The Sacramento River Cats are 82-60 and on their way to the playoffs, but on Saturday night, it was the Fresno Grizzlies who looked like the team headed to the post-season. The Grizzlies rocked Sacramento starter Lenny DiNardo for 15 runs in only three-plus innings and cruised to a 15-0 victory in front of more than 13,000 fans at Raley Field.
There was a big and lively crowd on Saturday night, as the River Cats hosted a special political night at the ballpark. Fans were able to choose a bobblehead of either Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama or Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Whichever candidate's bobblehead ran out first was declared the "winner" of the "election." Obama's bobblehead took 56% and the victory.
The election turned out to be the most exciting part of the game for the River Cats' fans, however. After a 1-2-3 first inning, DiNardo was torched for seven runs in the second, as Fresno batted around. He was then touched for eight runs in the fourth inning without recording an out. Those would be the only two innings in which the Grizzlies would score, but it was more than enough.
"Without those two innings, we'd probably still be playing," Sacramento manager Todd Steverson joked after the game.
The River Cats offense was quiet, managing only four hits - two from Donnie Murphy - and no runs off of Fresno starter Billy Sadowksi and reliever Pat Misch.
The Sacramento bullpen was solid. David Shafer, in particular, was impressive, throwing four innings of scoreless relief to save his bullpen mates after DiNardo's early exit.
"His effort was extremely important," Steverson said. "We've been strapped with some long games lately and everyone can't pitch every day."
The River Cats finish up their regular season this weekend and start their post-season run at home on Wednesday night against the Salt Lake Bees.
Below are photos of the game. All photos by Chris Lockard/Scout.com.
Lenny DiNardo didn't have his best stuff on Saturday.
Travis Buck makes the catch in left.
Brett Hunter hits a three-run homer.
Billy Sadowski got the win for Fresno.
Travis Denker makes a circus catch.
Donnie Murphy takes one for the team.
David Shafer saved the bullpen with four innings of relief.
Despite being down big, the River Cats still played hard.
The Democrats won the political tug-of-war event.
Carlos Gonzalez fouls one off. He went 0-3
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SACRAMENTO - The Sacramento River Cats have been one of the best teams in the Pacific Coast League all season, but Saturday night's contest with the rival Fresno Grizzlies was one to forget. The River Cats lost big, 15-0. We have photos from the game inside...
Sacramento Photo Gallery: 'Cats Lose Big
The River Cats are heading to the playoffs, but Saturday night's game was one to forget.