Quakes stun Storm, advance to Finals

It looked like the Quakes were headed back to Lake Elsinore for a decisive Game 5.

But trailing 5-2, the Quakes rallied for a run in the eighth and then three in the ninth against Cal League record-breaking closer Brad Brach.

Angel Castillo’s bases-loaded two-run double with two outs against Brach scored the tying and winning runs as the Quakes won 6-5 to advance to the Cal League Championship Series for the first time since 1998 by winning the series 3-1.

Eric Oliver started the rally in the eighth with an RBI single with two outs that meant Brach had to come into the game. But he had two outs and nobody on in the ninth, Alberto Rosario and Luis Jimenez singled. Gabe Jacobo, on the ninth pitch of his at-bat, eked out an infield single to just behind second base that scored Rosario to make it 5-4. Dillon Baird walked on five pitches to load the bases before Castillo hit a rocket to center that eluded center fielder Rico Noel, one-hopped the wall scoring two runs and set off a raucous celebration.

There was plenty of champagne in the dugout sprayed all over, dousing manager Keith Johnson in the process.

The Quakes will play Game 1 of the Cal League Championship Series at San Jose on Thursday. The best of five series will return to Rancho Cucamonga for Games 3, 4, and 5 Saturday-Monday. San Jose is the defending league champion, and also won in 2005 and 2007. But each of those times, San Jose had home-field advantage.

7 errors doom Quakes in Game 1, 5-0

After the Quakes made a season-high seven errors (they hadn’t made more than 3 in any game during the regular season) leading to four unearned runs in a 5-0 loss to Lake Elsinore in Game 1 of the South Division Finals, Quakes manager Keith Johnson had this to say.

“As bad as it was, there were positives,” he said. “They only had one inning where they put up a two spot and it could’ve been worse. That says something about the compeitiveness of these guys.”

“It’s a wake-up call. We’ve been going so good for so long defensively.”

Did the importance of the game get to them?

“I don’t think so, but we’ll know tomorrow (for Game 2).”

Game 2 is Sunday at 5:05 p.m. Lake Elsinore left-hander Juan Oramas (7-3, 3.00) will face Angels right-hander Joel Pineiro (10-7, 4.18 ERA) as part of a rehab assignment with the Quakes. Pineiro hasn’t pitched since a July 21 loss at New York. Pineiro has been out with a strained oblique muscle and is scheduled to throw 75-80 pitches.

In what could be considered good news for Quakes fans, Pineiro has had four previous rehab stints (in 2005, 2007, and 2008) during his career, compiling a 2.05 ERA with 16 strikeouts in in 22 innings.

Quakes sweep Mavericks; Lake Elsinore next

For the record, I thought before the playoffs began that the Quakes would meet Stockton in the California League Championship Series, because those were the 2 hottest teams entering the playoffs. Well, I’m already half wrong, as Modesto swept Stockton in the North.

But in the South, the Quakes are looking good in a surprisingly easy sweep of the Mavericks by 12-5 and 7-1 scores. Next up is first-half champion Lake Elsinore. That best-of-five series begins Saturday at Lake Elsinore. Games 3 and 4 are Monday and Tuesday in Rancho Cucamonga.

Except for a hiccup in mid-August, the Quakes seem to be a team on a mission this season. They’ve got power (8 home runs in 2 playoff games), as well as a team that steals bases, bunts, has good pitching, and is the best defensive team in the league.

Lake Elsinore has some very good starting pitching including Anthony Bass (8-7, 3.13 ERA) and Juan Oramas (7-3, 3.00), who figure to start the first two games against the Quakes. The Storm has a slight advantage in starting pitching and their closer, Brad Brach is the best in the league. But the Quakes have some depth, too. The bullpen allowed only one run in 9 2/3 innings in the first two playoff games, so they can’t be overlooked.

My pick: Quakes in 5 

Quakes rout Mavericks in Game 1, 12-5

The Quakes took Game 1 of the South Division first round of the playoffs by crushing the Mavericks 12-5 in Adelanto on Wedn.esday. Game 2 is at the Epicenter in Rancho Cucamonga Thursday

It was a rout in the end, but there were three key momentum changers.

1) Top of the third inning. Quakes lead 1-0 with runners on second and third and two outs. Gabe Jacobo strikes out on a wild pitch. Catcher Trevor Coleman can’t get Darwin Perez coming home or Jacobo at first, keeping the inning going. Angel Castillo hits a grand slam later in the inning to give the Quakes a 6-0 lead.

2) Bottom of the fourth inning. Having scored four runs in the bottom of the third to close the gap to 6-4, the Mavericks had two on and one out in the fourth. That prompted Quakes manager Keith Johnson to replace starter Manny Flores with Christian Scholl. Scholl induced Edilio Colina to ground into an inning-ending double play, leaving the powerful Johermyn Chavez in the on-deck circle. Chavez homered leading off the next inning.

3) Top of the sixth inning. The Quakes were clinging to a 6-5 lead and had two outs and nobody on. Reliever Tim Boyce was about to complete his third shutout inning when Mike Trout hit a high drive to straight away center field. The center field wall is higher there than the rest of the ballpark. Denny Almonte lept high to catch the ball, but it hit about 10 feet up on the wall and bounded back toward second base. By the time Almonte retrieved the ball, Johnson was waving Trout home for an inside the park home run. The home run seemed to take the life out of the Mavericks, who didn’t get a baserunner in the final four innings.

Pitching matchups set for Quakes-Mavs

For the South Division first round series between the Quakes and the Mavericks, here are the pitching matchups:

Game 1, Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. at Stater Bros. Stadium, Adelanto

Quakes LHP Manny Flores (5-9, 4.23 ERA with the Quakes; 1-1, 2.81 vs. Mavericks)

vs. Mavericks RHP Kenn Kasparek (9-5, 4.06 ERA with the Mavericks; 3-1, 2.86 vs. Quakes)


Game 2, Thursday, 7:05 p.m. at the Epicenter, Rancho Cucamonga

Mavericks LHP Jon Hesketh (3-4, 4.30; 1-0, 4.26)

vs. Quakes RHP Orangel Arenas (7-3, 4.55; 1-1, 7.48)


Game 3, Friday, 7:05 p.m. at the Epicenter, Rancho Cucamonga if necessary

Mavericks RHP Andrew Carraway (11-8, 5.33; 2-3, 8.58)

vs. Quakes RHP Garrett Richards (4-1, 3.89; 2-0, 1.42)


My prediction: Quakes in 3

Quakes lead trimmed to 1, 66ers also lose

The Quakes saw their South Division second-half lead trimmed to 1 game with two to play as host Lancaster routed them 12-5 on Saturday night while the second-place Mavericks were beating up on Lake Elsinore, 13-2.

Quakes starter Manaurys Correa (1-10) was battered for 10 runs on 11 hits (including three home runs) in just three innings and left with his team down 10-2. Lancaster hit four home runs in all.

Darwin Perez had three hits and drove in four runs to lead the Quakes attack, while Ikko Sumi was a perfect 4-for-4 with a double. Angel Castillo tied for the team lead with his 21st home run.

Meanwhile, the 66ers dropped to a league-worst 50-88 this season with a 9-5 setback at Modesto. Chris Gutierrez led the way for the Sixers, going 2-for-3 with three runs, while Andres Perez and Austin Gallagher drove in three and two runs, respectively.

The win by the Nuts moved them to within one game of Visalia for the North Division’s final playoff spot, the wild card, with two games to play. San Jose won the first half, while Stockton has clinched the second half.

Quakes win, 66ers lose in Final Series openers

The Quakes moved one step closer to winning the second-half title by routing Lancaster 8-3 in the opener of a four-game series at Clear Channel Stadium in Lancaster on Friday night.

The win moved the Quakes (76-61 overall, 37-30 second half) two games up on both High Desert and Lake Elsinore in the second half race with three games to play. If the Quakes win the second half, they will have home-field advantage against High Desert in the first round. If it’s a tie with High Desert, High Desert will host because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. If Lake Elsinore wins, the Quakes would have home-field.

On Friday, the Quakes snapped a 2-2 tie with five runs in the fifth, capped by Eric Oliver’s three-run double. Darwin Perez had three hits and two RBIs and Luis Jimenez, in his first appearance since injuring his shoulder last weekend, hit a pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning. Kyle Hurst (5-3) got the win, allowing two earned runs on six hits in eight innings.

The 66ers, long since eliminated from the playoff race, began a four-game series at Modesto with  4-0 loss. Juan Nicasio (12-10) and two relievers combined on a five-hitter for Modesto.

Josh Walter (1-10) took the loss, allowing four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. Austin Yount was the only Sixer with two hits.

In the North Division playoffs, Stockton clinched the second half title with a 9-8 victory over Bakersfield. That eliminated Bakersfield completely from the playoffs and left Visalia and Modesto vying for the final spot. Visalia, which beat first-half champ San Jose on Friday, leads Modesto by 2 games with three to play.

Playoff-bound Quakes rally from 6 down to stun Mavs, 9-8

The Quakes didn’t need to win Wednesday. They had already clinched a playoff spot earlier in the evening, thanks to Lancaster’s loss to Lake Elsinore.

But they didn’t lay down, either. Trailing the Mavericks 8-2 in the fifth inning the Quakes scored two runs in the fifth, two in the seventh, one in the eighth and two in the ninth to win 9-8 at the Epicenter on Mike Trout’s four-pitch walk-off walk with two outs. Gabe Jacobo’s team-leading 21st homer of the season leading off the inning had tied the score.

It was the second time this season the Quakes rallied to win after trailing by as many as six runs. On July 12, also at home and also against the Mavericks, the Quakes trailed 7-1 in the sixth before rallying to win 8-7 on Clay Fuller’s RBI single with one out in the ninth.

The offense will get much of the credit for Wednesday’s win, and deservedly so. Trout had two hits, including a home run, and drove in three. Jacobo was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Angel Castillo hit his 20th homer, a two-run shot, in the comeback.

But the bullpen was just as important. Michael Piazza and Matt Meyer (1-0) combined to pitch 4 1/3 hitless innings of relief after starter Orangel Arenas couldn’t make it through the fifth.

After building the 8-2 lead, the Mavericks managed only one baserunner over the final four innings, a two-out walk by Jake Shaffer in the sixth. Piazza and Meyer then retired the final 10 Mavericks they faced.

The regular season ends on Monday and the Quakes and Mavericks will face each other in the first round beginning Wednesday. It remains to be determined which team will host the best-of-three first round series.

Fish, Parmelee among those on Arizona Fall League rosters

There’s still a few days left in the regular minor league season, but the Arizona Fall League rosters were announced this week. The AFL is designed for prospects to get some added experience, and many of the players are either current or former Cal League players or have local ties.

Seven Angels prospects will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox, all of whom have experience with the Quakes. Only one is currently a Quake: closer Eddie McKiernan. Most of the others were with the team earlier this year or last year: P Ryan Brasier, P Robert Fish (Miller HS alum), P Steven Geltz, SS Andrew Romine, OF Jeremy Moore, and 2005 Quake, currently with the Angels, 3B Brandon Wood.

Dodgers prospects will be playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs (managed interestingly enough by Don Mattingly), some of whom have previous experience with the 66ers: P Javy Guerra, P Justin Miller, C Matt Wallach, SS Ivan De Jesus Jr., OF Trayvon Robinson. P Jon Link (who played for Lake Elsinore) and 1B Jerry Sands (who skipped the 66ers)  are the other Dodger prospects. No current Sixers are in the AFL.

Others in the league include:

Mesa: P Kyle Smit, who was with the 66ers earlier this year before going to the Cubs in the Ted Lilly trade; ex-Dodger prospect OF Andrew Lambo, who went to Pittsburgh in the Octavio Dotel trade.

Peoria Javelinas: P Maikel Cleto, currently with the Mavericks; OF Nate Tenbrink, with the Mavericks earlier this season, Ps Patrick Urckfitz and Kyle Greenwalt, currently with Lancaster; and 1B Koby Clemens, son of Roger who led the Cal League in batting average and RBIs while with Lancaster last season.

Peoria Saguaros: 1B Chris Parmelee, a Chino Hills HS product who is currently batting .279 with six home runs for the Twins’ Double-A New Britain squad; P Brad Brach, who set the Cal League record for saves this season for Lake Elsinore; 2B Cole Figueroa, also currently with Lake Elsinore.