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SF Giants Minor Lines 9/10/19: Avelino walks it off

You bet they got this party started!

minor lines

What the heck? I take a couple of games off and we’re ending the minor leagues?

Efficiency, thou runneth amok!

(By the way, read JJ Cooper’s twitter thread on this piece from yesterday, it’s a worthy read in a lot of ways and first and foremost makes the point that the opening sentence of that article is somewhat misleading)

Anyway, while it still exists, let’s check in on the end of the PCL season!

Sacramento beat Round Rock Express (Astros), 8-7

How crazy was Game 1 of the PCL championship?

It was Split Zito Jersey Crazy! That’s the highest the scale goes, people!

This game included seven — count ‘em SEVEN — lead changes, and included three dramatic score reversals in the final 11 batters of the night. All leading up to Abiatal Avelino’s walk off single to send the home fans into delerium.

Avelino — who has been a real boost for the RiverCats offense in these playoffs — gets the headlines, but the real plaudits go to Catcher Ronnie Freeman whose nifty slide was able to avoid the tag on an offline throw from Not-So-Forever-Giant Drew Ferguson to score the game winner.

Exciting! So what happened before that thrilling moment? Well there aren’t going to be a lot of pitching highlights, I’ll tell you that — Melvin Adon’s 1 scoreless inning made him the only pitcher on either side of the affair to have a clean line. Round Rock showed a curiously casual attitude toward their pitching, leaving starter Kent Emanuel in the game long enough to absorb seven earned runs and let three different Round Rock leads escape their grasp.

That started right off the bat when Jacob Heyward picked up his first RBIs of the post-season with a fisted single to RF that drove in two in the bottom of the second.

Ryan Halstead would hand that lead back the very next inning thanks to a bout of control issues — he hit Ferguson to lead off the inning and later added a walk — and an untimely dropped flyball from Joe McCarthy.

But the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot battle continued with yet another lead change in the bottom of the inning. Levi Michael led off with a solo HR to tie things up, but it was a perfect bit of small ball that gave the RiverCats the lead.

The game would settle down for a stretch — two innings of scoreless peace and calm. But Round Rock’s Chas McCormick touched Sam Wolff for a two-run HR in the 6th that swung the lead the Express’ direction, and through the middle innings it looked like that might be the difference.

But in the bottom of the 8th, Francisco Peña punctuated a terrific 4 for 4 night by pulling a two run HR just inside the foul pole to recapture the lead and send his dugout into hysterics. As the Giants have subtracted one important contributor after another from the Sacramento roster (another important member of the team, Williams Jerez was cut loose before the game to make room for Johnny Cueto’s return to San Francisco), Peña has been a crucial presence in the RiverCats lineup. The career backup Catcher has stood tall down the stretch for these hopeful contenders.

But that wasn’t the final twist of the screw for the night. Steven Okert — Sacramento’s all time leader in appearances — couldn’t seal the deal, coughing up a game-tying HR to the first batter he saw on an 0-2 pitch. Gut punch! But the pain went away quickly, as walk offs heal all wounds.

That was a bracing start to the series! What other heroics will we have in store? Check back tomorrow and we shall see what we shall see!

Tonight’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento (Chase Johnson) vs. Round Rock (Brandon Bielak)

Richmond arms continue to try to give Sacramento quality innings as they chase the ring (I swear I didn’t even mean to do it!). Get out to Raley Field, fans, and support these Cats for their honest and goodness final home game of 2019.

And, of course, we can’t go without a mention of this sad story. Regime change always means change of personnel — something we’ve been seeing in this org for the last couple of years — so there’s not much surprise here. The Giants have a core group of development and scouting staff who have been with the org far longer than the industry standard. Matt Nerland, one of those let go yesterday, had started with the Giants as an intern in the fateful year of 1989, more than three decades ago. Once upon a time it was his job to update a giant magnetic board that recorded every transaction around the majors by hand. Steve Balboni’s scouting reports were relied on heavily in each of the team’s championship runs. And, of course, in addition to his scouting work, Brian Johnson hit one of the most dramatic HRs in San Francisco history. And a special Minor Lines call out for Andy Skeels who guided the Augusta Greenjackets and San Jose Giants to league championships in 2009 and 2010 — his first two seasons of managing in the minors. Quite a start to a career.

These guys are definitely all Forever Giants. Let me just start my own little hashtag: #PutScoutsOntheWALL.