Oakland A's MLN: Blanton Shines In Loss

Joe Blanton had a strong start for Sacramento.

A former big leaguer was on top of his game. A current outfielder earned a win on the mound. Another squad lost on a walk-off sacrifice fly. It was just another wild-and-crazy day within the Oakland A's system. We have the news and notes.

Blanton Shines, But River Cats Lose Late

In his second start for the River Cats, Joe Blanton put together a fine performance, but he was stuck with a no-decision, as the River Cats' bullpen blew a four-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Pitching in the offense-friendly Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Blanton smothered the 51's offense over 5.2 frames. He allowed only four hits and one walk. Blanton struck-out six. The one run allowed was a solo homerun that came during Blanton's final inning of work.

Sacramento was in control of the game until the bottom of the eighth. Leading 5-1, Sacramento reliever Fernando Rodriguez took the hill in the eighth. The first batter reached on a throwing error. Rodriguez then induced a force out, but he allowed a single before being replaced by Deryk Hooker, who couldn't stem Las Vegas' momentum. Five of the next six batters reached against Hooker (three hits, one walk and one reached on another error). Five runs crossed the plate and Las Vegas took a lead they would hold onto in the ninth.

On offense, the River Cats were led by Nate Freiman, who had three hits and two RBI. Ryan Ortiz had two doubles and an RBI, while Alden Carrithers had a hit, two walks and scored twice and Shane Peterson had two hits. Sacramento is now 3-5 on the season.


Eighteen Innings Later, Stockton Walks-Off

The home opener in Stockton was more like a double-header, as the Ports and the Visalia Rawhide needed 18 innings to decide their game. Stockton earned the win in the bottom of the 18th when Chad Pinder doubled to lead-off the frame and Billy McKinney grounded a single to center to score Pinder.

To get to the 18th, the Ports used two position players on the mound, and both were very effective. Infielder Wade Kirkland pitched two scoreless innings and outfielder Dusty Robinson tossed a scoreless 18th to earn the win.

The game could have ended in regulation but for the heroics of outfielder Bobby Crocker. With Stockton trailing 5-4 with two-outs in the bottom of the ninth, Crocker hit a booming homerun to straightaway center to tie the game. It was his first homer of the season. Renato Nunez and Pinder also homered in the game for Stockton.

The Ports' pitching staff turned in an outstanding performance, even before the position players took the hill. Starter Manny Correa was touched for four runs in six innings, but he struck-out six and walked only one. Tucker Healy tossed two scoreless innings, allowing just a hit. On the season, he has allowed just that one hit and no walks in five innings. He has seven strike-outs.

Nolan Sanburn allowed a run on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth, but he came back to pitch a scoreless 10th. He struck-out three in his two frames. Jeremy Barfield established a career-high by pitching three innings in relief of Sanburn. He struck-out five and pitched out of a runner-on-third-with-one-out situation. Kris Hall also pitched out of some tough jams in tossing two scoreless frames.

McKinney had two hits in nine at-bats, including the walk-off single. Pinder went 3-7 with two RBI, while Robinson hit two doubles and Bruce Maxwell had three hits in five at-bats.


Injuries Piling Up In A's System

Wednesday it was revealed that top A's prospect Addison Russell will miss at least a month with a hamstring strain. On Thursday, several more players in the A's minor league system were placed on the disabled list.

Sacramento catcher Stephen Vogt was placed on the DL with a strained oblique. Replacing him on the River Cats' roster is catcher Phil Pohl, who had been with Beloit. Pohl will serve as the back-up to catcher Ryan Ortiz. Pohl replaced Ortiz on the Stockton Ports' roster last season when Ortiz was promoted to Sacramento.

2013 draft pick Iolana Akau joins the Beloit roster in place of Pohl. The strong-armed Akau had been at extended spring training. Akau is the youngest position player on the Snappers. He won't turn 19 until August 31.

The A's are thin at catcher in the minor leagues right now. Midland backstop Ryan Lipkin is on the DL, and he was replaced by Jose Chavez earlier this week. Fellow backstops Nick Rickles and Luke Montz are also rehabbing injuries at extended spring training currently.

On Wednesday, infielder Luis Baez joined the Snappers from extended spring training. Today it was announced that he is replacing infielder Melvin Mercedes, who was placed on the DL. The Snappers also placed left-hander Matt Stalcup on the DL on Thursday. Jaycob Brugman took Stalcup's spot on the Beloit roster. The outfielder had been on Beloit's DL.


Midland Loses On Walk-off

The Midland Rockhounds lost a pitcher's duel on Thursday night, as the Arkansas Travelers won, 3-2, on a walk-off sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Zach Neal got the start and allowed just one unearned run in five innings. He walked three, allowed three hits and struck-out five. Neal has yet to allow an earned run in 10 innings this season.

Murphy Smith allowed a run in two innings of work. He gave-up three hits and one walk, while striking out one. Andrew Werner tossed a scoreless eighth, but he ran into trouble in the ninth. With one-out, Werner allowed a hit to Eric Stamets and then walked the bases loaded. Ryan Dull came on in relief of Werner, looking for the inning-ending double-play. Instead Alex Yarbrough lifted a sacrifice fly to right to win the game.

Midland managed just six hits, but they walked five times. Dusty Coleman had two hits, including a double. He is batting .458. Billy Burns had a hit, a walk and a stolen base, while Josh Whitaker extended his hitting streak to four games with a 1-for-3 night.


Beloit Thumped In Loss To South Bend

The Beloit Snappers fell behind, 4-1, in the first inning and were never able to make-up ground, losing to the Silver Hawks by a score of 8-1.

Beloit managed just six hits and one run. The Snappers combined to strike-out 13 times. Chih-Fang Pan was the only Beloit batter with two hits.

The Snappers' defense struggled, as well. They committed two errors, which led to five unearned runs. Starter Louis Trivino allowed seven runs in 3.1 innings, but only two were earned.


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