Barton had a monster game in a losing effort.
The Sacramento River Cats mounted a big and late comeback to send Game One of the Pacific Divisional Playoffs into extra innings. Sacramento even took the lead in the top of the 10th. However, Salt Lake charged back with a rally of their own and the Bees took Game One by a score of 9-8.
On paper, it didn't look like a good pitching match-up for the Sacramento River Cats, who were on the road in Salt Lake for Game One of the Pacific Divisional Series. Salt Lake was sending former Cy Young award winner Bartolo Colon to the hill to face-off with right-hander Shane Komine, who has dominated at home this season, but has struggled on the road.
The starting pitching match-up did end-up favoring the Bees. Colon wasn't flawless in his rehab start for Salt Lake, but he was pretty good. In fact, he may have been great if it weren't for Sacramento first baseman Daric Barton. Colon allowed three runs on five hits in six innings. Three of those five hits came off of the bat of Barton and all three runs were driven-in by Barton.
In the first inning, Barton singled home Nick Blasi, who doubled to start the game. In the third, Barton launched a solo homerun and then hit another solo homerun in the sixth. Barton hit only .236 during the month of August, but he picked a good time to get hot at the plate.
Unfortunately for Sacramento, Barton's offense wasn't enough support for Komine. He allowed a two-run homer to Greg Porter in the second inning and then gave up four runs with two-outs in the fourth inning. Komine went five innings in total, allowing six runs on eight hits.
“Everything was happening off of him with two outs,” DeFrancesco told the River Cats' media department in regards to Komine after the game. “They hit the two-run homer with two outs and got the four runs with two outs.”
Down 6-2 in the sixth, Sacramento began to chip away at the Bees' lead. Barton homered in the sixth inning to cut the lead to three runs. The River Cats failed to score in the seventh, but then came to life in the eighth. With one-out, Blasi doubled for the second time in the game. He then came around to score on a deep triple by Kevin Melillo to straight-away centerfield. Barton then followed Melillo with an RBI ground-out to cut the Salt Lake lead to one-run.
Julio Manon worked scoreless sixth and seventh innings in relief of Komine. He gave way to Brad Ziegler in the eighth. Ziegler worked a scoreless eighth inning to give the River Cats a chance to tie the game in the ninth.
Sacramento would do just that and in dramatic fashion. Jeremy Brown doubled to start the inning. Eddie Cornejo came in to run for Brown. J.D. Closser failed to move Brown over, however, striking out swinging. Gregorio Petit grounded out to short for the second out in the inning, with Cornejo moving to third. Lou Merloni stepped-up with two-outs and played the role of hero, lining a single to left to bring home Cornejo and tie the game.
Ziegler remained in the game for the bottom of the ninth and quickly retired the side in order on three groundballs. Sacramento's offense then quickly got to work in the top of the 10th. Blasi was hit-by-a-pitch to start the inning. After Melillo struck out trying to bunt, Blasi stole second. Barton grounded out for the second out, but Jorge Piedra gave the River Cats the lead by lining a single to right. Richie Robnett then walked to put runners at first and second. Closser singled to right to give Sacramento an 8-6 lead.
That lead would be short-lived, however. Closer Jeff Gray came-on to finish the game, but he didn't have his good stuff on this night. He allowed five consecutive singles without recording an out. That gave the Bees three runs and a walk-off win. Brandon Wood had the game-winning hit for Salt Lake.
“Gray’s been our man,” DeFrancesco told the River Cats' media department from the visitor’s clubhouse. “The combination has worked all year [but] today it just didn’t work.”
Barton was the player of the game for Sacramento. He went 3-5 with four RBI and two homeruns. Blasi also had a big game, going 2-4 with three runs scored. Closser had two hits in five at-bats.
Sacramento will try to even the series on Thursday. They will send Mike Madsen to the hill.
The River Cats' media department contributed to this report.