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San Jose becomes first club to clinch

Mixon leads the way as Giants nab Cal North first-half crown
June 10, 2011
The song that became an anthem in San Francisco during the Major League playoffs last season -- Journey's "Lights" -- was playing on San Jose's clubhouse speakers Thursday night.

There was celebrating to be done.

The Class A Advanced Giants became the first Minor League club to clinch a first-half division crown with their 11-5 victory in Modesto and Bakersfield's 4-2 loss to Stockton.

The Giants (42-17) have won five straight en route to the title. San Jose has finished above .500 each season since 2004.

"Our kids have played extremely well. This is a credit to how hard they have worked," said manager Andy Skeels, who guided San Jose to a 93-47 record and the Cal League championship in 2009 and led Double-A Richmond last season. "This is a good start to our season."

Not yet halfway through the 140-game campaign, the Giants have a double-digit lead over each of their four North Division peers.

The club leads the 10-team Cal League in ERA (3.34) -- Stockton and Rancho Cucamonga are tied for second with 4.38 -- and runs scored with 379, or 6.42 per game.

"Our pitching staff is exceptional," Skeels said. "And when you have a group of position players that are grinders, you are going to be successful."

A league-high five players -- leadoff man Gary Brown and a quartet of hurlers -- made the All-Star squad, which was announced Thursday.

The game was a microcosm of the 2011 season for San Jose: The club received both solid pitching and plenty of runs.

Starter David Mixon (4-0), the league's reigning Pitcher of the Week after his seven two-hit scoreless innings against Stockton on May 31, was again impressive. The 26-year-old right-hander allowed three runs on six hits over six frames. Skeels called Mixon "the anchor of the rotation."

"It's nice to have someone out there with his experience," the skipper added.

Relievers Chuck Logfren and Jose Valdez combined on the game's final nine outs.

San Jose is 5-0 when Mixon, who has also appeared in games for Triple-A Fresno and Richmond this season, takes the mound.

The Giants also got to Modesto starter Daniel Perkins early, tagging the right-hander with eight earned runs. Perkins allowed seven hits and issued six walks over 2 2/3 innings.

The usual suspects were responsible. Brown, the 24th overall Draft pick in in 2010, went 2-for-5 with two RBIs; Ryan Cavan went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and cleanup man Chris Dominguez went 4-for-5 at the plate. Dominguez, a third baseman, set his single-game career high with a 5-for-8 game on May 16.

The lineup has trudged on without shortstop Brandon Crawford, who was batting .322 when he was promoted directly to the Major Leagues on May 26.

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to