Putnam had a big Midland debut.
Newly promoted outfielder Danny Putnam homered and drove in two runs, but the Midland Rockhounds couldn’t overcome a three-run fifth inning and lost the first game of the Texas League playoff series to San Antonio, 3-2. Midland starter Shane Komine was outstanding, but he was stuck with a tough-luck loss. In Vancouver, the Canadians also struggled to score, but they didn’t need much offense to clinch a playoff spot in a 2-1 win over Salem-Keizer.
The Midland-San Antonio game was scoreless going into the top of the fifth inning, when Rockhounds’ starter Shane Komine immediately found himself in trouble. Komine walked the lead-off hitter, Gary Harris, and Harris moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jesus Guzman. Harris came around to score on Jon Nelson’s double to right. It was at this point that the inning got away from Komine and the Rockhound defense.
The diminutive righty uncorked a wild pitch, which advanced Nelson to third. Komine recovered to induce Luis Oliveros into grounding to third. It appeared that Midland third baseman Francis Gomez would have a shot to throw out Nelson at the plate, but he uncorked a wild throw, allowing Nelson to score. Ismael Castro then doubled Oliveros to third, although Castro himself was thrown out at second by right-fielder Jason Perry. Perry would have two outfield assists in the game. Komine couldn’t wiggle out of the jam, however, as Jamie Bubela singled up the middle to drive in what would eventually be the winning run.
The Rockhounds wouldn’t go quietly, however. Down 3-0 going into the bottom of the fifth, catcher Jeremy Brown doubled to lead-off the inning. After Perry struck out, left-fielder Danny Putnam singled to left to drive in the Rockhounds’ first run of the game. However, the rally died there, as Putnam was gunned down trying to advance to second on the single.
Midland went quietly until the 8th, when Putnam began the inning with a homerun to right to cut the Missions’ lead in half at 3-2. The Rockhounds would have a chance to tie the game when Gomez walked with one-out and advanced to second on Steve Stanley’s ground out. Gomez then moved to third on a passed ball, but Kevin Melillo struck out swinging to end the inning.
In the ninth, Midland would have another chance to tie and/or win the game. With one-out, Brian Stavisky drew a walk. Brown struck out swinging for the second out of the inning, but Perry reached on catcher’s interference to give the Rockhounds runners at first and second with two outs. Putnam came to the plate and watched as both runners advanced on a balk. However, the AA rookie couldn’t come through for a third time, as he struck out to end the game.
Komine finished the game as the unlucky loser, throwing six innings. He allowed one earned run (three total), while striking out five and walking three. Relievers Shawn Kohn and Nick Mattioni combined to throw three scoreless innings to keep the Rockhounds in the game. Brown and Putnam were the only Rockhounds to have more than one hit in the game, as the Midland offense was held to just six hits. Mike Nannini is scheduled to go for the Rockhounds in Game Two tomorrow night. The series is a best-of-five.
Vancouver Clinches With Well Pitched Win
The Vancouver Canadians’ season has been all about pitching this year, so it was only appropriate that they would clinch the division title thanks to a pitching masterpiece. Starter Jimmy Shull combined with four Canadian relievers to hold Salem-Keizer to just one run and capture the division-clinching 2-1 win.
The Canadians came into this final regular season series needing one win to clinch the division title. After losing on Monday, the C’s were staring down the possibility of having to win on the season’s final day if they couldn’t win on Tuesday. Fortunately for Vancouver, it wouldn’t have to come to that.
Salem-Keizer struck first with a run in the third inning on a two-out single by Jose Yens. The C’s would respond with some two-out magic of their own in the bottom of the fourth. Haas Pratt doubled with one out and came around to score with two away on a bloop single to right by Steve Kleen.
The Canadians would take the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Justin Sellers started the inning by reaching all the way to second on a throwing error by Salem third baseman Pablo Sandoval. The next two hitters would fail to advance Sellers, but Jose Garcia played the hero and lined a run-scoring single to center.
The C’s would have to fight off a Salem-Keizer rally in the next half-inning. Danielin Acevedo came on to replace Shull, who left after throwing six strong innings. Shull struck out seven and walked only one in his effort. Acevedo’s outing got off to a rough start when he allowed a lead-off single to Chris Stanton. Andy Busch advanced Stanton to second on a sacrifice bunt, ending Acevedo’s night. Super-reliever Brad Davis came on and induced Benj Copeland to fly out to left for the second out. The Canadians then rolled the dice and had Davis intentionally walk Michael Mooney. Jason Ray took over for Davis and struck out Mark Minicozzi to end the Salem-Keizer threat.
Ray would then strike out two in a one-two-three eighth inning. After the Canadians failed to add any insurance in the bottom of the eighth (despite having runners at second and third with one out), closer Brad Kilby came on to clinch the title for the C’s. He induced a fly-ball out to left-fielder Andre Piper-Jordan, who had just entered the game as a defensive replacement in the top of the inning. Then Kilby struck out the final two batters to give the C’s the division title. The save was Kilby’s 14th game of the seaon. The ERAs of the final three Canadian relievers in Tuesday’s game were 0.52 (Davis), 2.12 (Ray) and 1.95 (Kilby).