Sacramento River Cats v. Tacoma Rainiers Game Notes

by Matthew Roberts | Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2015
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As part of Baseball Hot Corner’s ongoing commitment to cover as much baseball around the country as possible, I attended today’s game between the San Francisco Giants Triple-A affiliate Sacramento River Cats and the Seattle Mariners Triple-A affiliate Tacoma Rainiers. Before I begin the article I would like to offer my gratitude to the River Cats’ media relations department for treating me to a top notch press experience. I certainly hope to cover more games in Sacramento in the future.

The Sacramento River Cats returned home for this series against the Tacoma Rainiers on the heels of a five game losing streak, taking it to six with a loss in the opener of this series last night. Looking to stop the skid they sent 24 year old Ty Blach to mound who came into the game with an 0-2 record and a 5.60 ERA over his first three starts to the season. However, he did come in with an impressive zero walks over the first 17.2 IP of the young season.

Blach, generally regarded as a top 10 propsect in the Giants’ farm system carried that incredible control over to the game today against a Rainiers offense that boasts a potent combination of major league veterans and top position player prospects in helping the River Cats end the losing streak, 6-2. Blach, who might top out at 90 mph on his fastball relies on control within the strike zone and a plus change-up that keeps hitters off-balance. Blach was able to use that change-up very effectively causing more pop-ups than I could count. Blach finished the game with a great line: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 3 K, only throwing one real mistake, a first-pitch home run allowed to Rainiers’ right fielder Stefan Romero on a fast left up and out over the plate that Romero crushed over the left field wall.

Despite his effective performance, Ty Blach was not the hero of this game, River Cats’ right fielder Jarrett Parker was. Parker who came into the game having earned the ignominious golden sombrero in his previous game going 0-4 with 4 Ks, went 4 for 4 with 2 home runs, 3 runs scored, and 4 RBI, including the ever elusive inside the park home run. On that home run, Parker hit a pitch very high and and to the deepest part of Raley Field just above the 403′ sign in right center. On the play Rainier’s center fielder Julio Morban made a valiant effort but saw the ball hit at the top of the wall abvoe his glove as he crashed into the wall. The height of the hit, along with Parker’s hustle right out of the box, saw Parker halfway to second before the ball hit the wall. On the carom, the ball went seemingly 75 feet back into left center where no fielder was remotely close and Parker’s hustle carried him into home without a legitimate play at the plate. Parker, 26,  isn’t regarded as a top prospect for the Giants.


The starting pitcher for the Rainiers was 24 year old Sam Gaviglio, who is in his first year both with Tacoma and in Triple-A. Gaviglio is also a soft-tosser, with his fastball regularly registering 86-88 on the radar gun during this game, and the lack of velocity haunted him in this game as the River Cats appeared to sit dead red on his fastball. Gaviglio was roughed up for 8 H, 5 ER, 1BB, and 2K over 6 innings of work. Gaviglio worked well in the zone, barely throwing mroe than 20 balls the entire game, but wasn’t abel to keep hitters off balanced the same way Blach did.

Trouble started with Gaviglio very early in the game. After stranding a leadoff runner in the first, Gaviglio gave up a leadoff single to Parker, then was the victim of a hit and run with Juan Perez, the next batter, hitting a single to get Parker to third. Perez then stole second with the throw from Rainier’s catcher John Hicks going wild into center field allowing Parker to score, and Perez to third. Catcher Guillermo Quiroz then hit a towering sacrifice fly in the left field corner to score Perez.

The third inning would prove to be the difference in this game as shortstop Ronny Cedeno and firstbase John Bowker got the rally started with back to back singles. After getting DH Adam Duvall  to ground out, Gaviglio then left a pitch over the plate and Parker hit the first of his two home runs, a laser shot into the Rainier’s bullpen in right-center on what would be a very blustery day with strong high winds going from left to right. The home run gave the River Cats a 5-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the game.

As stated above, the Rainiers boast in an interesting offense. Former top prospect Jesus Montero has started the season gangbusters but had the day off today. The Rainiers’ offense also sports two of the top 10 prospects in the Mariners’ system: shortstop Ketel Marte and first baseman Patrick Kivlehan.

Marte, who is currently blocked in Seattle by Brad Miller, had a good start to the game legging out an infield hit and easily stealing second before being stranded at third base in the first inning. Marte went hitless the rest of the way. Kivlehan, 25, came into the game with a team-leading four home runs, connected on a line drive home run to left field as part of a productive 2 for 4 day. Kivlehan, Baseball America’s 4th rated prospect for the Mariners, is currently only blocked in Seattle by uninspiring veteran Logan Morrison, but is also blocked by teammate Jesus Montero. Kivlehan can play third as well, but would be blocked by everyday player Kyle Seagar. Kivlehan may see some time in the majors this year, but his path to playing time is difficult to figure with how well Montero is playing.

As a last note, it’s often surprising to see major league mainstays in the minors. Former San Diego Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin now plays for the Rainiers after being picked up after waivers following his trade from San Diego to the Atlanta Braves in the Craig Kimbrel trade. Quentin, 32, couldn’t stay healthy for the Padres in the last three years he was there playing no more than 86 games in any season. Today, he looked absolutely lost at the plate going 0 for 4 with a strikeout and three other poorly hit balls while being repeatedly fooled by Balch’s fastball/change-up combination. There is no room in Seattle for Quentin and at this point serves as emergency depth for an organization. I imagine he’ll ride out the year in Tacoma earning his $8 million due on his contract this year, plus the $3 million buyout for next year before retiring. With his chronic knee issues and lack of productivity at the plate it looks like the career is coming to a close for the former Stanford Cardinal standout.

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Matthew Roberts
About the Author

Matthew cut his teeth on baseball during $2 Bleacher Wednesdays at the old Arlington Stadium in the 1980's and has loved the Texas Rangers ever since. When he's not teaching his young son to throw a wicked circle change, he enjoys the six month friendly rivalry with his wife and her precious Oakland A's. Follow him on Twitter @ifithasballs.

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