On paper, at least, the first game of the California League semifinals between San Jose and Visalia was a mismatch.
The Giants were playing at home. They had Ty Blach, whose 2.90 ERA led the league during the regular season, taking the hill. At 83-57, they boasted the league's best overall record and they'd had five days off after earning a first-round bye.
The Rawhide were on the road and starting Brandon Sinnery, a 23-year-old who joined the team in late July from Class A South Bend and compiled a 9.26 ERA in his last four starts of the season.
Naturally, none of that mattered.
Sinnery allowed a run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings on Saturday night, pitching the Rawhide to a series-opening 4-2 victory over San Jose in the North Division Finals.
It was an impressive showing against Blach, who gave up a run on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts over five frames.
"Everything was working," Sinnery said. "I was locating my fastball pretty well inside and out, my slider I could throw for strikes and my curveball was getting me strikeouts. And I got a lot of good plays out of the infield, which helped a lot.
"That's what it's all about in the playoffs, just making good pitches. We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game, hopefully, and it was nice to come out on top."
Sinnery began the season in the Midwest League, where he earned a promotion by going 7-4 with a 3.04 ERA. He ended up with a 5.80 ERA over 49 1/3 innings with Visalia after the string of tough starts at the end of the year.
"My last couple outings of the season were a little shaky, so it was nice to get up there on the mound tonight in a big moment and succeed," the University of Michigan product said. "It's huge to come to San Jose and win Game 1. We know if we can get another win we can go home and win the series -- that's the best-case scenario."
Visalia broke up the pitchers' duel by scoring three times in the sixth. Kevin Medrano delivered a tiebreaking single and Gerson Montilla followed with a two-run single. Medrano, Montilla and Ryan Stovall finished with two hits apiece.
The teams will square off again in Game 2 on Sunday in San Jose.
In other playoff action:
Lancaster 4, Inland Empire 1
The JetHawks opened defense of their Cal League championship by getting a dominant performance from Brady Rodgers. The Astros' third-round pick in the 2012 Draft recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts and yielded a run on four hits over 7 1/3 innings without walking a batter.
MP Cokinos, who hit .313/.395/.475 in 109 regular-season games, went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored to pace the Lancaster offense. Brandon Meredith doubled and chipped in a pair of RBIs.
Gary Mitchell doubled in the lone run for the 66ers. Box score»