An early look at which River Cats could make a big league contribution in 2017
With the close of the River Cats 2016 season, many turned their eyes to the Postseason progress of the team’s Major League affiliate, the San Francisco Giants.
When the Giants fell in four games to the Chicago Cubs, ending their incredible even-year streak, those eyes then turned toward the 2017 baseball season and what kind of changes might be coming between now and Sacramento’s home opener on April 6.
“We head into the off season in a much stronger position than we were at this time last year. Our needs are clear…but our strengths are also clear,” Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said in an end of season letter to the fans.
In a stronger position, but not a perfect one.
News had come out earlier during the team’s end of season post conference that the Giants were relieving their base coaches, both first base coach Bill Hayes and third base coach Roberto Kelly, of their duties.
“We feel like we need to grow our leadership on the field in terms of how we approach our baserunning and overall efforts,” Evans told reporters at the conference, “We want to look at some different leadership there and feel like we can get stronger.”
It was news that didn’t necessarily surprise anyone – there had been talk of this happening for some months.
What was more interesting to River Cats fans though, were the names being mentioned as a possible replacement. One name, specifically: Jose Alguacil.
Jose “Augi” Alguacil served as the River Cats’ manager for the 2016 season after making his managerial debut in 2015 with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels. After Sacramento’s season wrapped up, Augi joined the Giants coaching staff for the remainder of September and the Postseason.
Following the announcement of Kelly and Hayes, the San Jose Mercury’s Andrew Baggarly pointed to Augi, saying that the Triple-A manager had “earned rave reviews” from the Giants for his “upbeat attitude and baseball acumen.” Augi, according to Baggarly, is “a strong candidate to join the Major League staff.” He also pointed out that without Kelly, the Giants coaching staff is without a fluent Spanish speaker. Augi, born in Venezuela, speaks Spanish fluently.
But Augi isn’t the only one looking at a possible Major League role. It’s been widely reported that Ty Blach, who dazzled in his final start of the season for the Giants, is a favorite for the fifth spot in San Francisco’s 2017 rotation.
In two seasons (2015-16) with the River Cats, Blach racked up 25 wins and posted a 4.30 ERA. In the second half of 2016, the 26-year-old left-hander was 5-2 with a 2.42 ERA and sub-1.00 whip. In his final start for the Giants, Blach threw eight shutout innings at home, beating Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers in a must-win game for San Francisco. He then added two scoreless innings in the team’s extra-inning win over the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Division series.
In total, Blach was 1-0 with a 0.88 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP in four games for the Giants.
CSN Bay Area’s Giants Insider Alex Pavlovic called Blach the favorite for the fifth spot as the team enters the offseason, but he’ll be competing with veteran Matt Cain, who Giants General Manager Bobby Evans said has earned the right to compete.
“Matt wants to be a starting pitcher,” Evans said at the conference. “He’ll come into spring training expecting to start and he’ll be given every opportunity, and he deserves that.”
In addition to Blach, two other River Cats players – Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker – figure to factor heavily into San Francisco’s 2017 plans. With Angel Pagan headed toward Free Agency, Baer said in the press conference that Pagan’s replacement in left field could likely come from within the organization.
Both Parker and Williamson logged more big league innings in 2016 than they ever had before, with Parker, a left-handed hitter, playing 257 innings (63 games) and Williamson, a right-handed hitter, playing 241 (54 games).
“Parker and Williamson made a great impression and when you talk about power potential, those guys exude power potential,” Evans said.
He went on to reference another former River Cats slugger, Adam Duvall, who this past season enjoyed a breakout year with the Cincinnati Reds: “You look at the success that Adam Duvall has had in Cincinnati and we project both Parker and Williamson to have more power.”
Duvall hit 33 home runs for Cincinnati in 2016, averaging one homer every 17 at bats. In 628 Triple-A at bats, Parker hit 39 home runs, or one every 16 at bats. Williamson, in 397 such at bats, had 19 homers, or one every 21. By comparison, Brandon Belt, who led the 2016 Giants with 17 big flys, hit just one home run for every 32 at bats.
They haven’t done it yet, Evans said in reference to Parker and Williamson, but added that they “feel like both [players] have good chances of helping us next year.”
While the outfield is one place in need of reinforcements, so too is the bullpen, especially with the impending Free Agency of Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, and Javier Lopez.
When asked if that bullpen, which committed a franchise-most 30 blown saves in the regular season, needed an overhaul, Evans was quick to say that “’overhaul’ is a tremendous overstatement.” That said, he addressed the need for a true closer and some consistency in the ‘pen.
That consistency could likely come from a number of former River Cats, including rookie standout Derek Law. Law, whose time with the River Cats was brief to start 2016, certainly seems a lock for the Giants 2017 bullpen after posting a 4-2 record and a 2.13 ERA in his rookie season. He threw 55 innings for San Francisco, his most since 2013 (66.1ip), while setting a career-mark with 61 games.
Joining Law as probables for the 2017 ‘pen are left-handed relievers Steven Okert and Josh Osich. After a dominant 2015 for the River Cats, Okert had an up-and-down 2016, but shined in September for San Francisco, posting a 1.13 ERA (8ip, 1er) over nine appearances. Osich made the jump to the Giants quickly in 2015 and was excellent, going 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA in 35 games. He struggled in 2016 to the tune of 1-3 with a 4.71 ERA in 59 games and was left off the postseason roster. He’ll look to bounce back and join Okert and Will Smith as the lefthanders in the ‘pen.
There are other Sacramento notables looking ahead to 2017, too.
Trevor Brown, who was a fan-favorite in Sacramento in 2015, was admirable in his first full season with the Giants. Serving as backup to Buster Posey, Brown hit .237 while logging 40 starts (75 games) behind the plate.
Kelby Tomlinson, who made his debut in Sacramento in 2015 and spent time with the River Cats again in 2016, has hit .299 in parts of two seasons with the Giants and seems entrenched as a utility infielder on the bench for San Francisco.
Conor Gillaspie’s time in Sacramento was brief – he hit .314 with four extra-base hits and four RBI in 12 games to start the 2016 campaign – but the Wild Card game hero could find himself back with the Giants, splitting time with Eduardo Nunez at third base.
While there are many pieces still to be set, there are just as many former River Cats who figure to play a prominent role in the Giants’ 2017 quest for October.
These are the players you’ll want to know before they arrive in Sacramento
In baseball, it can be hard to know which minor leaguers to keep an eye just because there are so many of them. It can be hard to keep track of players as they move around from league to league, level to level, and we’re here to help. We’ve picked three players who spent 2016 with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels that we think you should know before they take the field by the river in West Sacramento.
Christian Arroyo, INF – Richmond Flying Squirrels
Chances are you’re already familiar with Flying Squirrels infielder Christian Arroyo. But in case you aren’t, here’s the deal. He was drafted in the first round (25th overall) by the San Francisco Giants in the 2013 June Amateur Draft. In a move that many saw as too bold, the Giants took the 18-year-old Arroyo straight out of high school and two-to-three rounds ahead of where most teams projected him.
“With a high school kid, you’re never really sure what you’re getting,” said Shane Turner, Director of Player Development for the San Francisco Giants, of Arroyo. “But he has matured mentally and physically and I think he’s going to be even stronger than maybe we first thought.”
In his first three-plus years of professional baseball, Arroyo has done nothing but impress, hitting .300 across four different levels. He has been invited to the big league Spring Training camp twice, posting a .538 Spring average (14-for-26) with two home runs and seven RBI. In 2016, the versatile infielder started the shift to 3B while hitting .274 with 36 doubles. With the rate Arroyo has already risen through the system, it’s likely he’ll don a River Cats jersey before too long.
Tyler Beede, RHP – Richmond Flying Squirrels
If you don’t know Tyler Beede, here’s the skinny: First-round draft pick (twice!), College World Series champion, and number two overall prospect in the Giants system.
Beede was drafted by the Giants in the first round (14th overall) of the 2014 June Amateur Draft. Beede was drafted four years prior, also in the first round (as the 21st pick) by the Toronto Blue Jays, but passed up on the opportunity to attend Vanderbilt and play college baseball.
That decision led him to the 2014 College World Series, where the hard-throwing right-hander helped his team capture the 2014 title. His shining moment came in the Nashville Regional when he struck out a career-high 14 in eight innings against Xavier. Fun fact: current prospect Dansby Swanson, ranked sixth in baseball, was Beede’s teammate on that Championship club.
With just under two seasons of professional ball under his belt, Beede has already moved up to Double-A. He spent just half a season with San Jose (Class A Advanced), posting a 2.24 ERA in 52.1 innings of work. In his first full year at Double-A, Beede went 8-7 with a 2.81 ERA and a 2.55 K:BB ratio, including 3-1 with a 1.58 ERA in his final seven starts.
Ray Black, RHP – Richmond Flying Squirrels
Aroldis Chapman. Noah Syndergaard. Nathan Eovaldi. Kelvin Herrera. Ray Black?
You better believe it. Just like all the guys listed before him. Ray Black brings a serious heater to the backend of any bullpen. The right-handed hurler was clocked at 104 mph in an Arizona Fall League in 2015 and has touched 100 to 101 miles per hour consistently throughout his minor league career.
Black was drafted in 2011 by San Francisco as the 237 overall pick (7th round) despite posting mediocre numbers while at the University of Pittsburgh. Shortly after signing with the Giants, Black underwent labrum surgery and missed the next two seasons completely.
Just 25, Black hasn’t drawn notable attention because of that labrum surgery and a string of other notable injuries dating back to high school, including Tommy John surgery, a broken hand, and more. Because of that, his inning count is also still quite low at 78 through five seasons. If he can continue to stay healthy – he made 35 appearances for Richmond last season – it’s safe to say this fireball will find his way to West Sacramento sooner than later.
There you have it. Three names that you can almost certainly expect to see at Raley Field for the 2017 season. Now you can tell all your friends that you knew first as you drop knowledge about favorite soon-to-be River Cats.
Get ready to rock! We have your 2016 River Cats walk-up jams right here in one convenient playlist. Get pumped!
Gorkys Hernandez: “Lejos De Aqui” – Farruko
Kelby Tomlinson: “Soul on Fire” – Third Day, All Sons & Daughters
Travis Ishikawa: “Again” – Fetty Wap
Andrew Susac: “Feel Good Drag” – Amberlin
Ryan Lollis: “Tops Drop” – Fat Pat
Miguel Olivo: “One More Road to Cross” – DMX
Austin Slater: “Overload” – The Chainsmokers
Juan Ciriaco: “Creere” – Tercer Cielo
Austin Fleet: “Closer” – Kings of Leon
Ty Blach: “Your Grace is Enough” – Matt Maher
Chris Stratton: “Brother” – NEEDTOBREATHE
Jake Dunning: “Forgot About Dre” – Dr. Dre, Eminem
Matt Lujan: “Closer to the Sun” – Slightly Stoopid
Sergio Romo: “El Mechon” – Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizarrage
Clayton Blackburn: “Stockyards” – Casey Donahew Band
Hunter Pence: “My Boo” – Ghost Town DJs
Hunter Pence: “First Class” – Henry Jackman
Hunter Pence: “Is She With You?” – Hans Zimmer
Ramiro Pena: “El Aferrado” – Julion Alvarez
Mitch Delfino: “Amarillo Sky” – Jason Aldean
Jarrett Parker: “Jubel” – Klingande
Mac Williamson: “Who’s With Me” – Flo Rida
Bonus Track: “Nick Punto” – The Minnesota Sports Band
Who knew the author of a ballpark staple was such a hopeless romantic.
We don’t know about you, but one thing we love every night at Raley Field is the seventh inning stretch. Grab a soda, catch a giveaway, but most importantly of all, sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
The song is synonymous with the stretch. It’s at every ballgame in every stadium. And Raley Field is no exception.
Chances are though, you’ve never actually thought about where the song came from. And if you have, you probably figure “Hey, someone really liked baseball and wrote a song.”
What you probably didn’t know was that this famous song arose in 1908 from a girl-nearly-rejects-the-guy moment. Jack Norworth was simply riding the subway train when an ad that said “Baseball Today at the Polo Grounds” caught his eye.
Inspired, Norworth jotted down the infamous lyrics – which can be found at Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In the original lyrics, Katie’s beau rings her up to take her out on a date. He thought a good show might be nice. Katie however, said no.
In fact, she had a better idea. She would go with him on one condition – he had to take her out to a ball game.
And thus a classic was born. The words were set to music by Albert Von Tilzer and the first recording was sung by Edward Meeker.
Here are the lyrics from 1908:
Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad.
Just to root for the home town crew,
On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she’d like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said “No,
I’ll tell you what you can do:”
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.
Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names.
Told the umpire he was wrong,
Good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.
Katie Casey obviously had her priorities straight.
Two different eras, one common passion.
It’s understood in baseball – as in most sports – that you’ll be able to find a varied amount of both young talent and veteran experience. The Sacramento River Cats are no exception.
The oldest player on the River Cats roster is veteran catcher Miguel Olivo, born in 1978. Earlier this season, he was behind the plate, catching for one of the youngest members of the team, Giants #10 Propsect Clayton Blackburn, born in 1993.
That’s a 15-year gap. A lot sure has changed in those 15 years.
Olivo was born on July 15, 1978 in Villa Vasquez, Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic. He made his major league debut with the Chicago White Sox on September 15, 2002 at the age of 24 and in his first taste of the show, he went 1-for-2 with a home run )off Andy Pettitte!) and three RBI. Blackburn was just nine years old.
Blackburn was born on January 6, 1993 in Amarillo, Texas. He made his mark in the organization last season, earning the title of Pacific Coast League ERA champion with a 2.85 mark. The Giants No. 10 prospect was recalled by San Francisco on May 12, but did not make his debut. It’s possible that Blackburn could make his way back at some point this season.
That means Olivo was 14 years, 5 months, and 22 days old when Blackburn was born. And Blackburn was 9 years, 8 months, and 9 days old when Olivo made his major league debut.
That’s nearly a 15 year difference in age and if Blackburn makes his debut in 2016, a 14 year gap between debuts.
A lot changes in a decade and a half.
Take for example the price of gas. When Olivo was born in 1978, the average cost for a gallon of gas was $0.63 cents. When Blackburn was born, it was $1.16. When Olivo made his debut, it was $1.35. While Blackburn has yet to make his debut, if it happens in 2016, you can expect to find the average cost of gas at $2.27 (just not anywhere in California).
Or look into how politics have changed. In 1978, Jimmy Carter was president. In 1993, two weeks after Blackburn was born, Bill Clinton was inaugurated at president. And today? Well, we’ll leave today’s politics out of it.
Thankfully technology has undergone some major updates, as well. When Olivo was born, the Illinois Bell Company has recently introduced first ever Cellular Mobile Phone System. When Blackburn was born, the World Wide Web was created at CERN and the Pentium microprocessor was introduced by Intel. Most importantly, in 2002, Apple introduced the second generation iPod that held 4,000 songs and the “super innovative” iMac G4.
We may be biased, but the pop culture of 1978 is something to be missed. Popular movies included Grease and Saturday Night fever. People were listening to the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and the Bee Gees with hits like “Stayin Alive.”
The Nineties though, receive an applause for their movies. In 1993, Blackburn’s family was probably watching Jurassic Park or Schindler’s List. His mom might have been watching Sleepless in Seattle. And a baby Blackburn could have been watching Mrs. Doubtfire.
In Texas, the Blackburn family was likely listening to country star Garth Brooks. Or secretly belting out Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” in the shower.
The greatest transition though, would be the change from this in 1978:
To this in the 90s:
While neither style may suit either of them anymore, we can all agree that, despite the years between, them, both look real good in that Sactown jersey every Friday night.
Get an early look at our upcoming The Inside Pitch interview with All-Star Ty Blach
The Portugal and Wales game is just underway when we dial up Ty Blach. So first things first, of course.
Soccer fan, Ty?
“No, not really,” he answers casually. “It’s exciting to watch, but I’m not really invested either way.”
After a second, he adds “Plus, in Fresno, there’s not much else going on anyway.”
He’s watching the match from his hotel room in Fresno where the River Cats are a few hours away from starting the third game of their three-game set against their intrastate rivals.
Blach won’t pitch in the series, but that’s because he just wrapped up a dominating 10-strikeout performance at home against the Albuquerque Isotopes. His start before that? A nine-inning, complete-game shutout against the hot-hitting Las Vegas 51s in Las Vegas. Combined, the left-hander tossed 16 innings with a 1.13 ERA, 16 strikeouts, and not a single walk.
Those numbers were good enough to net Blach the Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of the Week award for June 27 – July 3. It’s his second time receiving the award with the River Cats, the last one coming for the week of August 17 – 23 of last season.
Blach tossed his first nine-inning complete-game shutout of Triple-A during that week. Sensing a theme?
“I guess so,” Blach says, laughing. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
Complete game shutouts aren’t necessarily new for Blach, who has four of them – one of which was a seven inning effort as a part of a double-header – in his four year career. Is there anything different about those games? Is there a point where, as a pitcher, you start thinking “I can go all the way in this one”?
See the rest of our interview with Ty Blach in our upcoming edition of The Inside Pitch, available at all River Cats games starting July 22!
You voted and asked for some old-time classics. We couldn’t be more proud.
We gave you four choices for opponents’ walk up music and you let us know which one you wanted. While the music of the 90’s, 80’s and 70’s all put up good showings, 35% of you voted for the Golden Oldies.
Just for you, here are all of the oldies used for the Isotopes hitters in tonight’s “We The Fans” game.
Rock on, old timers. Rock on.
New faces fill out the River Cats roster halfway through the season
The River Cast roster, like any Triple-A roster, experiences quite a few changes throughout the course of the season. A little over halfway through the season, Sacramento has already made 107 transactions. In the past 48 hours alone, there have been nine different moves, meaning there are more than a few new faces on the team. We thought we’d help break it down and introduce you to each.
INF Ricky Oropesa (#35) was transferred from Double-A Richmond and added to the River Cats’ 25-man roster today, Thursday, 6/30. In 68 games for the Flying Squirrels this season, Oropesa hit .219 (51-for-233) with eight doubles, nine home runs, and 31 RBI. He’s always possessed above average power, and hit a career-best 17 home runs in 2015 with the Double-A Richmond Squirrels. This is the first time that the left-handed slugger has appeared at the Triple-A level in his five seasons of professional ball. He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft, following first round pick Joe Panik and second rounder Andrew Susac. You may have heard of them.
Next up is INF Ali Castillo (#49), who like Oropesa, was transferred from Double-A Richmond and added to the River Cats 25-man roster. So far this season, Castillo hit .317 (63-for-220) with nine doubles, three triples, and six stolen bases in 66 games for the Flying Squirrels. He’s got nine Minor League seasons under his belt, but just 20 games played at the Triple-A level (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 2015). He joined the Giants organization after signing a minor league deal in December of 2015. Prior to that, the 26-year-old infielder had spent seven seasons in the New York Yankees organization. In 2013, Castillo was named the Eastern League Playoffs MVP after going 8-for-21 (.381) with two doubles, a triple, a home run, six RBI, and four runs scored.
Also coming from Richmond is RHP Tyler Rogers (#48), who was transferred from Double-A and added to the River Cats 25-man roster. The right-handed reliever has a very unique submarine delivery and had made 35 appearances for the Flying Squirrels, posting an ERA of 0.77, with 10 saves, 24 strikeouts, and 8 walks.Rogers was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 10th round of the 2013 First Year Player draft and will be making his Triple-A debut in what is his fourth season of professional baseball.
The last Richmond transplant (for now!) is INF/OF Myles Schroder (#19) was transferred from Double-A Richmond and added to the River Cats 25-man roster. Schroder was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 27th (824 overall) round of the 2007 Draft. He’s played at least 100 games in every season since 2014 and, even more impressive, has played at least 10 games at every position during his six-year Minor League career. Over the last two seasons, Schroder has hit .252 with seven home runs, 32 RBI, and 14 stolen bases in 109 games with Richmond.
Returning to Sacramento after a six-year journey through the Majors is OF Chris Denorfia (#55), who was reinstated from the Sacramento Disabled List and added to the active 25-man roster. The 35-year-old vet signed with the San Francisco Giants as a minor league free agent in June of this season, starting his year with the AZL Giants. In 2015, appeared in 103 games with the Chicago Cubs, hitting .269 (57-for-212) with 3 home runs and 18 RBI. Has spent parts of 10 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Reds, Athletics, Padres, Mariners, and Cubs. Denorfia played 152 games with the River Cats between the 2008 and 2009 seasons, hitting .280 with 31 doubles, 11 home runs, 69 RBI, and 20 stolen bases.
Sacramento looks to continue hot streak against slumping Albuquerque
The Sacramento River Cats (33-47) are looking to set off some fireworks this Independence Day Weekend as they face off against the Colorado Rockies Triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes (31-48), losers of 12-straight games.
Scouting the Teams
Albuquerque currently sits 15 games behind El Paso in the Pacific Southern Division and during their 12-game losing streak, have been outscored 51-25. During the month of June, Albuquerque has an 8-19 record while hitting .245 as a team with a 4.34 team ERA. Coming into Raley Field this weekend, the Isotopes are currently hitting a league-low .233 as a team on the road while they’re 3.96 team ERA on the road is third best in the league.
In Sacramento’s most recent win over the Las Vegas 51s, outfielder Ryan Lollis was the only starter from the opening day lineup. The River Cats pitching staff will be eager to leave the hitter-friendly ballpark in Las Vegas and get home to improve upon their a team ERA of 3.54, fifth-best in the league. At the dish, River Cats hitters haven’t found as much success, hitting .262 as a team, ninth in the league. Sacramento comes in with an 11-16 record so far this month and will be seeking their fourth home series win this weekend.
Players to Watch
The Sacramento offense starts from the top, literally, as leadoff man and centerfielder Gorkys Hernandez has been on a tear of late. The River Cats’ lone 2016 All-Star, Hernandez is hitting .469 (15-for-32) with nine runs and eight RBIs over his last 10 games. Sacramento shortstop Rando Moreno has impressed of late as well, hitting .333 (12-for-36) over his last 10 games while driving in three runs and scoring six. Left-hander Ty Blach is coming off a complete game shutout against the Las Vegas 51s and is 2-0 in his two starts with a 3.75 ERA against the Isotopes
The 19th ranked prospect in the Rockies organization, Jordan Patterson is hitting .444 (4-for-9) over his last three games and is hitting .500 in his four games against Sacramento this season. Fellow outfielder Stephen Cardullo has been a mainstay for Albuquerque this season, as he currently leads the team in RBIs (40), home runs (11), and runs scored (44). Undeterred by the team’s offensive futility during their 12-game losing streak is left-hander Harrison Musgrave, a highly-touted pitching prospect. Over his last two starts, the southpaw is 0-2 despite allowing three runs over 13 innings while striking out 10.
The River Cats and Isotopes have split their first eight games this year. As a team, Sacramento is hitting .270 against the ‘Topes while the pitching staff has a team ERA of 3.86. All-time, the River Cats hold a 53-32 series advantage. Sacramento faces Albuquerque once more in New Mexico August 3-6.
Thursday, June 30 (7:05 p.m. PT): RHP Joan Gregorio (1-4, 5.59) vs. RHP Jeff Hoffman (4-5, 3.49)
Friday, July 1 (7:05 p.m. PT): RHP Clayton Blackburn (5-5, 4.50) vs. LHP Kyle Freeland (0-1, 6.00)
Saturday, July 2 (1:05 p.m. PT): TBA vs. RHP Shane Carle (3-6, 5.65)
Sunday, July 3 (12:05 p.m. (PT): LHP Ty Blach (7-5, 4.23) vs. LHP Harrison Musgrave (3-5, 4.20)
River Cats look to continue success against Rainiers
The Sacramento River Cats (39-31) will host the Tacoma Rainiers (39-31), the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, for the last four games of their 12-game homestand. It will be AL-style baseball at Raley Field as the River Cats try to improve on their 6-18 mark against American League teams. Of those six wins, three came against Tacoma in their only road series win so far this year. The Rainiers currently sit tied with the Reno Aces for first place in the Pacific Northern division with the River Cats 11 games back.
Scouting the Teams
The Tacoma Rainiers have not been the same team away from the Pacific Northwest, as they hold a 15-20 record on the road. The Rainiers come into West Sacramento 4-6 in their last 10 and 9-10 so far this month. Tacoma’s strong suit is their pitching staff, as they currently rank first in the PCL in fewest walks allowed (172) and have the third lowest team ERA (3.91). Offensively, they sit in the middle of the pack, ranking seventh in team batting average (.272), sixth in home runs (63), and eighth in stolen bases (52).
The Sacramento River Cats will look to build off their series win over the El Paso Chihuahuas, as they attempt to gain ground on first-place Tacoma. The Sacramento staff, who boast the third best team ERA this month (3.79), have pitched sensationally in the friendly confines of Raley Field, registering a 3.38 ERA. Despite scoring 27 runs in the eight games so far this homestand, the River Cats bats average just .232 at home. Overall, they have the third fewest runs scored in the PCL (301) and third fewest walks (207). On the year, Sacramento has stranded 507 runners on base, second only to their prior opponent (El Paso 541).
Players to Watch
Right fielder Stefen Romero has been a stalwart for the Rainiers this season, hitting .326 (10th in the PCL) with four triples and has not committed an error in his 321 innings played this year. His running mate, catcher Mike Zunino, leads the team in home runs (14, tied for third in the PCL) and RBI (45). Shortstop Chris Taylor is hitting .400 over his last nine games with four runs scored and eight RBI. Taking the hill tonight for Tacoma will be left-hander Brad Mills, who over his last two starts, is 1-0 with seven runs allowed in 11 2/3 innings pitched. He will be followed on Wednesday night by Joe Wieland, who owns a 7.52 ERA in 12 starts this season, and has a 13.21 ERA on the road.
On the mound tonight for the River Cats is veteran right-hander Chris Heston, who in four home starts, possesses a 2.00 ERA. Thursday night’s game will feature southpaw sensation Adalberto Mejia, making his second start for Sacramento. In his first start, Mejia went seven scoreless innings, not allowing a walk while striking eight. Centerfielder Gorkys Hernadez, who is tied for the most games played in the PCL this season (68), has been a key contributor over the last five games, hitting .333 with three runs scored and two RBI. In the four game series against Tacoma earlier this season, catcher Andrew Susac hit .267 with four RBI, two runs scored, and a homer.
The River Cats’ only road series win came Apirl 23-26 against the Rainiers, in which they outscored them 20-16. Sacramento has yet to beat an AL affiliate at home as they currently are 0-8 when using designated hitters at Raley Field. Along with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Tacoma Rainiers are the only other team against who the River Cats have a winning record. All time, Sacramento leads the series 132-112.
Tues, June 21 (7:05 p.m.): RHP Chris Heston (1-8, 3.96) vs. LHP Brad Mills (3-1, 5.20)
Weds, June 22 (7:05 p.m.): LHP Ty Blach (6-4, 4.41) vs. RHP Joe Wieland (5-4, 7.52)
Thurs, June 23 (7:05 p.m.): LHP Adalberto Mejia (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Zach Lee (7-5, 4.89)
Fri, June 24 (7:05 p.m.): RHP Joan Gregorio (1-4 6.54) vs. RHP Jarrett Grube (0-0, 3.52)