66ers take South title, beat Lancaster 4-3 in 15 innings

Given the stakes, it could go down as one of the greatest games in California League history, which began 72 years ago.
Abel Baker’s fifth hit of the game, a double with two outs in the top of the 15th, scored Angel Rosa with the go-ahead run and the 66ers downed Lancaster 4-3 in Game 5 of the South Division Finals.
The Sixers will host San Jose in the best-of-5 South Division Finals beginning Thursday at San Manuel Stadium, after San Jose downed Visalia 9-5 in Game 5 of the North Finals on Wednesday. Game 2 of the Championship Series is also in San Bernardino. Games 3, 4 and 5 are in San Jose Saturday-Monday, if necessary.
Here are some of the remarkable aspects of the game:

  • The game not only lasted 15 innings, but 5 hours, 31 minutes.
  • The Sixers were down to their final out before Brian Hernandez singled home Zach Borenstein from second base in the top of the ninth to tie the score 3-3.
  • There were plenty of opportunities, but some remarkable pitching (or poor clutch hitting depending on how you look at it). The Sixers had 22 hits but left 22 on base and were 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position. The JetHawks had 13 hits but left 16 on base and were 4 for 16 with RISP.
  • Sixers reliever Ty Kelley (1-1) pitched out of not 1, but 2, bases-loaded, no-out situations, 1 each in the 13th and 14th innings. The first time was a strikeout then a double play, the second time was a double play and then a strikeout.

The Sixers had a losing record in the regular season, but are advancing to the Cal League Championship Series. Is that rare? It is, but not as rare as you might think. Lake Elsinore did that in 2011 en route to winning the league title, the San Bernardino Stampede did it in 1997 before falling in the finals. Bakersfield did it in 1984 before losing in the finals.

Cal League Championship Series starting tonight

Since I’m basically 0 for 4 in picking playoff results this year, I will steer clear of picking a winner between Stockton and Lake Elsinore in the Championship Series. It should be a good series since both teams knocked off the top 2 teams in the regular season in the league.

I know one thing, I’m glad San Jose didn’t make it. It’s more interesting when other teams win the title. Anyway the San Francisco Giants always load up that team, so its good they were unable to secure a league-record third straight title.

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.

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.

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.