River Cats alone in first after Mortensen gem

By Robbie Enos / Sacramento River Cats | July 23, 2010 10:02 PM

After coming off a series sweep of Colorado Springs in which they scored 49 runs, the Sacramento River Cats had a change of pace Friday night against the Tacoma Rainiers.

That change of pace was a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners affiliate in Game 1 of a four-game set. There were only eight total hits in the entire game. The River Cats (57-43) are now alone in first place after Fresno lost at Reno.

In a night of little offensive power, the main star was River Cats starting pitcher Clayton Mortensen, who threw 8.0 shutout innings. It was a victory for the River Cats defense as well, with Mortensen collecting only three strikeouts. His final line included just one walk and two hits allowed.

Because to a strong performance from Tacoma starter Michael Pineda, the River Cats offense had a lackluster night. An Eric Sogard triple in the third and a Corey Wimberly run created in the sixth were the only critical products of the night for Sacramento.

Pineda was taken out in the sixth, finishing up with eleven strikeouts through 5.0 innings pitched. In six starts he has a 3.71 ERA with 42 total strikeouts and nine walks. He walked zero batters in the game, but despite his performance earned his first loss of the season.

The Rainiers almost snagged the win back in the bottom of the ninth facing reliever Jon Hunton. Chris Woodward started the inning off with a single to left field. Matt Mangini broke up a double play ball to keep the out count at one.

Mangini advanced to second on a wild pitch by Hunton, and then scored on a Mike Carp single to left field. With two outs Michael Benacka entered the game and retired Matt Tuiasosopo on strikes to finish the game.

Sogard got the Cats on the board in the third with an RBI triple. After Adam Heether was hit by a pitch, Sogard blasted a pitch off the wall to drive in the first run of the game. Pineda retired the first seven batters with three strikeouts before allowing the run.

Pitching completely dominated the game early. Pineda collected eight strikeouts through the first four innings. Mortensen retired the first 10 batters he faced before giving up a single to Matt Mangini in the fourth.

Pineda continued his unreal strikeout show. Through the first five innings of play he had sat down eleven batters after getting all three of his outs in the fifth by that manner. He struck out the side in both the third and fourth innings as well.

With mega Pineda out of the game and reliever Yusmeiro Petit coming in to pitch the sixth, the Cats added another run. Wimberly led things off with a soft line drive to left field. He then stole second base before Travis Buck drew a walk.

Manager Tony DeFrancesco called for the double steal, getting Buck thrown out at second but allowing Wimberly to steal his 38th base of the year. Michael Taylor finished things up with a groundout RBI.

With the win, the Cats have now won 31 of their last 41 games. Coming into the game their 563 runs scored were the third best in the Pacific Coast League. Their 497 runs allowed ranks 10th. They also rank fifth in the league in home runs and first in both walks and strikeouts.

They will face off against Tacoma again Saturday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet California, along with Johnny Doskow's radio broadcast of Talk 650 KSTE. After they finish the series Monday. the Cats return for an eight-game homestand.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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