Sacramento River Cats Down Las Vegas on Jackie Robinson Day
April 15th is a monumental day in baseball history, as well as a very important day in American history. This is Jackie Robinson Day. It is recognized and honored at all ballparks across the country. From amazing video tributes to every major leaguer wearing number 42 (Jackie’s number), every professional baseball team showed their respects to the legend that broke the color barrier and launched the game into the very diverse and international game that it is today. On hand at Raley Field today was ex-major leaguer Leon Lee, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Leon (Derek Lee’s father) was the first African American to manage a professional team in Japan. It was an exciting start to the game.
As for the game, the Sacramento River Cats offense put together another strong outing against the Las Vegas 51’s pitching staff today. The scoring was started in the 4th inning. When power hitting outfielder Jarrett Parker crushed a 2-0 fastball with John Bowker on 1st for his third home run of the season already. This gave the River Cats the early lead, in a game they would go on to win 4-3.
The other two runs scored were brought in with RBI’s by Brett Jackson and the very hot, Adam Duvall. With a lot of talk about the San Francisco Giants having trouble producing runs in the beginning of the season, it’s thought that it won’t be long until Adam Duvall gets called back up to the show.
Following the game, Duvall was asked if he was taking a different approach at the plate because he was not just swinging for the fence, but getting great at bats, and hitting the ball all over the park. He explained, “Well a lot of it has to do with the wind. With this wind the way it is, it’s tough on a right handed hitter to get extra base hits.” This should make many wonder what kind of numbers would he be producing if the weather cooperated? As is, he is hitting over .400 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI’s.
In the 3rd inning of Tuesday night’s game, Eric Campbell, one of the New York Mets top prospects, was pulled in the middle of the inning. Then, between innings, you could see Campbell making the walk out to the visiting clubhouse (clubhouses are located behind the outfield fence) with his gloves and bats in his hand. He had just received the call to New York.
Duvall was asked his thoughts on this and if this was motivation to him. Duvall responded, “Ya, I mean it’s great to see. I have seen it a couple times a guy getting the call during games. I didn’t know exactly what was going on right away but not long after our pitching coach gave us the news. I really just focus on what on what I can do to help this team win. I don’t really pay too much attention about what’s going on outside of this team.”
He was then asked what his preference in position to play is. He plays first and third base here at Sacramento. “Either, I like to do whatever I can to help my team win. I am even going to start taking fly balls in left field so it will give me more opportunities to get in the lineup.”
The Las Vegas 51’s had a good day at the plate as well. They actually had 11 hits, four more then the River Cats. The 51’s were just not as productive with their hits. This was partly because of the composure LHP Braulio Lara showed. Lara found himself in some tough situations in the first four innings of the game, giving up 9 of the 11 hits and two runs including 2 triples. Lara showed great poise and stuck with his game plan. Lara struck out 8 including four in a row at one point. He struck out 3 straight in the second inning then the first batter in the third. For making only his second start since 2012, Lara is showing great stuff and an ability to pound the strike zone.
Steven Okert received his first win of the season. Continuing to show outstanding results on the mound, Okert also helped himself by laying down a text book bunt in the bottom of the fifth inning, moving Brett Jackson to second base. Matt Bowman took the loss (0-2), giving up 4 runs on 6 hits, striking out 3 and walking one. World Series champion Hunter Strickland came in and closed the door for his second save in as many days.
The two teams will face off for the final game in the 4 game series tomorrow night at Raley Field. Tomorrow’s probable starters are LHP Ty Blach for the River Cats and the 51’s will send LHP Darin Gorski to the mound. This will end the season opening 8-game homestand for the River Cats. Friday they leave to play the Salt Lake City Bees.
By Joe Vicory