The El Paso Chihuahuas were just a couple of hits away from beating the Sacramento River Cats on Friday, but the Cats’ pitching and what appeared to be a shifty strike zone gave Sacramento the 6-5 win.
El Paso’s loss and the Salt Lake Bees’ win against the Tacoma Rainiers tied the two teams for first place in the PCL Pacific Southern Division.
The Chihuahuas had 10 hits but again struggled with timely hits: they were 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position. The ‘Cats, on the other hand, were 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The Cats started the scoring in the third inning with a single, an RBI double, and a two-run home run to right field by left fielder Chris Shaw (.268 BA), Sacramento 3-0.
El Paso came back to score a run in their half of the third when right fielder Forrestt Allday (.293 BA) hit a fielder’s choice to second base for the forced out. The softly hit grounder allowed the speedy Allday to get to first base safely and bring in the run, Sacramento 3-1.
The Dogs were gifted a run in the fourth by the Cats’ lackadaisical plays and some Chihuahuas alertness. First baseman Allen Craig (.285 BA) wound up on first after the Cats’ misplayed a routine ground ball. Craig then went first-to-third on a ground ball single to center field. Once at third, a wild pitch by starter Chris Stratton allowed Craig to hustle in another run, Sacramento 3-2.
The game was close until the Cats scored a run on El Paso reliever Eric Yardley (7.36 ERA) in the seventh, only to come back and hit him harder in the eighth. Yardley gave up three runs on eight hits and faced 13 hitters in his 1 2/3 innings of work., Sacramento 6-2.
The stadium seemed deflated until the Dogs started to pick away at the Cats’ lead in the eighth inning with a single and a couple of doubles. Outfielder Shane Peterson’s double brought in two runs, but the Dogs left him on third, Sacramento 6-5.
The crowd was invigorated by the rally though and was chanting players’ names as they faced the Cats’ closer. Unfortunately for the fans and the Chihuahuas, the game ended with a runner on third base.
The winning pitcher was Stratton (1-0) and the losing pitcher was Lockett (3-9). The save went to Tyler Rogers.
Highly touted catching prospect Fransisco Mejia is expected to make a start soon for the Chihuahuas after being traded to the Padres from the Indians during the week.
MLB Allstar Evan Longoria had three at-bats with the Cats as part of his ongoing minor league rehab assignment for the San Fransisco Giants.
Sacramento 6 El Paso 5 – Friday
WP: Stratton (1-0) | LP: Lockett (3-9) | S: Rogers (1) | Time: 3:03 | Attn: 7,635
Box Score | Team Records: Sacramento (43-56), El Paso (52-47)
Next Game: Saturday, 7:05 pm at Southwest University Park. Sacramento RHP Tyler Herb (1-1, 5.59) vs. El Paso RHP Brett Kennedy (8-0, 2.65). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Words: Larry Monarrez | Pics: Andres “Ace” Acosta – Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post