburn combined to limit the Rawhide to just two hits. They struck-out nine (Hall, Doolittle and Sanburn each had three Ks). Hall earned the win with two innings of work, while Sanburn recorded a two-inning save.

Third baseman Renato Nunez had a solid Cal League debut. He doubled twice in five at-bats. His first double was the key hit in a three-run first inning that put Stockton in the driver's seat early. Daniel Robertson had a double and a walk, while Matt Olson reached twice with a single and a walk. A's 2013 top pick Billy McKinney singled, scored a run and stole his first base. Bobby Crocker walked twice and stole two bases of his own.

Stockton hitters had just six hits, but they walked six times. The Ports also struck-out 17 times, with three players striking out three times each (Nunez, Crocker and Chad Pinder). Visalia starter Andrew Barbosa was hung with the loss, but he struck-out 11 in five innings.


River Cats Drop Opener In Salt Lake

The River Cats took a brief 2-1 lead in the top of the second inning, but after that it was all Salt Lake, as the Bees took down Sacramento, 8-3, in their PCL opener.

Right-hander Arnold Leon got the start for the River Cats. He threw strikes, but the Bees made a lot of contact and those batted balls found holes. He allowed seven hits in 3.1 innings, including a homerun in the second inning to Luis Jimenez that tied the game at two. Leon struck-out four and walked one.

Lefties Eric Berger and Jose Flores made their A's organizational debuts in relief of Leon and both struggled. Berger allowed a homerun to J.B. Shuck and another hit and a walk in one inning of work. Flores followed and he allowed three runs on four hits in 1.2 innings.

Rehabbing A's reliever Fernando Rodriguez made his first appearance since injuring his elbow during spring training last year. He had a solid debut, allowing a hit and striking out one in one scoreless inning. Rodriguez's 30-day rehab clock has now been started. Paul Smyth finished the game for Sacramento, allowing a hit and striking out one in one scoreless inning.

Sacramento managed just fives hits and three walks in the game. Alden Carrithers, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Jake Goebbert, Nate Freiman and Kent Matthes had the hits for the River Cats. Jose Martinez walked twice and had two RBI.

Former A's prospect Grant Green had an excellent game for Salt Lake. He had three hits – including a double – against his former team. He also stole a base. Green played shortstop in the game. The game-time temperature was 51 degrees, although the wind chill made it feel significantly colder than that.


Midland Routed In Slugfest

With a 39 MPH wind out to centerfield, it was a bad night to be a pitcher in West Texas. It was an especially bad night if that pitcher was wearing blue and orange. The Midland pitching staff allowed 20 runs on 22 hits and nine walks in their 20-7 loss to the Arkansas Travelers. The Travelers had six extra-base hits, including two homeruns.

Believe it or not, the game was scoreless after one inning. That didn't last long, however, as the Travelers scored seven times on eight hits and two walks off RockHounds' starter Drew Granier. Granier retired the first four batters he faced before things unraveled on him. He lasted just 1.2 innings.

It was a bullpen game after that, and the bullpen struggled to stop the bleeding. Nate Long allowed three runs in 1.2 innings before giving way to Blake Hassebrock, who allowed seven runs on six hits and two walks in just two-thirds of an inning. Seth Frankoff slowed down the onslaught with two scoreless innings, but Ryan Dull struggled in his 2014 debut, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks in 1.2 innings. Andrew Werner finished the game with 1.1 scoreless innings of work.

Several RockHounds had good games at the plate. Top A's prospect Addison Russell collected three hits in his first three at-bats in the Texas League and finished the game 3-for-5. One of the hits was a double and he stole a base. Second baseman Dusty Coleman had three hits, including a homer, and he drove-in three. Jefry Marte had two hits and two RBI, while Billy Burns had a double and two walks.


Snappers Fall On Cold Night In Beloit

The weather was cold and so were the Beloit Snappers' bats in their season opener against the Burlington Bees. It was 38 degrees at first pitch (26 with wind chill factored in) and the Snappers managed just one run on seven hits in their 5-1 loss to the Bees.

Right-hander Bobby Wahl got the start and he went 3.1 innings. He allowed three runs on four hits and two walks. He struck-out two. Matt Stalcup tossed 2.2 scoreless innings in relief, but Lee Sosa allowed two runs in one inning of work to stretch the Snappers' deficit from 3-1 to 5-1. Chris Lamb finished off the game with two perfect innings (four strike-outs), but the Snappers couldn't close the gap.

Lead-off hitter Boog Powell reached base three times with two singles and a walk. He also stole a base. Melvin Mercedes had two hits and scored the Snappers' only run, while Chih-Fang Pan had an RBI double. This was Pan's first game since 2012. He missed the 2013 season with a shoulder injury that required surgery.


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