The success of Cristhian Adames may not be a surprise -- the 28-year-old has appeared in 166 Major League games -- but his transformation into a power hitter might be, even if it hasn't been by design.
The Giants farmhand slugged a tiebreaking homer, doubled and drove in two runs Wednesday as Triple-A Sacramento beat Round Rock, 4-2, at Raley Field to take a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-5 Pacific Coast League Finals.
Video: Sacramento's Adames goes yard
The River Cats are one victory from claiming their first championship since winning the second of back-to-back titles in 2008. The franchise won four during a six-year stretch from 2003-08 as an A's affiliate and reached the Finals in 2009 and 2011 before being swept by Memphis and Omaha respectively.
"It was a good game for us and an important one," Adames said. "We've got one more to get to finish the series, so we need to keep grinding."
Not long after the Express evened the score in the sixth inning against starter Chase Johnson, Adames put the River Cats back on top with a solo blast over the center-field fence. The homer was his third in seven playoff games and his first in the Finals. He went deep 10 times in 61 regular-season contests, including six in 43 games with Sacramento.
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Jacob Heyward provided some insurance later in the inning with a two-run single.
"[McCurry] got ahead of me in that at-bat, but I was able to battle back full," Adames said of the long ball. "He threw me a changeup earlier [in the at-bat] that surprised me, but I was waiting for it on the 3-2 pitch. I put a good swing on it. It's been good for me lately. I've been hitting the ball really well and swinging hard. I don't go to the plate looking for home runs. I want to hit the balls in the gaps."
Adames opened the scoring with an RBI double in the third off Astros No. 11 prospect Brandon Bielak. The switch-hitting infielder has hit safely in all seven postseason games and is batting .417 with six extra-base hits, nine runs scored and eight RBIs.
"I really wanted to get that first run in," Adames said. "That was another 3-2 count and I also got a changeup away that I went with. I was happy to give us the lead."
A veteran with nearly 1,000 Minor League games to his credit, the native of the Dominican Republic was signed by the Rockies as an undrafted free agent in 2007. He spent parts of seven seasons in the Minors and made his big league debut with Colorado in 2014. Adames last appeared in the Majors in 2017, when he went 0-for-13 for the Rockies.
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"I worked hard all offseason and had a good Spring Training with the Cubs," Adames said. "It didn't work out there, but I'm happy to play for this organization and in Sacramento now. The guys here are great and everybody works hard. We have our mind on this last game, so we're just going to keep on playing and hopefully get it done."
Dan Winkler (1-0) picked up the win in relief of Johnson, who allowed one run on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Tyler Cyr and Enderson Franco combined for two scoreless frames to seal the win.
Astros No. 17 prospect Ronnie Dawson homered for the second night in a row for the Express. Nick Tanielu tied the game with an RBI double in the sixth.
Bielak yielded a run on four hits and two walks while striking out three in five frames. Brendan McCurry (0-1) was charged with three runs and four hits in his lone inning.
The series shifts to Round Rock for Game 3 on Friday night.