On Opening Night, Dom Mazza had a brush with sports notoriety, surrendering a 2-run HR to Tim Tebow that got him on Sportscenter highlight reels and a guest appearance on the Dan Patrick radio show. “That’s not really how a minor leaguer wants to make his 15 minutes, really” I thought to myself.
But last night, Mazza, the 22 year old LHP from Walnut Creek and the University of Santa Barbara, lived out a Pitcher’s dream. Mazza grabbed himself a bit of baseball immortality that he’ll treasure forever: the night he was absolutely perfect and did something that nobody has ever done in the long history of the Sally League*
Congratulations, Dom! Let the Perignon flow!
HIGHLIGHTS: Mac Williamson hit a Grand Slam among three hits; Domenic Mazza threw a perfect game with 9 Ks.
Sacramento beat the Las Vegas 51s (Mets), 11-1
splitting its four game series 2-2
|a- Carlos Moncrief||PH-RF||2||2||2||0||0||0||1||0||0||.342|
Though the final score doesn’t reflect it, this was a taut game throughout until the RiverCats exploded for 10 runs in their final two at bats. The game breaker came from a great great source, as Mac Williamson stepped up with the bases loaded in a 1-1 game and delivered the slam. What a happy sight to see again!
The game had to feel good for Mac, who is slowly working his way back into hitting rhythm. After back to back games last week in which he had 5 Ks in 7 ABs, his timing has been gathering and Monday night he had just got under a long fly ball, but he still had nothing to show for it but an 0-fer. But in Tuesday’s afternoon game he picked up 3 hits and a walk, and drove in 5 runs in his final two At Bats. The game also marked an important yardstick for his rehab as it was the first time the Giants had let him play back to back days in the field. They can’t afford to rush him and re-aggravate the injury, but I reserve the right to be impatiently hopping around on both feet for days and days on end waiting for him to be ready for the callup.
While the offense exploding for 11 runs and 15 hits is the ultimate story of this game, for the first 7 innings it was Joan Gregorio’s day to star, as the big righty shut down the 51s offense on four hits while striking out 5. Gregorio allowed just one run, as the 51s strung together two singles around a walk in the 4th, and was throughly in command throughout. Particularly notable was his strong tendency to go inside on RHH with his slider early in counts, setting them up later for the slider away or a high riding fastball that he used effectively. Here he is blowing away Ahmed Rosario for the second time on the day.
Great starting pitching, tons of scoring, and a big hit from the big guy. That’s one satisfying afternoon at the ballyard!
Far away from the sunny climes of Sacramento, we had more of this seemingly never-ending mist/rain/fog condition that once again threatened the Richmond game. But the tarp came off around 5:00 o’clock and the grounds crew got to work getting the field in game shape:
And Play Ball it was! Still the game was played in a perpetual misting dreariness and for most of the night it appeared that Richmond was heading toward another dis-spiriting loss. As much trouble as Richmond’s offense has in the best times, on a night when Chris Shaw was getting his first rest of the season it was doubly challenged (Shaw was available to PH and you might hear Jay Burnham speculating about where in the 9th we might see him in the following clip). But with two out in the 9th a leadoff single from Miguel Gomez set up the struggling Hunter Cole to be a hero:
And they didn’t stop there! Let’s reward the fans for hanging in there, Squirrels!
The winner was a very deserving Jordan Johnson, who threw 4 fantastic innings out of the pen. Before you get excited, no Johnson is not being moved to the bullpen. The Squirrels had planned for Gage and Johnson to piggyback in this start, as a string of rainouts and off days (and another off day to come) had left their rotation is some disrepair (Johnson himself had only pitched once in the previous 13 days). The piggyback is part of an effort to reset the rotation for hopefully more regular work to come (Matt Lujan had also appeared recently in relief for the same reason).
Johnson is still the #6 starter on the team, and in this game he showed why he belongs there. Getting something of a challenge assignment following his difficult Cal League season in 2016, Johnson has been strong in the early goings. He’s posted a 16 K to 4 BB ratio in 16 innings, while allowing 4 runs. He’s still a little prone to the gopher ball as he’s already allowed 2 HRs. But the Giants and Johnson have to be encouraged by what they’ve seen from him so far this year.
The rain is finally supposed to be moving out of the area today so the Squirrels should get some blue sky to play under the rest of the week. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t still be weather challenged as those skies are bringing record high heat, possibly in the 90s, before the week is out. Out of the shower and into the frying pan?
San Jose Bats
|Jose Vizcaino Jr.||1B||4||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.200|
The Giants opened the game against rehabbing major league reliever Grant Dayton and Dayton, who had a tremendous 2016 for the Dodgers’ bullpen, made short work of his competition, striking out Jalen Miller, Ryan Howard, and Bryan Reynolds in succession.
Though Reynolds would go on to collect three singles on the night, the San Jose offense never got much more competitive on the whole as the evening progressed. For the second consecutive night, the Quakes stomped on the Giants, making it a runaway when they scored 7 times over their final three at bats. Really a rough showing for the San Jose squad against the Dodgers talent-laden Cal League roster (and it won’t get easier as they face LA’s 2015 1st rounder Walker Buehler today). They did collect 9 hits on the night, but all were singles and they added no walks while striking out 11 times. They went just 1 for 6 with RISP.
Two of the team’s hits came from Jose Vizcaino, Jr. who seems to be rounding into a little better form. In the absence of much else exciting to talk about in this series, let’s watch his Monday night HR
#SJGiants reliever roster shuffle today: Caleb Smith and Yordy Cabrera activated, Carlos Diaz and Caleb Simpson taken off.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) April 25, 2017
To keep arms fresh, San Jose made use of the taxi squad before the game, but the results from the newcomers weren’t quite as sharp as the outgoers. Cabrera and Smith combined to allow 5 runs in their two innings of work. Caleb Smith’s travails are particularly surprising (and upsetting). After very strong work in the Sally last year, Smith hasn’t gotten it going in 2017. He’s made just two appearances, allowed four runs, and has 6 BBs against 0 strikeouts on the year. He’s thrown just 30 of 65 pitches for strikes so far. Not good!
The Giants hope to avoid the sweep this afternoon with Jake McCasland playing the role of Stopper. We’ll see how convincing he is in the part.
One roster addition coming down to San Jose is erstwhile Richmond Catcher Matt Winn. In fact, there were a whole mess of org catcher related transactions yesterday, and maybe this is the best place to capture them all:
Transactions:— GPT (@giantsprospects) April 25, 2017
Jeff Arnold, Eliezer Zambrano: SAC->Richmond
Ali Castillo: SJ->Richmond
Matt Winn: Richmond->SJ
Adam Sonabend, Tyler Horan->DL
|Frandy De La Rosa||1B||3||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.200|
|a- Zack Bowers||PH-1B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.040|
|Brandon Van Horn||SS||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||0||1||.207|
Put it in the Scrapbook!
|Domenic Mazza (W, 1-2)||9||0||0||0||0||9||0||3.48|
Domenic Mazza has never been a fast-track guy. The lefty native of Walnut Creek was overshadowed at Santa Barbara by teammate Dillon Tate, and lasted until the 22nd round of his draft. He had never started a year on a full-season club prior to this April, going to XST in each of the past two seasons. He’s been a solid innings eater for the Greenjackets since joining their rotation last June. But last night he was kissed by the Gods, as Crash Davis might say.
Mazza was truly dominant in his masterpiece, throwing a “Maddux” as well as a Perfecto. He needed just 85 pitches to get 27 outs, while striking out 9, relieving manager Carlos Valderrama of any difficult pitch count decisions. He was a ground ball machine early in the game, picking up 7 groundball outs the first time through the order. Then Mazza broke out the strikeout pitch, at once point K’ing five consecutive batters in the 4th and 5th.
He also got plenty of support from his defense, particularly RF Sandro Fabian who helped preserve the perfecto twice in the late innings:
as well as a dandy catch by 3b Kevin Rivera to end the 8th.
Mazza also got a bit of less helpful support. If you read the game story linked at the top, you’ll note that he had to overcome a long delay in the 8th inning when a benches clearing baseball push-and-shove fracas resulted from Kelvin Beltre’s leadoff HR.
This frankly was bad form on both parties. Lexington’s Catcher and Pitcher were apparently irritated over Beltre’s enjoyment of his shot; Beltre didn’t want to be intimidated. Fine. But there’s a Perfect Game going on, people. Get a grip on it! Somewhere in the unwritten rule book there is surely an invisible regulation on keeping idiot emotions in check when somebody’s on the verge of making history!
(Digression! Admittedly, this is a sore spot for me: Back in 1975 I almost saw Pete Falcone throw a no-hitter in Atlanta but Willie Montanez managed to incite a benches clearing brawl with two outs in the 8th thanks to his, let’s say “advanced ability to annoy people” and after the dust-up settled down Falcone’s no-hitter was finished exactly one pitch later. That game still annoys me 40 years later!).
Anyway, 20 min or so and several ejections later they managed to play the six outs of drama. No wonder Mazza was a trifle shaky on those last few outs (three of which resulted in highlight reel plays!)
But in the end it was joy, tears, no doubt some alcohol and likely many many hundreds of congratulatory texts and calls. If this ends up being the highlight of Mazza’s pro career, it’s not a bad one to hang your hat on. And hey, the San Jose rotation is a bit thin you know.... just sayin’! He’d get to see his friends and family at the stadium!
*I will admit that it’s unclear to me exactly what is meant when they say that this is the first 9-inning perfect game in the history of the South Atlantic League. Depending on how exactly they’re defining that, they could be speaking of a history that stretches back to 1946, 1963, or 1980. I suspect they are referring to 1980, when the Western Carolina League adopted the South Atlantic League name, but the league certainly stretches back further than that in more or less the same form. Anyway, I haven’t seen anything that says specifically, so if anybody has feel free to comment!
ED NOTE: Helpful reader sent in this list which basically tells us that no matter how far back in the league’s various permutations you’d like to go you’re not going to find another game like Mazza pitched last night: http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Minor_League_Perfect_Games
All day and even morning ball today. Richmond and Augusta games will be over by the time some of you are reading this very sentence.
Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: Off Day
Richmond: Andrew Suarez vs. Tanner Scott
San Jose: Jake McCasland vs. Walker Buehler
Augusta: DJ Myers vs. Nolan Watson
That’s all for now. One more round of applause before we head out: