Offensive Explosion Paces Sacramento In Division Clincher
Offense is usually never in short supply in Colorado Springs, and things were no different on Friday night, as the Sacramento River Cats and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox combined for 36 hits and 20 runs. Sacramento had 21 of those hits and 12 of those runs to give them a 12-8 win. With the win, the River Cats have clinched the Southern Division title and a spot in the Pacific Coast playoffs for the ninth time in 11 years.
Sacramento's win completed an improbable climb for the River Cats, who were once 12.5 games out of first place. The division title is the River Cats' fourth straight.
Eric Sogard led the way for Sacramento with four hits and three RBIs. He hit his second homerun in as many days, collected two doubles and raised his average to .299. Corey Brown and Matt Watson also added homers for Sacramento. Every River Cats starter had at least one hit and scored at least one run.
Corey Wimberly, Michael Taylor and the newly acquired Jeremy Hermida (more on him later) each had three hits, while Tom Everidge, Watson and Adrian Cardenas added two hits apiece. Taylor and Brown each stole a base, and Wimberly swiped two bags, his 54th and 55th of the season, an on-going record for Sacramento.
It was a rough return to his former stomping grounds for ex-Colorado Rockies ace Jason Jennings, who was making his third start for Sacramento. Jennings allowed six runs on 10 hits in five innings. Edwar Ramirez and John Halama combined to toss 2.1 innings of relief with one run allowed before Fernando Hernandez took over with one out in the eighth inning. He got the final five outs, including the last two on a double-play, to earn his third save.
Sacramento Roster Moves
The River Cats had a number of roster changes on Friday. The team added outfielder Jeremy Hermida, who was signed by the A's as a free agent on Friday. Hermida, once one of the top prospects in all of baseball when he was in the Florida Marlins organization, had spent the entire 2010 season with the Boston Red Sox before he was released earlier this week.
He hit .203 with a 605 OPS in 52 games with Boston this season. In 568 career major league games, Hermida has a .259 average and a 755 OPS. In 410 career minor league games, Hermida is a .284 hitter with an 834 OPS.
The River Cats' catching corps changed on Friday, as Josh Donaldson was activated from the disabled list and Jared Price was placed on the DL. Donaldson, who didn't play on Friday, had been on the DL since August 3rd when he hurt his knee.
Midland Clinches, Seeks Title Defense
The Midland Rockhounds' defense of the Texas League title is officially a go. The Rockhounds defeated the San Antonio Missions on Friday night by a score of 4-2 to clinch the second half title. Midland won the Texas League championship last season for the first time since 2005.
Ryan Edell got the start for Midland and, as he has been for most of his time with the 'Hounds, he was brilliant. In 6.2 innings, Edell allowed two runs on three hits and one walk with 10 strike-outs. The effort moved his record to 9-6 and lowered his ERA to 3.17.
Fautino De Los Santos, Daniel Sattler, Derrick Gordon and Neil Wagner combined to throw 2.1 hitless innings to close out the game for Edell.
On offense, the Rockhounds collected 11 hits. Alexander Valdez, Archie Gilbert, Josh Horton and Matt Sulentic each had multi-hit games. Valdez hit his 13th homerun of the season and Gilbert swiped his team-best 28th base.
Stockton Holds On, Clinches Second Half Crown
One night after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth inning, the Stockton Ports saw an early 7-1 lead nearly evaporate and then a late three-run lead come into danger before finally closing out the Bakersfield Blaze for a 9-8 win. The victory gives the Ports the second half division title. The Ports are 41-26 during the second half. They were 31-39 in the first half.
Stockton traveled to Bakersfield on Friday night to take on the second-place Blaze with their magic number at two. The Ports looked like they would breeze to the division title early on when they scored four runs in the first, with the big blow coming on Jeremy Barfield's 16th homer of the season. Stockton added onto that lead in the second inning when Stephen Parker hit his 21st homer of the season, a three-run shot, to give the Ports a 7-1 lead.
That lead quickly came into danger, as the Blaze scored twice in third and three times in the fourth to move within a run of the Ports. The game remained at 7-6 until the top of the ninth inning, when the Ports would score twice to go up 9-6.
Stockton would need all of those insurance runs, as Paul Smyth allowed a two-run homerun before recording an out in the bottom of the ninth. He retired the next two batters but then gave-up a two-out double to Tommy Mendonca. Smyth was lifted for Scott Hodsdon, who came on and struck-out Doug Hogan. The ball was in the dirt, but catcher Yusuf Carter recovered the ball and threw down to first in time to end the game.
Stockton had 10 hits, with the middle of the order doing the big damage. Grant Green had three hits and Parker, Carter and Barfield added two hits each. Barfield and Parker each finished with three RBIs. Parker needs four RBIs over the last three games of the season to hit the century mark. Barfield (85) and Green (84) both have outside chances of reaching the 90-RBI plateau.
The Ports were also patient on Friday, drawing nine walks. David Thomas, Barfield, Parker and Tyler Ladendorf each drew two walks.
Justin Marks got the start and went only 2.1 innings, as he is on a strict pitch count. Scott Deal earned the win in relief with 3.2 scoreless innings.
Kane County Uses The Force To Inch Closer To Post-Season
On Star Wars night at Elfstrom Stadium, the Kane County Cougars used a three-run rally in the fourth inning and some good pitching to defeat the Peoria Chiefs, 4-2. Kane County is now sitting on a magic number of one to clinch a spot in the post-season. The Cougars also have a .5 game lead in the race for the top playoff spot.
The Cougars managed only four hits, but they made them count. The biggest blow was Rashun Dixon's two-run homer in the fourth inning, his eighth of the year. That homer was part of a three-run fourth inning rally that erased a 2-0 deficit and gave the Cougars a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Chris Mederos earned his seventh win with a strong seven-inning performance. He allowed only two unearned runs on five hits and a walk. He struck-out four. Robert Gilliam worked 1.2 scoreless innings and Jose Guzman struck-out Luis Flores with the tying runs on base to earn his 18th save of the season.
The Day After, Success for Vancouver
One day after clinching the second half division title by splitting a double-header, the Vancouver Canadians came home and looked like champions with a 1-0 win.
Four Vancouver pitchers combined to allow only two hits, two walks and two hit-by-pitches in the shut-out win. Daniel McDaniel got the start and didn't allow a hit in four innings. Pedro Vidal was credited with the win after allowing only two hits in two scoreless innings. Jake Brown (two perfect innings) and Logan Chitwood (a scoreless ninth) closed out the game. Chitwood earned the save by inducing a line-out to third with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
The game's only run came in the fifth inning when Nino Leyja singled with one out and then stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored on Marcos Luis' single.
The C's had only five hits, as many of the team's regulars had the day off. Michael Fabiaschi had the C's only extra-base hit, a double.