West Sacramento, CA - The best offense in the Pacific Coast League took the field Saturday night and then looked on as the Sacramento River Cats (45-56) ran up the score early en route to a 12-0 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas (57-42). Sacramento struck for nine runs in the first two innings and coasted to the win behind an excellent combination effort from the bullpen.
Sacramento's five-run first inning followed last night's six-run outburst and was highlighted by a two-run blast off the bat of Ehire Adrianza. Adrianza joined the River Cats this afternoon as he continues his rehab for a broken foot and wasted no time getting comfortable, driving the first pitch he saw out to left. Overall, the switch-hitting shortstop went 3-for-5 with two RBI.
"It felt good being back in Sacramento," Adrianza said after the game. "My foot feels great. I'm ready to help out the big club whenever they think I'm ready."
In 10 rehab games, Adrianza is hitting .368 (14-for-38) with six home runs, 13 RBI and 10 runs scored between San Jose and Sacramento.
Hunter Pence also made his 2016 River Cats debut tonight, going 1-for-4 with a double in six innings. The two-time World Champ and two-time All-Star is working his way back from hamstring surgery and in three games with the River Cats is hitting .500 (4-for-8) with two doubles, a home run, and an RBI.
"It feels good to be out on a baseball field playing and competing. The crowds here are so passionate and fun. I'm trying to get back out there as quick as I can."
Austin Slater homered for the River Cats, his fourth, as did Andrew Susac, his eighth. Since returning from the All-Star break, the two have combined to hit .299 (20-for-67) with seven home runs, 15 RBI and 16 runs scored. Juan Ciriaco and Rando Moreno each drove in a pair and Kelby Tomlinson was 3-for-5 with two runs scored. As a team, the River Cats racked up 19 hits, matching their third highest total this season.
Behind an explosive offensive performance, the bullpen quietly put together an excellent outing, led by spot-starter Austin Fleet. Fleet got the start after throwing just two days ago in San Jose and went three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk while striking out two.
The Chihuahuas entered this series with a PCL-best .314 team batting average while scoring over six runs per game. In their last 18 innings against River Cats pitching, though, the Chihuahuas have pushed just three runs across while generating 15 hits. Tonight, Fleet combined with Alex Torres, Duke Welker, Matt Reynolds, and Jake Dunning to hand the Chihuahuas their third shutout loss of the season.
The River Cats and Chihuahuas will play two tomorrow to close out this series. Left-hander and PCL wins-leader Ty Blach (10-5, 3.70) will take the mound for game one against El Paso's Aaron Northcraft (4-0, 4.46). Game two, which will start a half hour after the end of game one, features two bullpen arms going head to head. River Cats reliever Vin Mazzaro (2-1, 2.64) will take on Eric Yardley (2-0, 4.91). Both games can be heard live online at rivercats.com.
The Sacramento River Cats are the Triple-A affiliate of the 2014 World Champion San Francisco Giants. The team plays at Raley Field in West Sacramento, consistently voted one of the top ballparks in America. River Cats Season Tickets, Mini-Plans, and Flex Plans can be purchased for the 2016 season by calling the River Cats Ticket Hotline at (916) 371-HITS (4487). For more information about the River Cats, visit www.rivercats.com. For information on other events at Raley Field, visit www.raleyfield.com.