You’ll need a program to tell Quakes/66ers apart in 2011

Thursday’s announcement made it official: for the next 2 years, the Quakes will be affiliated with the Dodgers and the 66ers will be affiliated with the Angels.

Since they’ve been an affiliate for longer, my belief is the Quakes-Angels breakup after 10 years will be tougher on fans than the Sixers-Dodgers breakup after 4. I think there are quite a few Quakes fans who are also Angels fans, although I’m not sure if they were Quakes or Angels fans first.

Although there are plenty of Dodger fans in San Bernardino, there are also plenty of Sixer fans who remember fondly the teams of the past. From 1995-2000, they were with the Dodgers and won 3 Cal League titles, then from 2001-06 were with the Seattle Mariners and won 2 titles. When the Dodgers returned for 2007-10, it wasn’t the same success, although there were frequent appearances by Manny Ramirez the last couple of years.

I think both teams will lose some fans, others won’t care about the affiliation. Yet while the players change, many of the giveaways and promotions will stay the same. Perhaps the Quakes will gain some Dodger fans from the Fontana-Rialto area, who previously went to San Bernardino. Perhaps the 66ers will gain some Angel fans from the Riverside area, who felt they were too far from Rancho Cucamonga.

Eventually, fans will get used to it. Slowly, but surely.
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It’s official: Quakes partner with Dodgers

The long-rumored Dodgers-Quakes affiliation becomes official today, as both sides announced a two-year player development contract for the 2011-12 seasons. The Quakes had been affiliated with the Angels for the previous 10 seasons. The Dodgers had been with the 66ers for the previous four seasons and also from 1995-2000.

No word yet if the Sixers and Angels are announcing a deal yet.

Quakes come up short in game 5, 7-6 in 10 innings

In the end, the San Jose Giants didn’t necessarily have more late-inning magic, they just had the last late-inning magic.

Two days after the Quakes rallied from a 7-4 deficit in the ninth, but San Jose won a thrilling game 3 12-7 in 11 innings, something similar happened.

This time, the Quakes rallied from down 6-4 in the eighth, but squandered a bases-loaded, one-out situation in that inning. They also left a runner in scoring position in both the 9th and 10th innings.

The Quakes seemed like a team of destiny in 2010. All the way up until the time Darwin Perez struck out to end the game, they seemed like it. Give a lot of credit to the coaching staff of Keith Johnson, Damon Mashore and Dan Ricabal that kept the team on track and focused on winning a title.

They were balanced, with speed, defense and pitching. They just didn’t have one more run.

Is the focus for organizations to win league titles? No, developing players is more important. But they’d like to develop players in a winning environment. Win or lose, the Angels got that with the Quakes players, who had a winning, team-first attitude.

Flores, Quakes force Game 5, where pitching will be key again

Manny Flores pitched eight shutout innings and he combined with Nick Pugliese on a six-hitter as the Quakes blanked San Jose 4-0 in Game 4 on Sunday night at the Epicenter, evening the best-of-five Championship Series at two games apiece.

The pitching matchup for Game 5 will decide whether the Quakes win their first league title since 1994 or San Jose repeats as league champions.

On one hand, is Quakes right-hander Kyle Hurst, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 3. The Quakes haven’t needed him to pitch since they swept High Desert in 2 games and ousted Lake Elsinore in Game 4 of the best-of-five South Finals.

Hurst’s overall numbers aren’t impressive. He had a 5-3 record and a 5.31 ERA in the regular season. But, he was 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his final four starts in the regular season. His one appearance against San Jose? Don’t ask. It was June 1 at San Jose and he allowed eight earned runs in 1 1/3 innings in a spot-start. But that was long before he started to figure things out.

San Jose right-hander Justin Fitzgerald, who pitched seven shutout innings in Game 1, will pitch on three days rest in Game 5. That’s almost unheard of in the minor leagues, even in the playoffs.

Fitzgerald was 10-6 with a 3.45 ERA in the regular season, but never even pitched with as few as four days off between starts in the first half. In the first half  he had at least five or six days off between each of his starts. In the second half, it was four or five. Between his first two playoff starts, he had four days off.

This is the 24-year-old Fitzgerald’s third pro season and the first pro season in which he started. So he has never started on three days rest as a pro.

Quakes can’t rally a second time, lose in 11

After a stirring rally from 3 runs down in the ninth to send the game into extra innings the Quakes couldn’t rally from a five-run deficit in the 11th and lost 12-7 in Game 3 on Saturday night at the Epicenter. San Jose’s win puts the Giants one win away from back-to-back titles. Game 4 is Sunday at the Epicenter at 5:05 p.m.

With the score tied 7-7 in the top of the 11th, Jose Perez (0-1) came in to pitch for the Quakes. Perez had retired San Jose in order in his only inning in Game 2 and he struck out Francisco Peguero to begin the inning. But catcher Alberto Rosario couldn’t handle the pitch and Peguero reached on the passed ball. Juan Perez sacrificed Peguero to second and Jose Flores tripled to right center, giving San Jose the tie-breaking run. Johnny Monell, already with three home runs in the series, was intentionally walked and then Charlie Culberson was un-intentionally walked to load the bases. Brandon Crawford then unloaded a grand slam to center field and suddenly it was 12-7. Perez retired the next two batters but the damage was done. The Quakes only got one runner on in the bottom half of the inning.

The Quakes rallied in the ninth in improbable fashion. Jon Townsend led off the inning by striking out, but reached first on a wild pitch. With one out, Darwin Perez walked and Mike Trout singled to right-center to score Townsend. It was the Quakes’ only hit in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Right fielder Peguero bobbled the ball to send Perez to third and Trout to second and when center fielder Juan Perez’s throw to the infield skipped all the way through, Perez scored and Trout took third. Alberto Rosario’s suicide squeeze bunt scored Trout barely under the throw, tying the score 7-7.

In the 10th, the Quakes had a golden opportunity to win the game. Gabe Jacobo led off with a single and with one out, Angel Castillo got his first hit in 12 at-bats in the series to send Jacobo to second. But Townsend grounded into an inning-ending double play, sending the game to the 11th.

Lineup changes for Quakes’ Game 3

The Quakes returned home for Game 3 tonight with a few lineup changes.

For Game 2, manager Keith Johnson swapped the No. 2 and No. 9 spots in the order putting Alberto Rosario at No. 9 and Darwin Perez at No. 2. For Game 3, he switched them back with Rosario batting in the second spot and Perez at No. 9. Like they were in Game 2, Jon Townsend played second base and batted seventh and Matt Long played left field and batted eighth.

For San Jose, there were a few changes. The top six in the order are essentially the same, but No. 6 hitter Brandon Crawford is playing shortstop, not third base like he did in the first two games. Joel Weeks, who also serves as the backup catcher, was a hot hitter down the stretch for the Giants and got his first start of the series for Game 3. Batting seventh and playing third base. Drew Biery, who played in Game 1 at first base and batted eighth, returned to the lineup for Game 3.

The Quakes are already off to a hot start. Mike Trout hit the second pitch of the bottom of the first for a home run and the Quakes added another run in the inning for a 2-0 lead.

Quakes get split, head home for Game 3

The Quakes got what they wanted: a split in San Jose before returning home for the final three.

Following Game 1’s forgettable 10-0 loss, they got solid pitching, enough hitting and defense for a 4-2 victory in Game 2. Garrett RIchards (1-1) allowed two hits and one run in seven innings and Jon Townsend was 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and two RBIs.

Game 3 Saturday at the Epicenter looks like a dandy of a pitching matchup: Quakes right-hander Ryan Chaffee (1-0, 1.29 ERA in the playoffs) vs. San Jose right-hander Kyle Woodruff (1-0, 0.00 in the playoffs).

It’s the first time since 2006 the first two games of the championship series were split. That year, the 66ers returned home with the series 1-1 and won the title in 5 games over Visalia. In 2004, the last time before 2006 it was 1-1 after two games, Lancaster returned home but it was Modesto which won the series in 5 games.

Manager Keith Johnson decided to go with newcomer Matt Long (an injury replacement on the roster for Richard Cates) in left over Eric Oliver after Oliver’s missed fly ball in Game 1 led to 5 unearned runs. Johnson knew he was giving up offense for defense. Long wasn’t a factor. he didn’t have tough plays to make in left and went 0-for-4 at the plate.

Other than putting in Townsend in at second (he and Kevin Ramos have shared the second base job), the one other change to the lineup is swapping Darwin Perez to No. 2 and Alberto Rosario to the No. 9 spot in the lineup. Perez was 0-for-4 with a sacrifice bunt and Rosario went 1-for-4 with a run scored.

Quakes have responded before

Quakes fans, want good news?

The Quakes have responded to poor performances very well this year, which is good news in the wake of Thursday’s 10-0 disappointing loss at the hands of San Jose in Game 1 of the Cal League Championship Series.

Consider: including the playoffs, Thursday’s loss was just the fifth time this season the Quakes have been shut out. In the following game, they responded with wins three times in four chances.

In the regular season, the Quakes allowed 10 runs in a game and lost nine times. They were 8-1 in the game following allowing 10 runs in a loss.

Thursday’s loss was the biggest shutout loss of the season, but not the largest margin in a loss. That honor goes to a game May 22 against the 66ers, when the Quakes lost 16-5. What did they do the next day? They beat the Sixers, 9-8.

Quakes routed in Game 1, 10-0

After Game 1 of the South Finals when the Quakes lost 5-0 to Lake Elsinore and made seven errors in the process, Quakes fans were concerned. But the Quakes came back to win the next 3 games.

In Game 1 of the Cal League Championship Series on Thursday, the Quakes fell 10-0 at San Jose.

There were some similarities.

Both games the Quakes had defensive issues. They didn’t have 7 errors on Thursday, but the 2 errors they did have led to six unearned runs. Both starters (Garrett Richards against Lake Elsinore and Orangel Arenas on Thursday) pitched well enough to win.

The defense and hitting were worse against Lake Elsinore (they showed little life on offense), but the pitching was worse on Thursday. Although an error by left fielder Eric Oliver opened the door to five unearned runs in the seventh, Arenas (and then reliever Christian Scholl) were unable to make the big pitches to mimize damage. Scholl then gave up three more runs (one unearned) in the eighth.

The bottom line is, the Quakes showed the ability to overcome 1 bad game. That Lake Elsinore game was more than double the previous most errors they had in any game this season (three), but they recovered. Game 2 Friday will be a good indication of whether they’re able to repeat the magic of the Lake Elsinore series.

Reporting from San Jose, Quakes preparing for Game 1

I made it up to San Jose along with our photographer extraordinaire Will Lester. It’s a beautiful day in the South Bay: warm, clear skies a bit of a breeze from right to left at San Jose Municipal Stadium.

Here’s a tale of the tape between the Quakes and San Jose Giants, as they prepare for Game 1 of the Cal League Championship Series tonight.

Regular season record: Quakes 78-62; San Jose 76-64

Head-to-head record: Quakes 4 wins, San Jose 2 wins.

How they got here: Quakes won 2nd half South title, beat the Mavericks (2-0) and Lake Elsinore (3-1); San Jose won 1st half North title, had first-round bye, then beat Modesto (3-0).

Franchise trips to the Finals since the Quakes moved to Rancho Cucamonga in 1993: Quakes 3rd; San Jose 9th.

Championships since 1993: Quakes 1; San Jose 5

Last Championship: Quakes 1994, San Jose 2009

Head-to-head in the playoffs: San Jose won the only other head-to-head matchup beating the Quakes in the 1998 finals, 3-1

Parent club all-time matchups: Angels (Quakes parent club) defeated the San Francisco Giants (San Jose’s parent club) in the 2002 World Series.

2010 Team batting average: Quakes .278 batting average (tied 3rd in league); San Jose .289 (2nd)

Runs scored: Quakes 738 (5th); San Jose 739 (4th)

Home runs: Quakes 117 (tied 6th); San Jose 117 (tied 6th)

Stolen bases: Quakes 197 (2nd); San Jose 208 (1st)

ERA: Quakes 4.26 (2nd); San Jose 4.27 (3rd)

Strikeouts: Quakes 1116 (4th); San Jose 1025 (8th).

Walks: Quakes 426 (3rd); San Jose 437 (4th).

Team defense: Quakes .980 fielding percentage (1st, league record); San Jose .976 (2nd)

My prediction: These teams are extremely close. Quakes in 5.