The River Cats stopped their six-game losing skid after taking the second game of a double header to close out their road trip against the OKC Dodgers (20-7) and come into May with a record of 11-16 and trail the Reno Aces (15-11) by 4.5 games in the PCL West, and trail the Dodgers by 9 games in the League. The River Cats are tied for last in the League with the Salt Lake Bees.
The River Cats simply took a beating by the Dodgers, no ifs, ands, or buts, about it. They were also tasked with facing top pitching prospects Bobby Miller, and Gavin Stone for OKC who easily handed losses to Sacramento. Stone was also called up to make his Major League debut days after facing the River Cats, but didn’t fair to well in his Major League debut and was swiftly sent back to Oklahoma City. That move is not a knock on Stone, he was called up for a quick start against a very dangerous Philadelphia Phillies lineup, and I’m sure we’ll see him back in the Dodger’s rotation soon enough, along with Bobby Miller.
The opt out clause that Gary Sanchez holds on his contract was set to expire on Monday May 1, which prompted the promotion of Giants 2020 #1 pick Patrick Bailey to Triple-A who made his debut on Sunday night. Sanchez is hitting only .164 with one double, no home runs, and 19 strikeouts in 55 at bats with Sacramento so it would be a miracle to have the Giants call him up. The Giants would officially grant Sanchez his release on May 2nd.
There is no wonder that the River Cats are having such a woeful season as no River Cats player is in the Top 10 of any offensive categories, but Clint Coulter is 15th in RB with 20, and Casey Schmitt is #20 in batting with a .301 average. The only bright spots on the mound continue to be Ryan Walker and his all-around pitching performances this season, as well as Kyle Harrison and his 15.51 strikeouts per nine innings average which places him third in the league. Harrison continues to have control issues though, but his stuff is fantastic.
Around the league Phillip Evans and Buddy Kennedy from the Reno Aces are still tearing up the league as Evans has an amazing .431 average, and Kennedy is second in the league hitting an even .400. Salt Lake’s Jo Adell leagues Minor League baseball with 10 home runs, and Mike Ford leads the league in RBI with 39.
Cody Bradford of Round Rock continues to dominate on the mound and ends the month with a 5-0 record, 0.64 ERA, 0.74 WHIP in 28.1 innings, which is only one third of an inning behind the league leader.
The weather and my other interest, concert photography, kept me away from the ballpark much of this week as the Oakland Athletics Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas Aviators came into town but the River Cats seemed to have right the ship a bit as they take four of six this week including two back-to-back walk offs on Thursday and Friday night.
The series started horribly with a loss to Las Vegas by a score of 2-1 where the River Cats left 14 on base and went 0-15 at the plate with runners in scoring position. The highlight of the night would belong to Patrick Bailey who doubled for his first Triple-A hit.
Both of Las Vegas’ runs were driven in by Turlock’s own Tyler Soderstrom who knocked in Zack Gelof on a double and single in the first and third innings respectively.
The River Cats would win the next four games in the series that included a five run fourth inning in Game 2, and Kyle Harrison’s strongest performance of the season on Saturday night, Game 5 of the series, where the lefty showed what the hype is all about. Harrison pitched four shutout innings striking out seven, while walking none. Harrison’s strikeouts per nine improved to 15.56. Harrison’s performance earned him the Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of the Week Honors for May 1-7.
The River Cats ended the series going 4-2 against the Aviators this week, putting them at 15-18 on the season and in a three-way tie for last place with the Aviators, and this week’s opponent the Salt Lake Bees. The Bees come into town with hot hitting Jo Adell and his Minor League leading 12 home runs and I’m curious to see how many he has at the end of the series here in Sacramento.
While OKC and Round Rock are running away with the best records in the PCL, both teams are in the East Division, while Sacramento and Salt Lake are in the West, and both are only 3.5 games behind Division leading Reno. A good week by either team could put them right back in the mix for a chance at a post season berth as the first half of the season ends on June 23rd.
The big news which was just announced today is that Casey Schmitt was just called up to the Giants to make his Major League debut. Schmitt is batting .313 with 10 doubles and 22 RBI. In corresponding moves, the Giants Designated for Assignment, Darin Ruf who had been rehabbing in Sacramento, and optioned Cal Stevenson to Sacramento.