Salt Lake installed a humidor in the offseason. Offense will be down, the Bees said. But Sacramento doesn't seem to have gotten that public service announcement.
San Francisco third-base prospect Adam Duvall went 5-for-6 in hitting for the first cycle in the 16-year history of the River Cats and center fielder Darren Ford finished a single short of another cycle in a 15-7 rout of the host Bees.
"It was exciting," said the No. 19 Giants prospect. "I would probably give it an A+. I had some good at-bats and swung the bat good. I was seeing the ball good. It was the kind of game that you hope to have every day, but it doesn't work out that way. I put some good at-bats together and it was pretty awesome."
Duvall hit an RBI double off the top of the center-field wall with two outs in the first inning on a ball he was certain was going to leave the yard. He told the coaches after the inning that he couldn't hit the ball any better than that and it was the best ball he's driven all year. Humidor 1, Duvall 0.
Salt Lake installed the humidor last month in an attempt to neutralize the thin, dry Utah air. There have been three homers in three Bees home games this year compared with 13 homers in eight road games. But neither the humidor nor the Bees could contain the offensive onslaught that followed.
The 26-year-old lined a second two-bagger to left in the third. Then he cracked a solo homer over the left-field wall that allegedly struck the light tower in the fifth. Humidor 1, Duvall 1.
"It was a ball that he just crushed," said Sacramento manager Bob Mariano. "It was at least half way up the light stand, one of the farthest I've seen. He has easy power to all fields, no doubt about it. He got all of it."
The third baseman struck out to lead off the sixth and legged out a standup two-run triple to right in the seventh. Leading off the ninth, Duvall hit a weak chopper over pitcher Ryan Mattheus' head to shortstop Josh Rutledge, who tried to barehand the ball. With Duvall hustling down the line, Rutledge was unable to come up with the ball cleanly and the official scorer ruled it an infield single.
"I got jammed," said Duvall, who appeared in 28 Major League games with the Giants last year. "The only play [Rutledge] had was to barehand it and he couldn't make the play. I was legging it down the line sniffing that hit. I was close to [the cycle] last year, but there was a play at first base that to a lot of people wasn't even close. That was disappointing.
"After the first two at-bats tonight, after the first two doubles, that is a good day in itself. But as a competitor, I just wanted to keep competing every at-bat. Going into the last at-bat I knew I needed a single, but I was trying to hit a ball hard into a gap to be honest."
Duvall fell a single short of the cycle last May 13 in Reno and he missed the feat by a triple two days later at home against Albuquerque. In what Mariano called a hitters' park in a hitters' league, Duvall wasn't to be denied a third time.
Sacramento's 21 hits were a Pacific Coast League high this year. The team's 15 runs more than doubled its previous season best of seven and stand two behind Tacoma and Las Vegas. The game featured a combined 35 hits, including 18 that went for extra bases, and Duvall accounted for 12 total bases.
Ford needed a single to replicate Duvall's feat, but he was left in the on-deck circle when John Bowker made the final out of the ninth.
"It actually wasn't a surprise because if you followed his season last year, the first two months he got off to a remarkable start," Mariano said of Duvall. "He was leading all of baseball in home runs in the months of April and May. This is a different season, but he's started off the same way by having quality at-bats.
"Ford had a big game too. Hitting coach Andy Skeels has been working with him because he had a rough start to the year, but that work in the cage is starting to pay off. I was wondering if any team has ever had two cycles in one game. That would have been something."
Sacramento starter Robert Coello (2-0) allowed three runs on five hits over five innings. He struck out four batters, issued three walks and threw 57 of 92 pitches for strikes.
Bees reliever Edgar Ibarra (0-1) took the loss after surrendering five runs -- three earned -- on five hits and a walk while recording two strikeouts over two innings. Left fielder Grant Green, designated hitter Carlos Perez and catcher Jett Bandy plated two runs apiece.
Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB.