SHAKY PITCHING, BATS AND DEFENSE DROP PACIFICS FROM FIRST

Home Stand Opens with 8-3 Loss to Diamonds

The old adage that “pitching and defense win ballgames” couldn’t have been proven truer than in last night’s lackluster loss to the Pittsburg Diamonds at Albert Park.

Might as well throw in some humdrum hitting to the mix for a full appreciation of the general malaise the Pacifics find themselves in as the pages fly from the August calendar.  With a so-called “stretch run” thus far not in evidence, the Pacifics have gone a mediocre 10-9 since the July 17th seasonal mid-point, while the surging Sonoma Stompers have claimed first place with a 15-4 record over that same period.

One need not look much further than the decimated starting pitching staff to find answers.  With Max Beatty (9-2, 3.77) and Jared Koenig (7-1, 4.16) the only starters to perform consistently, let alone just even show up for their scheduled starts, the disabled list has thus far claimed power-armed Fernando Baez (7-1, 3.19), former MLB star J.P. Howell (0-1, 3.60) and Jose Morel (3-2, 4.20). 

A frustrated manager Matt Kavanaugh has been forced to patchwork together a string of fill-in starters who have largely proven ineffective.     

Without an available arm, Kavanaugh last night gave a showcase start to sidearm right hander Sam Burton (0-1, 13.50 ERA) with the hope of getting maybe 2 or 3 innings to bridge the gap before calling on his weary bullpen. 

“Sam flew in from the East Coast Monday night to throw some try-out bullpens for teams in our league, so we told him his pen for us would be as our Tuesday starter,” said Kavanaugh. “It didn’t matter if he gave us only 2 innings, we needed someone to help us out.  Under those circumstances, I thought he did a pretty nice job for us.” 

Burton lasted only those 2 innings, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits before tiring. 

The evening began promising enough. In the bottom of the 2nd with 2 outs, rookie third baseman Zach Files launched an opposite field homerun to left field for his 10th homerun of the season giving the Pacifics an early 1-0 lead they would not be able to hold. 

After showing some effective 2-seamers and a biting slider, Burton kept Pittsburg off the board in those first 2 innings that Kavanaugh wanted from him.  But, in the 3rd Burton allowed 4 straight singles to give the Diamonds a 3-1 lead, departing with runners left on first and second.

Long-man Brandon Warner (1-0, 5.71 ERA), mopped up the mess by inducing a double play grounder and a pop-up to end the inning without further damage. 

With the game still within reach, the Pacifics started chipping away in the bottom half of the 3rd.  Kyle Ulanday hit a 1-out double off the left field wall and scored on a Rando Moreno 2-out RBI single to right center, slimming it to a 3-2 Pittsburg lead. 

Unfortunately, Warner would have an inning to forget in the 4th. With 1 out he walked 9-hole hitter Jose Garcia. Brett Smith then singled, followed by a Morgan Blatnik single to score Garcia. Gabriel Bracamonte then reached on a critical error by Files at third which should have gotten Warner out of the inning, allowing Smith to score. 2016 league MVP Joel Carranza followed with a 3-run no-doubt, knife in the heart homer to left center, extending the Pittsburg lead to 8-2. 

The Pacifics did scratch one more run across in the bottom of the 4th but though still early in the game, it proved too little, too late.  With 1 out, Files walked and stole second before Jake Taylor punched a 2-out RBI single through the right side, scoring Files and cutting the lead to 8-3. 

After the 4th, the game became a standoff as Pacifics lefty Mitch Williams exchanged humdrum innings with Diamonds Sam Agnew-Wieland.  Between them, they allowed only 5 total hits from the 5th inning on, but the proverbial damage was already done.

While remaining atop most of the league’s pitching, fielding and hitting categories, last night the Pacifics did not pitch, hit nor field well. 

As the August 15 trade deadline nears the SOS signals for capable starting pitching have been broadcast far and wide.  Adrift with no immediate rescue on the horizon, Kavanaugh will turn to his ace Max Beatty to right the ship tonight against Pittsburg, buying one more precious day to find land. 

The Pacifics are now 39-20, 1 game behind Sonoma for the lead in the Pacific Association. 

Come out to Albert Park this Thursday, August 9th for “Best of Marin Night,” sponsored by Rocky’s Quality Meats. Special “Marin French Sausage Sandwich" on Bordanave’s Sourdough, courtesy of Rocky’s Quality Meats, will be served at Jane's First Base Café. The evening will feature King Pericles of the Marin Shakespeare Company delivering the ceremonial first pitch and a monologue.  A "Marin Voice" singing competition will be held between the first third innings, and the Marin Musical Theater Company will perform. Marin Wildlife will also be at Albert Park showing off a tortoise and snake in the Satchel Paige 3rd Base Plaza. The Pacifics will host the Sonoma Stompers for the 7 o’clock matchup this Thursday!

Following Thursday night’s contest, the Pacifics will be making history with the first ever “Oysters & Baseball Festival”, presented by the Hog Island Oyster Company! On this special night, the Pacifics will be renamed as the Oysters.  Visit PacificsBaseball.com to purchase a special ticket package including a general admission ticket, a 6 oyster sampler, a glass of Van Ruiten sparkling rose, and an Oysters jersey - the exact same one that the Pacifics will be playing in! Oysters and jerseys will also be available for ala carte sale at the game. Friday’s game against the Sonoma Stompers is slated to start at 7:05. 

Tickets can be purchased at pacificsbaseball.com