On Jackie Robinson Night at Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield, the entire Blaze team donned throwback number-42 jerseys, and rode the strong right arm of Carlos Contreras to a 5-1 win over the Inland Empire 66ers.
The game ended with some weather-related theatrics, but the first seven innings is where the game truly took place.
Carlos Contreras (W, 1-0) got the start, and delivered. Contreras, the only current member of the Blaze rotation with a sub-10.00 ERA, allowed the first run of the game on a third inning solo homer to Sixers outfielder Zachary Borenstein, but was dominant outside of that one batter.
In all, Carlos went 6.0 innings, allowed just that one run on two hits, fanning eight for the second straight time. The outing marked the first quality start for the Blaze this season, and it made all the difference.
Bakersfield took the lead for good relatively early off Sixers starter Eswarlin Jimenez (L, 0-1). In the 4th inning, Ryan Wright walked to lead off the frame, and one out later Juan Duran singled to right to put runners at the corner. Ken Griffey then rolled the dice, sending Duran from first, and Kyle Waldrop put the ball in play, scoring the tying run on a grounder to first. The big swing came immediately thereafter, though, as Friday night's hero, Yorman Rodriguez, slammed a two-run homer to right-center to put the Blaze up 3-1, and the team largely cruised from there.
The Sixers only real chance came in the 8th. After Jacob Johnson tossed a scoreless 7th, the Blaze attempted to go to Brian Pearl for the 8th. Pearl, however, was not listed on the lineup card for the night, and was not allowed to enter. Jimmy Moran, instead, was called upon to pitch without warming up. Moran retired two batters, but two walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases, and Griffey again went to the pen - this time for Brooks Pinckard (S, 2). Pinckard retired Brian Hernandez on a grounder to end the 8th, and finish the Sixers only real threat.
It was at this point that the wind picked up, gusting in from centerfield at speeds over 40mph. Dust blew across the field, banners flapped wildly, but the game went on. Bakersfield used a wind-aided triple to push across two runs in the 8th, and Pinckard got the final three outs in the 9th to wrap up the win, and grab the save.
With the win, the Blaze improve to 2-10 on the year, and will try for a win streak on Tuesday night behind Jonathan Moscot. The Sixers will counter with Andrew Wood.
It's 23-Buck Tuesday, sponsored by Subway, where family fourpacks are available for just twenty-three dollars!
Can't make it? Listen to the broadcast LIVE online at BakersfieldBlaze.com, with Dan Besbris calling all the action at 7:05pm. First pitch is set for 7:15pm.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.