Inge powers River Cats with big night

Rehabbing big leaguer collects five hits, drives in seven runs

By Robert Emrich / Special to | May 26, 2012 10:11 PM ET

Brandon Inge's season has been an up-and-down experience, to say the least. His attitude has kept him going, making his return to the Major Leagues and ensuing success that much sweeter.

Continuing his rehab assignment in the Pacific Coast League on Saturday, the A's slugger went 5-for-5 with a pair of homers and seven RBIs to power the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats to a 10-0 romp over the Reno Aces.

One night after joining Sacramento and going 1-for-2 with an RBI, Inge ripped a solo homer in the first inning. He doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by A's No. 9 prospect Chris Carter in the third and smacked another double in the fifth.

With with the bases loaded in the sixth, Inge took Bryan Woodall deep to left field to extend the River Cats' lead to 8-0.

Inge's two-run single in the eighth was his fifth hit, tying the team record.

"I'm just trying to see the ball right now. With the strength I put on this offseason, it's kind of let me relax and not do too much," he said. "Especially last year, after I had mono, my swing got too big. Now I'm trying to be short and compact and let the strength take over."

After spending his entire career with the Tigers, Inge batted .100 with a homer and two RBIs in nine games and was released on April 26. He signed with Oakland four days later, a chance for which the 35-year-old third baseman remains grateful.

"Detroit gave me an opportunity to be able to play somewhere else early on," said Inge, a 1998 second-round Draft pick. "They could have held on to me and tied my hands that way. But they were good about letting me go and finding a spot, and I caught on with Oakland and that was a blessing in disguise.

"[Manager] Bob Melvin is fun to play for and they are a fun team to play for. What started out looking dim has started to turn around. Things happen for a reason."

The groin injury that placed him on the disabled list could not have come at a worse time for the Virginia native, who had four homers and 17 RBIs in only 11 games with the A's. Inge said he's feeling better but isn't sure about the timetable is for his return to Oakland.

"It's been fun. I've been in the same organization for a long time and you get to know everyone over time and you take it for granted, meeting new faces," he said. "Being around here, it's been fun. I'm very happy here, so hopefully, things stay the same. The guys are great. So far, everyone I've met in this organization is a class act."

Grand slams have been a calling card for Inge, who hit two in a three-game span with Oakland.

"There's something about when you get the bases loaded, your teammates did a good job of battling and trying to get on base for you and you kind of owe it to your team to put on a good at-bat," Inge said. "The grand slams, I wouldn't say it's a luck thing; I'm just trying to put good wood on the ball and fortunately, they've been going out."

Sacramento starter Bruce Billings improved to 4-1 after allowing three hits and striking out eight over eight innings.

Derek Norris, Oakland's No. 7 prospect, homered and scored twice, while Manny Ramirez singled in five trips to the plate in his seventh game with the River Cats.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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