After a rocky start to the season on the road, the Sacramento River Cats came home to Raley field for their regular season home opener. Despite their record (2-6), the River Cats remained optimistic with hopes of igniting a winning streak as they entered the series with the Salt Lake Bees. The stadium was brimming with excitement and bright with orange throughout the crowd during the River Cats debut of their first “ Orange Friday.” Each Friday home game they will wear their new orange Sactown jerseys as they continue to bridge the gap with their Major League affiliate, the San Francisco Giants.
Despite one throwing error by Salt Lake’s first baseman Kyle Kubitza, it proved to be a very clean and well played game defensively by the both teams. The game was tied at three runs a piece from the sixth inning until the game was decided in the 10th; that was when Salt Lake’s third baseman Jefry Marty drove in the go ahead run. The Bees would ultimately claim victory coming away with their seventh win of this young season.
The River Cats sent LHP Matt Lujan (0-1) to the mound to face Tyler Skaggs of the Bees. Lujan did not have over powering stuff with an average fastball of 89-91 mph and a decent change up that was 8-9 mph off of his fastball. It was very clear that Lujan possesses good control of those pitches and continued to pound the strike zone. Bees left fielder Nick Buss was ready for whatever Lujan was going to throw. Nick Buss crushed two home runs off of the left-handed pitcher. First a solo shot in the fourth and another in the sixth giving Buss his first home runs of the season. Tyler Skaggs, the lefty was equally impressive. While Skaggs won’t blow you away with overpowering speed, he did have some very good movement on his pitches. Coming from his 6’4” frame, his fastball had that great left-handed tail that was difficult for the River Cats to put a barrel on.
The bats have not heated up and produced yet, as the fans in Sacramento have come accustomed to. Defense is already in mid-season form. With fancy glove work from Hak-Ju Lee at shortstop and sliding catches from Jarrett Parker in left field, it seems this team is ready to take off in the win column once the offense rolls in. This can also be said for the Bees. Defense is definitely at a premium when you see what #24 Jefry Marte is doing on the hot corner. On a few different occasions, Marte cleanly gloved some very hard hit balls right on the foul line and made effortless throws clear across the diamond to first base.
As game 2 of this four-game home stand kicks off, it’s hard to imagine that the second game of the series would have anything different to offer than a defensive gem. The River Cats will send veteran LHP Ricky Romero to the mound to face Salt Lake’s Chris Jones.
By Joe Vicory