April 1, 2019
I didn’t sleep well at all last night. A little nervous and a lot of excited. Today was Media Day for the River Cats and they were scheduled to play a scrimmage against the San Jose Giants, whose roster included Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos, San Francisco’s top two prospects. The day had been overcast after a beautiful weekend; it was like winter came back and said, “One more thing…” In theory Media Day is when we all get a chance to talk to the players on the team and ask them questions about the upcoming season. What seems to happen though is that the “stars” do their best to avoid the locker room, and the other players make themselves busy knowing that most of us won’t be jerks and bother them while they’re playing cards or eating. You are left with players that we didn’t do enough research on or the guys who don’t speak English; pretty lucky for me since I also speak Spanish. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the opportunity, you walk away with great content, and the players who do make themselves available to be interviewed are very gracious and open with you, but for the most part you just stand around uncomfortably making small talk with other reporters. This year I spent some time talking with Aramis Garcia, who was expected to be Buster Posey’s backup going into the season, but just days before opening day he was optioned to the River Cats when the Giants picked up Tommy Murphy and Erik Kratz. When I asked Aramis about the situation he stated,
“You know, honestly, those decisions are very tough decisions. I try to focus on the things I can control. At the end of the day, I wasn’t necessarily happy with the decision, but you have to respect it. I realize that I ultimately have a job to do, and they ultimately want me to play. So, the timing wasn’t right, but I’m here, I’m happy to be here, and I’m ready to go”.
Following our time with the players, we were treated to some of the new food that will be served at Raley Field this season. We tasted three new dishes: Baja Fresh fish tacos, a vegan taco with a red bean base “meat”, and an amazing Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwich. While we were eating, the rain became steady, and the grounds crew needed to pull out the tarp. Would we have baseball today? After all, it is April Fool’s.
Just after six, the team started to lineup on the third baseline. I wasn’t expecting the game, and San Jose wasn’t even on the field, so I was a little confused. It was at this time the PA announcer introduced the crowd who had been braving the weather to a young man named Alex, a Make-A-Wish child who wanted to be a River Cat. After the announcement, we were told that the game had been cancelled due to the weather. I stayed a little longer to catch up with some of the people I had gotten to know the year before. There have not been many rainouts at Raley Field, and although this was just a scrimmage, I hope it’s not a sign of what’s to come this season. The weather forecast shows that this rain isn’t going to slow up until possibly Saturday with the season set to start this Thursday. The only reason, I would be cheering two more games being rained out is that April 6 would mark the actual Anniversary of the River Cats first game.
There are plenty of returning players who have worn the River Cats uniform over the past couple of years on the team this year, but the biggest surprise was not so much who was on the team, but who was left off. Chris Shaw, fan favorite, and organizational home run leader for the past two years had been sent down to Double-A in the spring. We did not expect him to make the big club, but Double-A? That was a shock. It was an unexpected blow to fans and even more so to Chris who called it “the biggest blindside” he’d ever had in his life.
April 2, 2019
No game today, and I mean no scrimmage in San Jose. That one was cancelled for the weather as well. There was some River Cats/Giants new today. Derek Law was part of a five-player package that allowed the Giants to bring Kevin Pillar in from Toronto. Just last night in Sacramento Derek was riding around the clubhouse on a scooter. Up in the big club, Madison Bumgarner gives up a grand slam to Cody Bellinger, and then comes back to hit a home run later in the game. I’m taking bets that Bumgarner will lead the Giants in home runs this year.
April 4, 2019
No one wants to be in Triple-A. Maybe they won’t say it, and their response will be something like “I’m doing what I have to for the team”, or whatever canned response they learn to give, but really no one wants to be here. Sure, they’re still glad they have a job playing baseball, and they are one step away from “The Show”, but that’s pretty much it, you’re not there. Many of the players in Triple-A have already had that cup of coffee, and the experience they say is night and day. Today is Opening Night for the River Cats, their milestone twentieth season as a franchise, and today it felt like no one wanted to be in Triple-A.
There is a low energy crowd tonight, the sky was gray and overcast, and I just overheard someone say, “Mike Yastrzemski, he must be Carl’s brother”. The new extended netting that was put up to protect the fans from foul balls really takes away from the atmosphere which is, was Raley Field. The one constant though is that the smells of the ballpark stay the same; the hot dogs, the beer, and even the popcorn smells a little sweeter.
Andrew Suarez is making his second Opening Day start for the River Cats, and he is facing Erik Swanson, one of Seattle’s top prospects. Speaking of Andrew Suarez, does anyone else think he looks a little like Rowan Atkinson, AKA Mr. Bean? No? Yes? Is it just me?
The first pitch of 2019 is a ball, but the Rainiers have come out swinging with leadoff hitter Braden Bishop starting the game off with a double off of Suarez, followed by a swinging bunt to third by Eric Young Jr who no one gets to and he reaches safely. Suarez was able to get J.P. Crawford to hit a soft line drive to Abiatal Avelino who flips it to first for a double play and Jose Lobaton flies out to end it, and the season has officially begun.
Mike Gerber, an International League All Star for Toledo last year is the first batter for the River Cats in 2020, and he goes down swinging. The Cats go down in order in the bottom half of the inning, and aside from Henry Ramos getting the first River Cats hit in the second with a double as Eric Young Jr loses the ball in the lights and it lands about 15 feet in front of him, otherwise the Cats have been shut down by Swanson.
The long standing between inning tradition of the Super Cuts Super Catch goes well tonight as the participant, Armando, caught all three balls to earn himself a free haircut. I was lucky enough to do this once, back when they gave money away per catch in increments of $25, $50, and $100. It was an exhibition game between the River Cats and the Colorado Rockies in 2004. I was walking into the ballpark when someone asked if I wanted to do an on-field promotion, I excitedly said sure. When it was finally time for the challenge, I was ready, or so I thought. The first ball fell way short, which I would later learn is what they usually do. The second ball I just dropped, in and out of the glove, E9, my bad. I was down to one last ball. The Rockies were taking the field, Royce Clayton who was playing shortstop for Colorado, shouted “Back, back” and I bolted as fast as I possibly could. I felt that I wasn’t going to catch up with this ball, so I Hail Mary’d myself, glove out and prayed for a miracle, and whodda thunk it? The ball went into my glove, and I made a diving catch in right field in front of a sold out crowd. I was excited, but as I was running off the field, standing in foul territory because he wasn’t in the game was Hall of Famer Larry Walker. He looked at me and said, “Nice catch”; I was floored, and simply replied “Thanks”.
The Rainiers would draw first blood tonight as Suarez walked Joey Curletta to lead off the third inning, followed by a couple singles, and then a double from Wilton native and former River Cat David Freitas to bring in the first run of the game for the Rainiers. A groundball by Kristopher Negron, another local area product, makes it 2-0 Tacoma. The inning ended when Tito Polo lined into a double play that gets Freitas out at second.
Pat Venditte takes over for Suarez here in the fifth and I’m excited to watch him pitch for the first time in person. Venditte is the switch pitcher who came up through the Yankees system and has a rule named after him because of his ability to switch pitch and has a glove that fits both hands. If you’re not familiar with the rule, it states that the pitcher must indicate to the umpire, and batter which arm he will be pitching with; and the batter can then choose which side of the plate he will bat from. This rule also allows the batter or pitcher to change sides, once per at bat, after at least one pitch being thrown.
Watching this game remind of the classic baseball movie, “Major League”. Ok, the River Cats don’t look that bad, but it kind of feels the same tonight.
The crowd finally came alive when Carmichal’s Zach Green made his first plate appearance tonight after coming in for Ryder Jones and hits a stand up triple. Green scores when Ramos hits a hot shot to first baseman Curletta, who made a nice diving stop but then throws it away allowing Ramos to go to second making it 2-1 Rainiers.
It’s the eighth inning and fans are starting to roll out of here in droves. Where are we, Los Angeles? The Rainiers pick up another run in the eighth and the score is 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth, and the River Cats down to our last three outs. Most of those around me are preparing for the loss and to call it a day; Mike Yastrzemski had other plans. With two on, Yaz cracked a double scoring both Henry Ramos and Breyvic Valera; game tied.
This would be the first time in River Cats history that Opening Day has gone into extra innings. This is also the first time that we get to see the new change in Minor League Baseball, by starting a runner at second base in extra innings. I must admit it took a while to get used to when I first learned about this rule in tournament softball, but it would grow on me, and I found it to be exciting. The move proved to be exciting tonight as well.
The Rainiers pulled ahead in the top of the eleventh and it was a gut punch, but the few remaining fans who stayed got to see some exciting baseball in the bottom half of the inning. Henry Ramos was the runner on second, and Aramis Garcia quickly knocked him in with a double. Garcia was followed by Breyvic Valera who hit a ball hard to the outfield. Garcia raced home while the ball came in, but Garcia dives into home to score the winning run! The team rushes the field to mob tonight’s hero Breyvic Valera. Forget about the rain we had this past week because now that the games matter, could THIS be the sign of what’s to come? Most of the River Cats on this roster aren’t players that are talked about around the dinner table every night, but it looks like they have some boys who can play ball.
April 5, 2019
I talked to Manager Dave Brundage last season about how the health of the San Francisco Giants players impacts what happens with the River Cats. In 2018, Once the River Cats season got underway, three of the Giants starting pitchers went down with injuries which impacted the rest of the season for the River Cats en route to their worst record in team history. One of the pitchers who took advantage of this opportunity, and made his Major League debut last year, was Tyler Beede who gets the ball tonight. There is no way around it, Beede had a lousy 2018 with the River Cats going 4-9 with an ERA over 7.00. Once he came back down from his stint with the Giants, he was sent to the bullpen, with what also appeared to be a different delivery. Tonight’s the first time we get to see how it all plays out for 2019.
Beede’s first pitch is in for a strike on Braden Bishop, but Bishop quickly follows that up with a double on the next pitch. Beede gets Eric Young Jr to strikeout and Shed Long follows up with a deep hit into short where Avelino knocks it down and tries to get Bishop at third but not in time. Nice play by Avelino to even get there. That will bring up Lobaton who went 0-5 last night, and Beede gets him out for his second strikeout of the night.
Shed takes off for second…Vogt fakes the throw down and Bishop is caught up between home and third! Vogt throws to Donovan Solano who flips to Beede and back to Avelino for the out. An exciting end to the inning.
Henry Ramos leads things off, and he’ll be facing former River Cat Tommy Milone.
Ramos flies out for the first out. Avelino with a shot into the right center alley and he slides into third with a triple! Vogt with the swinging bunt dribbles in Avelino and its 1-0 River Cats, two down as the Rainiers get the easy out at first.
Anthony Garcia goes down swinging to end the inning with the Cats on top.
The tops half of the second starts off with Joey Curletta who was up to bat when Bishop was caught up at third for the last out of the first. Easy 1-2-3 for Beede and he picks up two more strikeouts for four tonight so far.
Slater starts the bottom half of the second with a strikeout.
Making his River Cats debut is Michael Reed who just was sent down yesterday by the Giants to make room for Kevin Pillar. Funny thing I actually follow Reed’s sister on Instagram and I had no clue they were related. She is an amazing photographer out of Texas, and you can find her on Instagram under Laura Stiles Photo, but I digress. Reed walks in his first at bat and he is followed by Donovan Solano who is also making his River Cats debut and flies out to center.
Zach Green pops up to short right and Lopes can’t find the ball in the lights as the outfielders scramble but no one gets it! Reed scores from first, and Green goes into second with a double! The Cats extend their lead to 2-0. Valera walks, and Ramos strikes out to end the inning.
It’s starting to sprinkle.
Another easy inning here for Beede in the top of the third, and aside from a walk he picks up another two strike outs for six on the night. Beede is having the best performance I’ve personally seen of him tonight going back to 2017 when I first saw him pitch here in Sacramento.
The crowd was left with an interesting skit by River Cats mascot Dinger between innings. I’m not even sure what to say besides that there was a rose, pies to the face and broken hearts.
Stephen Vogt gets the River Cats first home run of the season in the bottom of the third to make it 3-0. Austin Slater is hit by a pitch, and scores from first on a double off the bat of Michael Reed, who is brought is by Solano. This brings out Rainiers pitching coach Lance Painter to check on Milone. Valera grounds out to short to end the inning.
Mac Williamson is in the dugout after having been sent down by the Giants. He was the odd man out in a tight outfield.
After giving up a leadoff walk to Shed Long, Beede gets two more strikeouts to close out the fourth with 8 strikeouts on the night. What an outing for Tyler to start the season!
The Cats go down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the fourth and that will be it for Tyler Beede tonight as Chase Johnson comes in to replace him going into the top half of the fifth.
After striking out Austin Nola, Johnson gives up a double to Ian Miller. Wild pitch and Miller goes to third. Johnson isn’t looking sharp out there as he walks Bishop. Eric Young grounds into a force out at second which scores Miller and there goes the shutout. Long with an easy pop up to Slater in left, and Slater misses the ball and then slips on the grass, Young scores and its 5-2. Lobaton flies to center to end the inning.
Ryan Garton comes in for Tacoma to replace Milone here in the fifth and gives up a single to Anthony Garcia. Garton makes easy work of Slater and Reed which brings up Solano who right away gets two strikes on him. Garcia takes off from first, a surprise move from the hefty outfielder, who is thrown out at second to end the inning.
The Rainiers have come out hot here in the top of the sixth. Three singles, and a walk have the bases loaded and one run has scored and there is still only one out from a nice play be Avelino. The score is now 5-3. This brings out pitching coach Steve Kline to talk to Johnson.
Braden Bishop come up with the bases loaded and hits a grounder to Avelino who can’t make the play and holds on to the ball, Lopes scores to make it 5-4. Eric Young hits a sac fly to Slater and the game is now tied, and that’s it for Johnson as Brundage is going to the bullpen. Despite having a five run lead Chase Johnson lets it slip away with five hits in two innings.
Carlos Navas replaces Johnson who pops up Shed Long with one pitch. The damage is done and its 5-5 going into the bottom half of inning. The Cats go down 1-2-3 and its still tied after six.
Navas gets Lobaton to go down on strikes to start the seventh, so we’re starting this inning off on the right foot. Well, I spoke too soon as Joey Curletta just put the Rainiers on top with a solo home run to right center and Tacoma now leads 6-5. Navas keeps the Rainiers quiet to end the inning, and due up in the bottom half of the inning is the top of the order for the Cats, Ramos, Avelino, and Vogt.
Ramos starts off the inning with a single, but that’s easily erased, as Avelino grounds into a double play to his counterpart JP Crawford. Vogt gets himself a walk, and that will be it for Garton as the Rainiers bring in Dan Altavilla.
The River Cats have something going now as both Garcia and Slater walk to load the bases for Michael Reed. This would be a good time to really introduce himself here to the fans. Reed strikes out on a slider and that ends the inning. On to the eighth.
The Rainiers go down 1-2-3 for the first time since Beede was in the game, and Solano, Green, and Valera coming up.
The Rainiers bring in RJ Alaniz after Altavilla hits Solano on the hand to start the bottom half of the inning. Green walks on four straight from Alaniz and they may have something going here in the bottom of the eight. Another comeback? Let’s hope so. Valera hits it back up the middle off of Alaniz’ glove, and a diving play behind second by JP Crawford who flips to second and gets Green on the force play while Solano moves over to third. Amazing play by Crawford. This kid looks like he can be a Gold Glove winner someday. Henry Ramos at the plate now and he quickly goes down swinging on three pitches. Same outcome for Avelino to end the inning, and the River Cats threaten but they will be down to their last three out.
The ninth went by quick as both teams went down in order, and Tacoma’s Alaniz struck out the side to end the game. Cats lose this one 6-5 after having a 5-0 lead. Luckily there wasn’t anyone here to watch.
The Cats look good this year offensively, but I’m starting to wonder what the bullpen will be like. Chase Johnson blew a 5-0 lead tonight in 1.2 innings after relieving Beede in the fifthafter his amazing performance. Carlos Nava quickly gave up a home run to Joey Curletta which would prove to be the game winner, but he did strike out five while walking none, so he may be one to keep a closer eye on as the year goes on. Everyone is playing good defense so far, but I’m most excited to see Avelino who is a slick shortstop, with a pretty good little bat and occasional power.
A couple of take aways from tonight was that the attendance was only 5,560. Ouch. Probably had to do with the weather, but still not a good sign for the Opening weekend. I remember a horrible downpour the first weekend of the 2003 season and the place was packed while we all huddled to see if the game would go on, and it would. I was also impressed with Rainier’s reliever R.J. Alaniz. This guy struck out the last five River Cats to close out the game. I ended my own night with an embarrassing moment when I tweeted out Beede’s final line score, and tagged some dude named Tyler Beebe, not Beede. D’oh!
April 6, 2019
Today is the actual anniversary of the first River Cats game back in 2000 as they took on the then San Francisco Giants’ affiliate Fresno Grizzlies. It was the beginning of what would become 40 days, and 37 games on the road for the River Cats as Raley Field was not yet complete. The team was managed by Bob Geren and featured Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Eric Byrnes, AJ Hinch, and the 2000 Pacific Coast League MVP Jose Ortiz. The Grizzlies would pound Mark Mulder and the River Cats that day by a score of 10-4.
A little house cleaning for today, Ryder Jones is put on the 7-day Injured List today, after coming out early on opening night. Mac Williamson was also activated today after clearing waivers and is batting fourth tonight. Here at the ballpark its First Responders Night and the River Cats are wearing special hats. On a side note, as a guitar player, I REALLY hate when the National Anthem is played on guitar as it was tonight here at Raley Field. They guy did a good job, but everyone wants to be Jimi Hendrix and it’s just not happening.
Shaun Anderson is making his season debut tonight and will be facing Tyler Danish for Tacoma. Outside of a leadoff hit to Braden Bishop who is just on fire to start the season, Anderson gets out of the first easily.
The sound guys are having some fun here between innings as they are playing “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison in honor of Mac Williamson’s return to Sacramento. Mac will be due up fourth this inning. Starting things off is Mike Gerber who quickly gets things going with a single up the middle. Danish immediately gives up a single to Avelino and the River Cats have something going here in the first. Bases loaded now as Anthony Garcia walks, and here is the return of the Mac and the crowd goes wild. On the first pitch Mac goes up the middle and gets two RBI as Gerber and Avelino score.
There are two “A.Garcia”s in the River Cats lineup, and Aramis goes down swinging. One out. Donovan Solano up to bat now; Danish turns to throw to second in an attempt to pick off ANTHONY Garcia but the ball slips out of his hand and rolls to shortstop JP Crawford who fields that cleanly. Solano singles to left and its 3-0 River Cats and there is still only one out. That will bring up Mike Yastrzemski who comes up clutch again with a sac fly to score Mac Williamson and the Cats go up 4-0. That will be it for the Cats as Zach Green ends the inning with a ground out to short stop.
Anderson gets two quick outs in the second before giving up a solo home run to Austin Nola but makes quick work of Ian Miller for his second strike out of the night, Cats still lead 4-1. The River Cats don’t do much in their half of the inning as they go down in order. Anderson is looking good tonight as he makes quick work of the top of the lineup for Tacoma and gets two more strikeouts in this three up, three down inning.
Anthony Garcia starts off the bottom half of the third with a walk bringing up Mac Williamson who pop up for the first out. Aramis Garcia up to bat and hits one to left center for a two run 435 foot shot to extend the lead to 6-1. The Cats keep swinging as Solano gets a hit up the middle bringing up Yastrzemski. Yaz with a hard liner down the first base line that stays fair and goes all the way to the wall! Solano will score from first as Yaz rolls into third with a triple and its 7-1 River Cats.
The stadiums sound crew continue to have some problems in the booth tonight as they started playing Black Sabbath’s Crazy Train just as Yastrzemski was rounding first and the play was still live.
Zach Green singles on a line drive to left scoring Yastrzemski and its 8-1 River Cats. Breyvic Valera who had been the only starter not to get on base in this game, goes deep for a two-run home run and its 10-1 River Cats!
That is it for Tyler Danish tonight, and the Rainiers are bringing in Tayler Scott who is originally from South Africa. Mike Gerber continues the hot hitting with a single. Avelino hits a light chopper to Scott who throws to second to start a double play, but he throws it into centerfield! That ball had 1-4-3 written all over it but what a break as everything is going wrong for Tacoma. Scott settles down to get Anthony Garcia and Mac Williamson to ground out to end the inning.
Another 1-2-3 inning for Anderson.
Aramis Garcia starts the fourth with a walk, but that is quickly erased as Donovan Solano lines it right back to Scott who throws to first to double up Aramis. Yastrzemski chops one right up the middle for a single which brings up Zach Green. Green with the shot to deep center over the head of Ian Miller and Yaz scores from first to make it 11-1 as Green cruises into second with a double. That will be it as Valera grounds out to shortstop ending the inning.
Kristopher Negron starts the fifth with a strikeout giving Anderson five on the night. Anderson seems to be losing a little control here as he just walked Austin Nola, and then throws a wild pitch to Ian Miller that allows Nola to get to second. Miller hits a ball to first that bounces off the foot of Zach Green for an error and Nola comes in to score to make it 11-2 here in the fifth. Braden Bishop grounds into a fielder’s choice as Avelino gets the lead runner at second for the second out. Another wild pitch by Anderson and Bishop goes to second. Luckily that is all the damage as Tim Lopes grounds out to end the inning. This might be the end of Anderson after that inning as he is looking a little wild and has reached 76 pitches on the night. A nice strong performance by Shaun.
Top of the order here in the bottom of the fifth for the River Cats against Scott, and Gerber starts things off with a walk, and up comes Avelino. The first pitch to Avelino is wild and Gerber moves to second, it has been a tough night for the Rainier pitchers. Avelino grounds out to second, moving Gerber to third with one down. Anthony Garcia pops up for out number two. Mac Williamson is coming up to bat and that is it for Tayler Scott as Tacoma brings in Robinson Leyer. Leyer walks Williamson on four straight pitchers, but Aramis Garcia flies out to center to end the inning.
As suspected, that last inning was the end of the night for Shaun Anderson as he is replaced by Steven Okert. Shed Long picks up a hit to start the inning and that brings up Joey Curletta who is 0-2, make that 0-3 tonight as he flies out to right. JP Crawford singles to right and Long heads to third, so there are runners on the corners for David Freitas. Okert strikes him out! Two down and Kristopher Negron comes to bat. Negron to right center, Williamson has a long way to go but its gone; a three run home run makes it 11-5 River Cats here in the top of the sixth. Okert regroups and strikes out Austin Nola to end the inning, but the damage is done.
Well the rest of the game went by pretty quick with very little action and the River Cats pull this off with a final score of 11-5. It was the second night in a row that the River Cats were able to get a big lead, but unlike yesterday’s outing, the River Cats were able to hold on, behind the pitching of Shaun Anderson, Steven Okert, Tyler Rogers and Ray Black.
April 7, 2019
Outside of Opening Day, this was the first game I was excited to come to. I love baseball, and I love watching prospects. Today, Justus Sheffield is scheduled to pitch for Tacoma. A player who I’ve heard about since his days in high school, and who made his Major League debut last season with the Yankees before being shipped to Seattle in the James Paxton deal. Sheffield was doing pretty well, until he wasn’t. The River Cats were down 3-1 when they began to claw their way back with Zach Green’s first home run in the third, and Stephen Vogt hit a two-run blast to put the River Cats ahead 4-3 in the fifth. The runs kept coming in the sixth as the River Cats plated five runs, and it started with Austin Slater reaching on a dropped third strike.
This team is hot. They field, they hit, the starting pitching looks good, my only concern at this point in the season is still the bullpen. So far so good in this game with Venditte, and Jerez.
Green hits his second home run of the game and that one that 414 feet. Playing at Raley Field really seems to bring out the best in Sacramento grown players. Zach grew up in Carmichael and went to high school at Jesuit. He is batting .500 through the first four games with two home runs. Last season when Elk Grove’s J.D. Davis paid a visit while he was playing for Houston’s Triple-A team the Fresno Grizzlies, that series was nothing but a highlight reel for him including a two-homer game in his Raley Field debut as a professional. Davis spoke of that night and said,
“I was pretty loose seeing all of the familiar faces, I wasn’t as tight as I’d normally be. I get nervous before every game…but I was pretty loose and just saying hi to everyone before the game”. When asked about his thoughts after hitting the second home run, he replied, “I was like, oh, wow, that actually went out…I’ll take it”.
There is definitely something in the air for the hometown boys who play at Raley Field.
The River Cats scored 10 runs tonight, and with that have 31 runs scored on the season which ranks second to the scorching hot Las Vegas Aviators.
April 8, 2019
Noon game today, and I had to drop my car off at the shop. I tried to use a Jump Bike to get to Raley Field from the repair shop, but the bike I was standing next to didn’t seem to be in service, so Uber it was, and I was still late.
I get to the game in the third inning, in time to watch Donovan Solano get hit by a pitch, and the sound was clearly ball on flesh. The ball careened into fair territory and called in play by home plate umpire JJ January. Tacoma’s pitcher Nabil Crismatt picks it up and throws to first for the out. Gerber and Avelino both advance on the play but it was a tough at bat and out for Solano who would end up leaving the game to get looked at.
Garcia then knocks in Gerber and Avelino and the Cats are off to a nice start leading 3-0 after 3. It took the Rainiers all but one time through the line up before they figured out Enderson Franco today who gave up four runs in the top half of the fourth including a three-run home run to Jose Loboton.
Carlos Navas replaces Franco and quickly gives up another run. Luckily, he picks off Shed Long at first, and retires Curletta for the final out of the inning. The Cats were able to claw their way back and take the lead in the seventh with back-to-back home runs by Mike Gerber, and Abiatal Avelino making it 8-7. This seesaw battle would go on. The Rainiers would tie the game in the eighth with a home run from J.P. Crawford, and then take the lead in the top half of the tenthtied at 9-9.
Henry Ramos would start at second base in the bottom half of the inning and Austin Slater walks. Next up, Michael Reed doubles, Ramos scores while Slater is stopped at third. Everyone left in the ballpark has their fingers crossed and their hearts stopped in anticipation. Mike Yastrzemski gets just enough of the next pitch deep enough to left field that allows Slater to score and the River Cats win! What a game; another extra inning walk off! Once again, the relievers show the teams weakness. The poor pitching alone makes for interesting baseball.
On my way out, I noticed more Jump Bikes outside the ballpark, so I gave it another go. This time it works, and in short, I did not care for it. I will leave it to the suicidal drunks who ride around midtown on the weekends.
April 9, 2019
The River Cats are out of town for the next week, Las Vegas followed by Salt Lake. I see that San Jose is playing in Stockton today though, so I decide to take a trip down there and catch a peek at Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart. Those two did not disappoint. Ramos hit a two-run home run in the sixth which ended up being the game winner, and Bart got a double and scored a run in his first at bat. Defensively Bart made two great tags at the plate, including saving the tying run in the bottom of the ninth by tagging out Nick Allen. The game ended in a crazy fashion. The Ports’ Austin Beck pops the ball up just in front of home plate. Bart is trying to get under it, but then shouts out that he needs help. Lazaro Armenteros who was on third crosses home, Beck watches as he assumes the game is over once the ball is caught but it drops between Bart and pitcher Isreal Cruz. Austin Beck sprints to first once he sees that they did not catch the ball, but he is thrown out by Cruz and that’s the ball game. Exciting as it was to watch some of the Giants top prospects have a great day, I want to mention Oakland’s Lazaro Armenteros. When he came up for his first at bat, I thought to myself, “I wonder if this guy is as good as they say he is”? A few pitches later, he showed me that he was by sending a pitch deep into centerfield for a home run.
Once I got home, I was having a really hard time connecting to the game in Vegas today from MiLB.TV. This was a part of the project I didn’t think too much about. I figured I would just watch every away game online, but it seems a lot more difficult than I imagined. I may need to go with listening on the radio instead.
This was a big day for Vegas, as it was their home opener in their new ballpark, Las Vegas Ballpark, and their new affiliation with the Oakland A’s, and their new name the Aviators. As with everything in Vegas, this night was a spectacle, and that’s not counting the pool just beyond the outfield. The team introductions were kind of a mess for the River Cats, and it seemed obvious no one told them what to expect, and some of the non-starters were not even introduced. When Avelino was introduced, the non-starters started to make room for the starters on the third baseline and walked away from the coaches. Avelino not knowing what to do stood in his spot and waved goodbye to them. When Stephen Vogt was introduced, he stopped for a second, and then ran to the end of the line to shake everyone else’s hand as well. The cool thing was having an instrumental of Folsom Prison Blues playing in the background. The intro clip for Las Vegas sounds awesome, but since I’m watching this game online, I’m not sure what is going on, but it ends with a pilot saying, “Las Vegas we are clear for takeoff”. Oh, and there are cheerleaders in Vegas, this isn’t new, they were at old Cashman Field too. Former River Cats player Eric Martins is now on the coaching staff in Las Vegas, and pitching coach is Rich Rodriguez who spent many years in Sacramento with that position as well.
Chris Bassitt on a Major League rehab started the game for Las Vegas. Mike Gerber jumped on Bassitt right away hitting a double to right on the second pitch of the game.
Whoa! I thought there was poor lighting or something from the camera that was behind home plate, but its dust in the air! It looks to be windy and from another angle you see some major dust flurries flying around.
Bassitt has walked the bases loaded in the first for Mac Williamson, who becomes the first strikeout in Las Vegas Ballpark history; but all good things must come to an end, and he walks Michael Reed who gets the RBI for the River Cats first run. Mike Gerber will go down as scoring the first run in Las Vegas Ballpark history.
Five run second for the Aviators. Im not going to say that the River Cats fell apart because aside from an error by Valera who booted a ball and allowed a run to score, the Aviators just singled their way to five runs. Hit ‘em where they ain’t.
I wonder how much the wind played a part in this game or did the team show up in Vegas last night and decide to party it up at the Red Rock Casino?
Oops, I think I just jinxed them. Sheldon Neuse just hit a ball off the top of the right field wall for a triple, but the throw in was errant and allowed Neuse to score.
Simply put, Bassitt and Daniel Mengden shut the Cats down for the rest of the game on two hits, so not a whole lot to write on. There was one little incident though. Umpire Tom Woodring would become the villain of the night as he disrespected Finn the Bat Dog by not letting him do his job, and the fans in stands and across social media let him know. Finn was on his way to do his job and pick up a bat when Woodring picked it up and threw it off to the side which caused a stir in the Ballpark with a round of boos. Finn didn’t seem to be too upset as he just thought he was playing fetch. The best part of the whole thing was watching Aramis Garcia watch it all go down like, “Hey, that’s the dog’s job”.
April 10, 2019
Well, the River Cats scored first so that something right? The team seems to have left their bats in Sacramento, and Tyler Beede just didn’t have it tonight. Top that off with Valera having some issues with his glove, two errors tonight, and that recipe does not produce wins. The River Cats had scored 42 runs through their first five games, but Las Vegas has held them to three in this series. Most of those by Mike Yastrzemski who is the only River Cats player this year to still have a hit in every game he’s played this season. Shaun Anderson on the bump tomorrow, let’s hope they can pull something out of this series before heading to Salt Lake for the weekend.
April 11, 2019
Started streaming the game today when I hear this goes over the air, “I’m back Bobby, its just that I’m being deluged with idiots who are trying to text me on every kind of thing you can imagine”. The things you hear when announcers don’t realize that they have a hot mic on could make for some interesting commentary this season.
The first thing I notice today is that Breyvic Valera is out of the lineup, and Donovan Solano gets the start; three errors in five games will do that to you. That change didn’t seem to help the team and they lost all three games in Las Vegas.
Tonight, would turn out to be Shaun Anderson’s shortest outing since 2017, and the Aviators had four, yes FOUR triples in an inning. I hear it almost tied a PCL record, but I can’t find anything on it. The last time this was done in the Majors was by the 1901 White Sox. The only highlight of the night is that Mike Gerber has a five-game hitting streak, and Zach Green hit his third home run of the season, which was the first home run in the new Las Vegas Ballpark.
On a side note, Sacramento’s Mark Belhorn once had three triples in a game on June 20, 2000, against New Orleans which ties the PCL record for a game. The feat was also accomplished by former River Cat Peter Bourjos while he played for Salt Lake in 2010. The feat has not been accomplished since.
April 12, 2019
The Cats finally got it right. After dropping three in a row to Las Vegas, they pull out a win their first night in Salt Lake. Ty Blach had a great start striking out six in five innings, and Sam Coonrod got his first career save in six professional seasons. It was Mike Yastrzemski’s bat that put the River Cats in the lead when he hit his first home run of the season in the seventh. I was a little disappointed that the Giants had gave up pitcher Tyler Herb to the Orioles for Yastrzemski this off season, but this guy might be worth keeping an on.
April 13, 2019
Tonight’s starting pitchers are Alex Klonowski for Salt Lake, and the River Cats are going with Enderson Franco. Franco didn’t have a good outing in his first appearance last Monday giving up four runs but didn’t figure in the decision as the River Cats were able to come back for the win.
Franco gives up a home run to Jared Walsh in the bottom of the first and I have a feeling that its going to be a long night. I’ll spare you the details and let you know that Franco is pulled after 3.2 innings. Carlos Navas comes in and inherits the bases loaded with the top of the lineup coming up; and strikes out Briceno to end the inning with no damage done!
Briceno wins round 2 of this matchup as he just hit a two run bomb off Navas to put the Bees up 4-3. That’s all that the Bees needed to pull this one out. On a positive note, Mike Gerber has a seven game hitting streak going and Sam Coonrod picks up his first Save.
Franco didn’t seem to care for what I had to say about him on Twitter tonight but when the team’s starting pitchers have not gone more than 3.2 innings in six of the last seven games, that sounds like a problem.
April 14, 2019
These black jerseys the River Cats are wearing tonight are awesome! I didn’t think too much about them when they were first shown online but seeing them on the players they look great!
It was a pitchers duel in Salt Lake, and Andrew Suarez had a great start today, going 6.1, and not allowing a run while striking out 3 to earn his first win of the season. He did run into a little trouble there in the seventh but Ray Black, and Sam Coonrod followed to close out the game. The 6.1 innings marks the best outing by a River Cats pitcher this season.
April 15, 2019
No game today due to the weather in Salt Lake.
April 16, 2019
The boys are back in town! After a weeklong road trip, the River Cats are back at Raley Field to face Las Vegas and then Salt Lake. This is basically their road trip at home. This Las Vegas team is off to a hot start at 10-2, and how could they not? They are stacked with great players! As of today, Las Vegas has Top 3 PCL leaders in Runs, Hits, Home Runs, RBI, Stolen Bases, Slugging Percentage, Batting Average, and On Base plus Slugging. There are a lot of A’s/Aviators fans out here tonight as one might expect considering Oakland’s history with Sacramento. It’s also been eleven years since the River Cats last won a PCL title, and that was while they were still affiliated with the A’s.
Vegas scores early as Tyler Beede gives up a three-run home run off the bat of Tyler Ramirez. The Cats struck back in the bottom of the second with a double by Vogt, who was knocked in by Williamson; as the throw came home, Williamson took the chance to take second forcing a quick throw from Sean Murphy who overthrew into the outfield allowing Williamson to come in and score.
Beede is looked good tonight and was hitting 95mph consistently. He gets a season high nine strikeouts in five innings and has 22 in 12.2 innings through his first three starts now; overall he has struck out 41.5% of the batters he has faced. This is not the Tyler Beede we saw last year. His ERA sits at 2.84, and his WHIP is 1.18. Those numbers include two starts against Las Vegas.
The bottom of the fifth just ended, and I’m not sure exactly what happened. Yaz was on third, and Valera is a runner on first. Mike Gerber goes the opposite way, and the ball is dying fast. As I watched the play it looked like the leftfielder Mark Payton made an amazing diving catch, but it’s ruled a trap, which allows Yaz to score. Valera returns to first because he thought the ball was caught. Gerber touches first, and then walks off. Payton throws to second for the force out, who then throws to Eric Campbell at first who tags Gerber who walked off of the base, double play, inning over. Did I lose you? Well, just know that after a long discussion with the umpires, Manager Dave Brundage, and coach Jolbert Cabrera, figure it out. Gerber gets an RBI to tie up the game and Yaz scores, but the Aviators still turn a double play to end the inning, and for those keeping track at home you can score that 7-4-3.
Beede did his job through five, the bullpen did their job through the eighth and then the wheels fell off. The Aviators would go on to score five in the ninth inning to seal the fate of the River Cats. Gerber also saw his seven-game hitting streak end, robbed really, after that fifth inning fiasco.
April 17, 2019
So last night we had prom-posal, and tonight there a real marriage proposal. She said yes in case you were wondering, they both did. Makes you wonder if there are arguments after the game when these couples are out of the public eye; I’d hate to have the kind of pressure to accept.
Shaun Anderson gets the start tonight. He only lasted three innings in his last outing and gave up four runs to Las Vegas. Overall, Anderson’s appearance tonight was far better than before. He went five innings and gave up two runs and had a lead when he left the game, which I’ll be doing shortly as well.
All the good things happen on the night I must leave early. This game has been back and forth. Gerber started a new streak with a home run. Ramos hits his first home run, and the River Cats social media coordinator just asked me to throw her out the window if she attempts to get more pasta after her next serving.
I took off in the sixth inning to go to an engagement for work. Chase Johnson was sent to San Jose to make room for Fernando Abad who had an excellent outing in his first appearance for the River Cats, going 1.1 innings with three strikeouts. Outside of that, it pretty much went downhill from there. Shortly after arriving to the restaurant, I turn on my Game Day app to see Seth Brown hit his second homer of the night to tie the game in the top of the ninth off Pat Venditte. Cats end up losing 5-4. This Las Vegas team is incredible, and our bullpen woes continue with its second blown save in a row. Side note, there may be video out there of me singing Dwight Yoakum songs at karaoke.
April 18, 2019
Its busy and loud in the press room tonight, and while sitting in there before the game, I learned a new game, WikiRace. The basic idea of the game is that the contestants get two random words, and only using the links in Wikipedia, they have to get to the second word. Today’s words were lima beans and flying fish.
“The Preacher” Ty Blach is on the mound tonight for the River Cats.
Today has been a game of great plays. In the first Michael Reed makes a diving snow cone catch. That is followed up by a screamer snared by Zach Green at third to end the second, and finally in the third inning, Ty Blach boots a dribbler that was hit back to him, only to recover and make the tag as he goes down.
Off in the distance I can hear a guy riding the first base ump today about what he thought was a bad call. It was close, but I don’t know if it was bad. Right or wrong it was bang, bang. Hecklers are a part of the atmosphere, but man this guy seems to be annoying everyone. Occasionally you’ll have someone original and funny but for the most part it’s the same tired stuff. I should probably point out that I was able to see the replay and the runner was out.
2-3-2-5 pickle with the bases loaded to end the top of the fourth between home and third.
Ty Blach didn’t have his best stuff today as he struggled through 3.2 and giving up 4 runs.
Tyler Rogers after relieving Blach is not having his best game tonight either. He’s walked the bases loaded here in the fifth, and allowed a run, but he does have two outs. Luckily Eric Campbell grounds out to shortstop to end the inning.
The River Cats are down 5-0 going into the bottom half of the fifth, but Michael Reed starts the rally in the bottom of the inning as Jorge Mateo throws the ball away at first. Henry Ramos follows with a two-run bomb to left, and on the very next pitch Avelino does the same! This is the second time this season the River Cats have gone back-to-back, and both times Avelino has been the second home run. The score is now 5-3.
In the bottom of the sixth Aramis Garcia with his second home run of the season ties the game up at 5!
The Cats finally take a lead in the bottom of the seventh as Slater knocks in Solano. The question now is what will the bullpen do? Williams Jerez is in now to start the eighth. And after three consecutive errors and getting the bases loaded Sheldon Neuse knocks in two runs. Las Vegas takes the lead.
No clue what just happened but pitcher Brian Schlitter, who is in the dugout, was just ejected by the home plate umpire. As he hit the grass, he just slowed down, I love the pettiness. lol
After only nine pitches, Ray Black comes out of the game. He’s one of the highlights of the bullpen and hopefully its nothing serious. Coonrod in to replace him.
Cats fall 9-6 on what had to be the coldest night of the season so far. I just learned that they now lead the PCL with 20 errors, and as much I love Breyvic Valera, he leads the team with seven.
April 19, 2019
I didn’t really sleep much last night because I was thinking about this book. I like what I’m doing, but something is missing in how I approach it, and I’m not getting the flow that I was hoping for.
Enderson Franco gets the start tonight for the River Cats. He is not my favorite pitcher to watch this season, it’s quite painful. I think his longest outing to date was 3.2 innings. As much as I bang my head whenever he pitches, I must admit that he does seem to start off strong, but then once through the lineup, it all falls off the rails. The Bees don’t have a much better option as Alex Klonowski takes the mound for them. I had never heard of Klonowski until he pitched against the River Cats during the series in Salt Lake but before today’s game while sitting in the press box, Salt Lake’s play by play announcer said this about Klonowski. “He’s got four pitches: single, double, triple, home run”. That pretty much sums it up as he comes in with an ERA of 7.88. My guess is that with these two pitchers, all the runs will come by way of the long ball.
Today was another day with a room full of scouts, and one of my favorite parts of being around the press box are the stories that I get to hear. Tim Fortugno, a scout for the Mets who is best known for giving up George Brett’s 3,000th hit, and then straight away picking him off related some stories too us about players he scouted. He said that his big miss was Giancarlo Stanton. He tells the story about showing up to one of his games and watching him strike out four times. Stanton was later brought out to a workout where he was hitting balls the way we all know now that Stanton can hit them. Tim says that his boss was livid about not being in on Stanton. Some of the other things discussed around the table that day were how teams pick their players to draft now. Apparently with all these stats that everyone is collecting, teams have an algorithm that they use, and based on availably when it’s their turn to draft, it will kick out a name of who their next pick is. Makes you wonder why we need those five minutes between each pick now.
Before the game I followed up with Brundage to ask on how Ray Black was doing. He said that he is not 100% and felt some pain in his arm, but he thinks he just needs some rest, and they are going to be cautious with him for now.
Enderson Franco, did well for Enderson Franco. He got into the fifth, pitching 4.1 innings, and he allowed 3 runs, only one being earned off the bat of Jose Rojas. Once again this was a showing of how Franco is good until he isn’t, as the two unearned runs came in the fifthand it did bring his ERA down to 6.55 after coming in at over 9.00. Maybe the Giants should convert him to a reliever as its this team’s weakest position.
While I watched the whole game, I didn’t take a lot of it in tonight. It was a blow out of sorts as the Cats beat the Bees by a score of 11-5. I spent most of the night catching up with former collaborator Bridget Mulcahey who has her own baseball blog called Cheap Little Swing and is also now writing for China Basin Chatter.
River Cats win!! As I was watching the last couple of innings unfold, and Salt Lake started to chip away at the lead, I could feel my stress level rising as I wondered if they would blow this? Luckily the team did not. The bats came alive highlighted with Mac Williamson’s first home run of the season, a three-run blast! This ended his 80-plate appearance streak without a home run dating back to July 26th of 2018.
April 20, 2019
Today’s going to be a big day at Raley Field. The River Cats will be officially celebrating their twentieth anniversary with throwback jerseys and fireworks, and memories throughout the night. Looking forward to seeing how it all goes.
One of the opening pitches tonight was thrown by Lyndsey Klein who spent time with the U.S. Women’s Softball team but just missed making the 2004 Olympic team. That same year she was drafted to play in the NPF (National Pro Fastpich) and became an All Star.
Tonight’s game is also being broadcast on local television, and the person who signals to the umpire when they are in commercial break is called a “Red Hat”. Today was kind of an embarrassment for the station and the Red Hat. I need to go back and watch this game to see what this looked like on TV. Anyway, before the game started this guy tells me that he is the worst person to have do this because he doesn’t know a thing about baseball. I think to myself that it shouldn’t be a big deal because it’s not a difficult job from what I’ve seen. So, bottom of the first comes around and I’m minding my own business. Mike Yastrzemski comes to the plate, and I notice the Red Hat starting to yell at the umpire, “Stop! Stop! Wait! Stop!”. The first pitch goes by, ball 1. The Red Hat finally gets the umpire’s attention to stop the game. Yaz looks at the umpire to see what’s going on who tells him the situation, and he shakes his head. It was a good thirty seconds before the Red Hat gave all clear to continue the game. What an embarrassing moment it must have been as he was holding up the game, just standing there waiting. On TV all you see is Mike Yastrzemski standing there staring at the Red Hat, waiting, but those watching from home had no clue what was going on.
Balls are flying off the bat early today. Matt Thaiss takes Andrew Suarez deep in the first and there have been five home runs through the first three innings, highlighted by Zach Green’s two run bomb to tie the game. What’s so great about this is that Zach is a Sacramento native, playing for the River Cats, has a bunch of family and friends here tonight, and its being broadcast on local television as well.
Joining in on the fun has been Mike Gerber, Henry Ramos, and Jared Walsh for the Bees. Williamson ran around the bases, but the play turned into a ground rule double that scored Gerber. Long time River Cats and Giants favorite Jarrett Parker also hit a triple in his first at bat for the Bees tonight.
Mike Yastrzemski makes an amazing catch with his body about halfway over the outfield fence to Rob Thaiss of his second home run of the night!! That play should be on Sports Center!! Probably one of the best catches I’ve ever seen here at Raley Field, and that includes the one I made for the fly ball challenge years ago.
Aramis Garcia with his third home run of the season and the Cats are now leading 6-4.
Sam Selman makes his River Cats debut tonight after being called up from Richmond. He looks pretty good. He has struck out four in two innings after replacing Suarez who went five and gave up four runs, including two home runs, but seeing rumblings on Twitter that he may be injured? Not sure what they saw or heard.
Williams Jerez comes in to close out the game with the Cats up 9-6. Cats win, and Jerez picks up his first save; I really like Jerez.
It was a crazy night with eight home runs hit between both teams, six of those belonging to the River Cats. The six home runs were not a single game record for the River Cats, because on June 17, 2009 the team hit eight home runs in a game against the Fresno Grizzlies. Today’s game had the most attendance of the season so far at 9,333; and it sure is a far cry to when they were selling out just about every game with 14,000+.
Here’s a little tidbit I learned tonight. Jose Ortiz had 32 errors in the 2000 season in which he was also named the League’s MVP, and Daric Barton had 51 in his River Cats career. Valera committed his eighth of the season tonight in game number 16.
April 21, 2019
Its Easter today, or Zombie Jesus Day so that I’m being inclusive, and the River Cats held an Easter egg hunt before the game in the outfield which brought a lot of kids out today. Oak Park Little League had a team who went out on the field with the River Cats today, and Anthony Garcia spent a few minutes before the game signing for each of them. Damon Minor was joking with them and telling them that they should run out on to the field because there were Easter eggs hidden under the second base bag and take it out of the ground. The kids got excited, but the young lady who was looking after them did a great job to keep them corralled while she gave Damon a shake of the head.
Something I noticed though was the awe in these kids’ eyes. I see a lot of little league teams come through here, including my own years ago, and get to run on to the field with the team for the National Anthem. They are all excited and nervous, but today was the first time I noticed awe instead of entitlement. I don’t know anything about these kids or their families, but Oak Park doesn’t have a reputation of being the most affluent neighborhood in the greater Sacramento area. It got me thinking about socioeconomic status and how that might affect the experience that these kids were having, but that’s for a different book all together.
Tyler Beede is getting the start for the Cats today and had an excellent outing in his last game. Let’s see if that will carry over today. Nice strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play to end the top of the first for the Cats as Aramis Garcia guns down the runner at second.
We’ve had a pitchers dual today between Beede and Max Hermann for the Bees. After five innings of play the Cats are up 1-0 going back to the bottom of the first when Reed knocked in Yaz.
Venditte comes in to replace Beede in the sixth. I’m still fascinated with watching Pat switch from hand to hand as he throws. He isn’t the first player who threw with both arms in the majors. Greg Harris first did it in a game in 1995 when he faced two batters as a switch pitcher.
Coonrod comes in to start the seventh, and it’s his first outing since blowing the save the other night. Did he lose his closer spot to Jerez who picked up his first save last night? Ground ball to Slater gets bobbled and they just miss getting the out at first, run scores, game tied. Another wasted great start by Beede.
Luis Rengifo sends one to center, Yaz dives….and misses! The ball rolls to the track, Rengifo gets a triple and score Rojas to take the lead. Cats are currently down 2-1.
Okert comes in for the eighth. Cardi B is popular right now and her thing is “Okurrr” so I’m trying to make it a thing to tweet that whenever Okert comes in. I don’t think it’s catching on. Okert has gotten himself into a bases loaded jam now with one of Salt Lake’s big bats Jose Briceno up to bat, and after going 3-0 on Briceno, he strikes him out on three more pitches. Wow.
Slater reaches first in the bottom of the eighth because the first baseman pulled his foot off the bag because of the throw. Do we have something going?
Aramis Garcia up to bat. Bees’ pitcher Ramsey throws to first to try to get Slater. I thought he had him, but a balk is called and Slater to second. Everyone here in the press box agrees that Slater was picked off. Garcia walks.
Donovan Solano strikes out on a pitch that looked outside. I’m blaming River Cats radio announcer Johnny Doskow because he had just mentioned that Solano had only struck out five times this year in 46 at bats. Green with a screamer to third, and Thaiss boots it. Bases loaded for Avelino who singles in two runs off the glove of shortstop Wilfredo Tovar! Cats retake the lead 3-2.
Looks like Brundy is going to Fernando Abad to close this one out. As much as I like Jerez, I forgot that Abad is now here and has been lights out in both appearances he has made.
Wow, what a play by Avelino! With a runner on first, an attempted bunt goes back to Abad and he turns and bounces it to Avelino at second who digs it up for the out! Cats win their third straight and are now 9-8 on the season.
April 22, 2019
Left my laptop at home today, but luckily there wasn’t a whole lot to say about the game except that the bullpen ruined another quality start. Shaun Anderson went 5.1 innings and Williams Jerez gives up a grand slam to Jose Rojas, and that was the first at Raley Field since Fresno’s Kyle Tucker hit one last year. There was a little dust up today as Cesar Puellar and Stephen Vogt had words, and the dugouts started to clear but nothing came of it.
To follow up on Suarez, he has been put on the Injured List as of April 21. He would have been scheduled to start on Wednesday but with the off day tomorrow then Beede can be slipped into his spot, so we will what happens when his turn comes up again. It looks like he should only miss the one start
April 23, 2019
No game today for the River Cats as they head to Tacoma and then to El Paso on this road trip. I watched part of the Giants/Blue Jays game, and it was Kevin Pillar’s return to Toronto for the first time since the trade. The crowd gave him a big ovation when he came to bat, and even when he knocked in a run for the Giants. Those Canadians are nice fellas. I know that fans build stronger ties to Major League players, but it doesn’t seem like people care as much when former River Cats come in to town playing for the visiting team. I’ve always gotten excited to see some old faces on the other teams and see how they’re doing. I clearly remember it used to feel that way too here in Sacramento. Players would come in and get an ovation as though they still played for the River Cats. The past two seasons, I haven’t seen that happen. I don’t know if its because the people who come to games now, are doing it for the social aspect of coming to a game, and don’t know the players or what the case may be.
April 24, 2019
Christian Bergman vs Ty Blach today up in Tacoma at Cheney Stadium which apparently is celebrating 60 years, and it looks like it. I wasn’t sure if I was going to head up to Tacoma this year, but I may have to look into it now.
The game starts with River Cats alum Orlando Calixte getting the first out off of the bat of Mike Yastrzemski. Hello there Orlando, nice to see you too.
The River Cats get on the board first here as Mac Williamson and Austin Slater both go yard. That’s Williamson’s third home run of the season, and the first for Slater. Slater has now reached base in 15 of his last 28 plate appearances.
And there goes the no hitter in the fifth, as Tacoma’s Shed Long rakes a double into left field. Blach would go six and only allow four batters to reach base tonight; great outing for the Preacher and the River Cats take this one 4-1.
April 25, 2019
The answer to what the team will do when it comes to Andrew Suarez’s schedule start has been answered, and I was totally wrong. Yoanys Quiala from Richmond for the start; his numbers look good, so bring on the Rainiers. Quilala has a career WHIP of 1.28, and he isn’t a strike out pitcher averaging less than one per inning. I just ran across an article that states that he was suspended 80 games for PEDs in 2018, then released after that and signed with the Giants in February of this year.
Tommy Milone gets the start for Tacoma today, and he’ll be facing Enderson Franco. Milone gets his gloved looked at before the game by all the umpires, but they determined whatever it was shouldn’t be a concern.
Mac Williamson with a single in his first at bat extends his hitting streak to nine games. I honestly hadn’t even noticed. Here is a first for me, Tommy Milone just got a pitch clock violation which adds a ball to the count for Michael Reed making it 3-2. I’ve never seen that go down. Milone looked a little annoyed, but the game carries on and Reed is walked.
Aramis Garcia with a three-run shot here in the first. The Tacoma TV broadcaster had just said that three of Garcia’s nine hits have gone for home runs; I guess make that four of his ten.
Top of the sixth now, and heads up running by Ramos on an infield single by Williamson, as he flies to third on a bobbled ball by Tim Lopes. Ramos scores on a sac fly by Anthony Garcia. This was a lucky run for the River Cats. Lopes should have made the play on Williamson, and Ramos would have probably been out if the throw from Ian Miller wasn’t cut off. After Reed pokes his way on to first Williamson heads to third. Reed steals second and throw from Lobaton goes off into centerfield allowing Williamson to score. Things are looking pretty good for the Cats as its 5-0, and Enderson Franco is doing a great job today on the mound. Solano with his first home run of the season, and the score is now 6-0 Sacramento.
Franco walks his first batter tonight to start the sixth. This is his best outing of the season and hoping this isn’t the beginning of the end for this game, are six runs enough? Franco strikes out the next batter, and that is all for him. Nice outing for him today, and glad that Brundage decided to pull him before things get worse. This could make Franco a good option going forward. Venditte comes into replace him, and Lobaton with a two-run jack off of Venditte puts the Rainiers on the board.
Williamson with his fourth hit of the game and he is hot. He is 17 for 37 during this hitting streak. The River Cats get a couple of more runs and that’s the ballgame! River Cats win by a score of 8-2. Aside from losing six times to the Las Vegas Aviator this season, the River Cats are 11-3 against all other teams they’ve played, and that puts them in a tie for first with the Fresno Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies will be in Sacramento during the next homestand, but Carter Kieboom will probably not be on the team, as he was just called up to make his Major League debut tomorrow with the Nationals.
April 26, 2019
Today is an exciting day in baseball. Major League Baseball’s #1 Prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr is making his debut against the Oakland A’s tonight. In his first at bat, he grounded out to Kendrys Morales, but in his second at bat, on a 3-1 pitch, he almost went out of the park, luckily Chad Pinder was able to get his glove on it. It gave me chills.
Vladdy gets a key double to start the bottom of the ninth to help the Blue Jays come from behind with a victory over the A’s, and wouldn’t you know it, he is replaced by former River Cat Alen Hansen to pinch run and is knocked in on the walk off home run by Brandon Drury. Hansen wasn’t the only former River Cat to make an impression on this memorable day. Eric Sogard led the game off with his first ever leadoff home run. I really enjoy how many former River Cats have been a part of some memorable Major League moments, and we are fortunate to have had such successful teams, and great players play here over the years.
I didn’t actually get around to watching the River Cats game tonight. They lost 5-0 to Tacoma who hit three home runs which accounted for all the runs scored in the game. Yoanys Quiala made his River Cats debut and pitched well except for two solo home runs. Williams Jerez came in to relieve him and gave up a three-run bomb to Kristopher Negron who seems to be thriving on River Cats pitching this year, and that was pretty much the game.
In other PCL news, the Mariners have called up Justus Sheffield tonight from Tacoma. He didn’t have a very good outing in Seattle and was sent right back down after the game.
April 27, 2019
Tyler Beede will be on the mound tonight facing off against Reggie McClain who was brought up from Modesto last night for this game.
After a 14 min rain delay, Tacoma is playing as the Cheney Studs tonight, a throwback to one of their former names, and tomorrow they will be playing as the Tacoma Giants which was the team’s original name.
Looks like a pretty chili night in Tacoma, as most of the players are wearing face masks. Yaz with the two-run homer here in the third, puts the Cats up 3-1.
Wow, Both Valera, and Yastrzemski were thrown out at home in the top of the fifth for the first two outs of the game while trying to score from second.
Steven Okert takes over for Beede here in the bottom of the sixth and on his first pitch J.P. Crawford sends it to deep right for his second home run of the season. Fun fact, both of Crawford’s home runs this year have been off the River Cats. 3-2 is the score with Sacramento still on top.
It’s now the top of the ninth and Mac Williamson literally knocked one out of Cheney Field to extend the River Cats lead to 4-2. That’s Williamson’s fourth of the year and extends his hitting streak to ten games.
The game was ugly as Fernando Abad almost blew a two inning save but they pulled off the win by a score of 4-3. Tyler Beede was also finally able to pick up his second win of the season, on what really was his second worst appearance of the year. I make that comment not so much as an insult to Tyler, but to how well he is pitching this year. He’s really showing himself to be the Ace of the staff this season. He now has an ERA of 1.99, and leads the Pacific Coast League with 34 strikeouts.
April 28, 2019
The Rainiers are throwing it back again to the 60s as they take the field as the Tacoma Giants. It’s weird to watch them play in these uniforms as they have the same recognizable font and colors with “Giants” emblazoned across their chests like the Major League team does.
After being out of baseball since 2016, Jon Niese makes his first start with Tacoma. Jon was drafted in the Atlantic League, which is the most advanced Independent League, by the Long Islands Ducks on April 1, 2019, and the Mariners bought his contract on the 24th. This is his first game with a Major League affiliated team and pitching in three years, although he was in Spring Training with the Rangers in 2018.
Shaun Anderson is getting the start for the River Cats.
There goes the no-hitter, and in dramatic fashion. Zach Green with his fifth homer of the season to lead off the top of third. The shot just cleared the fence in left center field, and it was the first hit of the game for either team. Niese has followed the home run with walking the next three batters. Luckily for him that Breyvic Valera had already been thrown out at third while trying to advance on a passed ball. Henry Ramos grounds into a double play to end the inning on the next pitch.
Tacoma takes a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third, with a three-run bomb off the bat of Braden Bishop. It’s his third of the season. That’s all for Anderson. Six innings, and he strikes out a career high nine today.
Going into the ninth with the Cats down 3-2. Stephen Vogt ties it up to lead off the ninth with his third home run of the season.
Well, there is another blown save and more bullpen woes. After loading the bases here in the bottom of the ninth, Sam Coonrod gives up the winning run on a short fly ball to center that allows Eric Young Jr to score the game winning run. Mac Williamson’s hitting streak has also come to an end as the River Cats lose 4-3. The team is now off to Albuquerque.
Fun fact of the night, former River Cats, and current Oakland A’s pitcher Brett Anderson became the first pitcher to have faced both Vladimir Guerrero, AND Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
April 29, 2019
The River Cats were unable to get a late flight out of Sea/Tac, so they had an early flight, and had to be up and going at 3am. They didn’t even get to Albuquerque until this afternoon. This is the kind of wear and tear that people don’t think about when talking about professional athletes. Here’s to hoping the team was able to get enough rest before game time today.
Ty Blach, who was scheduled to make tonight’s start against Albuquerque has been called up to take the roster spot of Derek Holland who has been put on the Injured List (IL). Speculation by Alex Pavlovic on Twitter is that Tyler Beede may be going up to take Holland’s place in the rotation for the long run. As for tonight, the River Cats are going with Steven Okert, who has had a rough start to the season out of the bullpen, and this will be his first professional start.
Isotopes Park looks nice. It isn’t on my list of ballparks to visit this summer, but I kind of wish it was.
Jeff Hoffman will take the mound for Albuquerque and his last start was a spot start for the Rockies.
On the first pitch of the game Gerber goes yard! So much for being tired from the early flight from Tacoma.
Maybe I spoke too soon, as the River Cats were tossing the ball around the infield it ended up in the outfield. Valera is playing second today, so what’s the over/under on how many errors we’ll have?
Okert ends the inning with a 1-3-4 pickoff.
“Brenden Rogers needs to hack off that mullet. #SorryNotSorry”. I just posted that to Twitter as Brenden Rogers came to bat. He just unloaded a home run to make this a 1-1 ball game. Sorry about that River Cats, I take full responsibility for that run.
It’s going to be a complete game by committee tonight. Okert puts in his two innings, and in comes Navas. Pat Valaika welcomes with a two-run moon shot off of a hanging slider from Navas that hits the top of the scoreboard and bounced back into the playing field.
Hoffman just dominated the Cats. He went seven complete innings, giving up three hits, a walk, and seven strike outs. The only run was Gerber’s home run on the first pitch of the game.
Isotopes play by play announcer Josh Sachon tells a story about Mac Williamson as he comes in to pinch hit. The story told is that back in 2017 Williamson hit the furthest home run that he can remember, straight over the scoreboard in centerfield. Josh said that he may have used the work “very” three times in describing how far it went. That’s about as good as we are going to get tonight as Williamson goes down looking.
Bases loaded now for Henry Ramos here in the eight, and the River Cats are starting to put some pressure on the ‘Topes. He gets a single to left, and Drew Weeks throws out Valera as he tried to score from second to tie up the game. The hit did score Avelino and its now 3-2.
The game ended on a controversial catch by centerfielder Yonathan Daza. With runners on second and third, Donovan Solano hits a ball to center which would have scored at least one to tie, and possibly the go ahead as well. Daza dove headfirst to barely make the catch, but it the replays show that it may have been trapped. Game over.
April 30, 2019
There has been internet chatter about what the San Francisco Giants should do with Mac Williamson, and how he isn’t on the 40-man roster after being Designated for Assignment (DFA’d) at the start of the season but doing so well in Triple-A this season. Mac continues his hot start and gives them more to talk about as he hits a two-run shot in the top of the first to give the River Cats the early lead here in Albuquerque.
Abiatal Avelino comes into the game only batting .224 coming into this game, but if he could figure out how to hit that ball another 15-20 feet, he’d be a monster. So many drives that just fall short for an out. I think he would be perfect for the Red Sox and that short right field fence in Fenway Park
I love the term “Pitchers Who Rake” unless they happen to be playing against the River Cats. TOPES pitcher Ryan Castellani with the two-run home run off Franco. Franco gave up three hits in the second inning that allowed the Isotopes to score four runs.
Back-to-back jacks by Williamson and Vogt tie the game here in the fourth!
Pat Valaika, for the second straight night with the long ball, puts the Isotopes right back on top. They now have 50 home runs in the month of April. The team’s home run record in any month is 51.
What a crazy night. They let Franco hit, and he reaches on an error by Brendan Rodgers, and that drives in Valera. Right after that Mike Gerber hits the River Cats fourth home run of the night to take the lead 7-5.
Nine run fifth inning for the River Cats! Mike Gerber knocked in four of those runs including a two run home run, and a single that knocked in two more.
I’m having issues with my MiLB.TV account so I’m not able to watch this game. The final score was 17-7, and it was the most run the River Cats have scored in game since April of 2018, when they scored 18 in Reno.
Quick update, Blach’s performance for the Giants tonight didn’t go well at all.