Komine was the Game One winner.
Despite losing their top hitter to a major league promotion, the now red-hot Sacramento River Cats continued their post-season roll, beating the New Orleans Zephyrs by a score of 5-3. Starter Shane Komine threw six strong innings and Nick Blasi had another big game on offense in the River Cats’ Game One win.
Sacramento got to the Pacific Coast League Championship the hard way, losing the first two games of the Pacific Divisional Series before storming back to win three straight and the series. The River Cats have gotten off to a much better start in the Championship Series, beating the New Orleans Zephyrs by a score of 5-3 in Game One.
Starter Shane Komine worked six strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out four and walked two. It was a much better start for Komine, who was roughed up in his last outing in Game One of the playoff series against the Salt Lake Bees.
The River Cats got off to a good start offensively, scoring single runs in the first and second innings. Nick Blasi and Lou Merloni started off the game by drawing walks. Blasi would eventually come around to score the game’s first run on a Jeremy Brown RBI groundout. It would be the first of three runs scored by Blasi in the game.
The walk proved fortuitous for the River Cats again in the second inning, as Kevin Melillo drew a one-out free pass and eventually came-around to score on a two-out Blasi single to center. Melillo had two walks in the game and the River Cats drew five walks and were hit-by-pitches twice in the game.
Sacramento held a 2-0 lead into the fourth inning. New Orleans cut that lead in half when David Newhan led-off the fourth with a solo homerun off of Komine. Komine would allow another run in the fifth when Anderson Hernandez grounded into a run-scoring double-play with the bases-loaded and no-outs.
The game would remain tied until there were two-outs in the top of the seventh. With two-down and no-one on, Blasi collected his second hit of the night. Merloni followed with a groundball to Hernandez, who threw the ball away trying to force-out Blasi at second. Blasi and Merloni wound-up at second and third, respectively. That brought Jorge Piedra to the plate for the at-bat of the night. Piedra worked the count full and then shot a liner over the second baseman into right-field. Both Blasi and Merloni scored before Piedra himself was thrown-out at second to end the inning, giving the River Cats a 4-2 lead.
Reliever Julio Manon came on for the River Cats in the bottom of the seventh inning and he was very strong in relief of Komine. Manon allowed only one hit and no walks in 1.2 innings of relief. He was relieved by Ron Flores with two-outs and no-one on in the bottom of the eighth inning. Flores came in to face the lefty Newhan. The former A’s farmhand got the best of Flores, however, as Newhan launched his second solo homer of the night, cutting the River Cats’ lead to 4-3.
Sacramento got that run back in the top of the ninth. Blasi doubled to lead-off the inning, his third hit of the night. He reached base four times in the game and is batting .519 in the playoffs. Blasi moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Merloni. After Piedra was intentionally walked, Brown came-up with runners on the corners and one-out. He was unable to get the run home, however, popping out to second. Newcomer Brant Colamarino picked up Brown with a two-out, RBI single to give the River Cats a much needed insurance run. Colamarino, who was promoted from Double-A Midland to take Daric Barton’s place on Sacramento’s roster, went 2-5 in his first Triple-A game since 2005.
Brad Ziegler relieved Flores in the top of the ninth inning and he made quick work of the three right-handed Zephyrs. Ziegler struck out one and lowered his playoff ERA to 2.84. He has finished two of the River Cats’ four playoff wins.
The River Cats play Game Two of the best-of-five series on Wednesday at 5 p.m. PST in New Orleans. Mike Madsen will take the fill for Sacramento. He is scheduled to face Dave Williams.