Second half starts today

Ryan McCurdy picked up two hits on Sunday.

All 10 California League teams return from the All-Star break today and begin the second set of 70 games.

Inland Empire, which finished second to Lancaster in the first half, will host Padres affiliate Lake Elsinore at 7:05 p.m. at San Manuel Stadium. Orangel Arenas (3-3, 6.19) will be on the mound for the Sixers.

Rancho Cucamonga will be on the road with a series at Lancaster, an affiliate of the Houston Astros.

In other games, High Desert will be at Bakersfield, San Jose at Stockton and Visalia at Modesto. San Jose was the first half champion in the North Division.


Cal League team loses big


It wasn’t a good day for the California League All-Stars. They were walloped 12-2 by the Carolina League team in All-Star play on Tuesday at San Jose Municipal Stadium.

San Jose’s Edwin Escobar didn’t benefit from the home cooking. The Carolina League batted around against the Giants southpaw, a feat it duplicated an inning later.

Braves prospect Robby Hefflinger followed his Home Run Derby win by earning All-Star MVP honors. He started the fourth-inning rally against Escobar with a double and finished 3-for-5 with a pair of two-baggers and a run scored.

Player from the local teams didn’t factor into the outcome. Inland Empire second baseman Alex Yarbrough started and went 0-for-2. Rancho Cucamonga outfielder Noel Cuevas also went 0-for-2.

Sixers pitcher Kramer Sneed went the fifth inning and was victimized by a bad defense. He gave up four hits and five runs but all the runs were unearned.

Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor delivered a two-run double and walked, while David Rohm (Braves) and Rangers No. 3 prospect Luis Sardinas both contributed pinch two-run single in the fifth for the Carolina League.

Lake Elsinore Storm catcher Robert Kral was named California League MVP after blasting a solo homer in the third and drawing a walk in the fifth.

With the win, the Carolina League took the lead in the all-time series 8-7-2.

Sixers win in dramatic fashion

Walkoff wins are always exciting. When it’s with a home run, it’s even better. Now put a first-half title and playoff berth on the line, well it doesn’t get much better than that.

The Inland Empire 66ers won in that fashion on Wednesday as Alex Yarbrough roped a three-run shot to left with one out in the bottom of the 11th for a 7-4 win over Stockton at San Manuel Stadium.

It was huge because Lancaster beat High Desert 10-3 to stay two games in front with four left. That still might be tough to overcome but three out with four left would have been almost impossible.

The Sixers (35-31) stormed the field and Yarbrough was later the recipient of a shaving cream pie during the on-field post-game interview.

The Sixers still have a tough go. They now play four against High Desert (32-34) to end the half while Lancaster (37-29) has last-place Lake Elsinore (26-40), although the Storm have been playing much better lately.

Nothing beats a pennant race!






California League rosters announced

Mark Sappington is 5-0 with a 2.05 ERA in nine starts for the 66ers.

The California League All-Star team that will take on one from the Carolina League on June 18 in San Jose has been announced. Both local teams are represented.



Jake Barrett, Visalia Rawhide; Ty Blach, San Jose Giants; Carlos Contreras, Bakersfield Blaze; Edwin Escobar, San Jose Giants; Drew Grenier, Stockton Ports; Chris Jensen, Modesto Nuts; *El’Hajj Muhammed, Bakersfield Blaze; Josh Osich, San Jose Giants; Brady Rodgers, Lancaster JetHawks; Mark Sappington, Inland Empire 66ers; *Hunter Strickland, San Jose Giants; Dan Winkler, Modesto Nuts.


Jeff Arnold, San Jose Giants; Robert Kral, Lake Elsinore Storm.


*Ryan Cavan, San Jose Giants; *JiMan Choi, High Desert Mavericks; Matt Duffy, Lancaster JetHawks; *Jake Lamb, Visalia Rawhide; Geson Montilla, Visalia Rawhide; *Ryan Mount, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes; Max Muncey, Stockton Ports; *Cory Spangenberg, Lake Elsinore Storm; Chris Taylor, High Desert Mavericks; Angela Villalona, San Jose Giants; Alex Yarbrough, Inland Empire 66ers.


Andrew Aplin, Lancaster JetHawks; Jabari Blash, High Desert Mavericks; Zach Borenstein, Inland Empire 66ers; Noel Cuevas, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes;Preston Tucker, Lancaster JetHawks.

Field staff (All San Jose)

Andy Skeets, Manager; Mike Couchee, pitching coach; Lipso Nava, hitting coach; Dave Getsoff, trainer; Dustin Brooks, strength and conditioning.

* Denotes player who will not play due to promotion or injury


Cal League musings

I haven’t posted here in a while, but here are some notes since the Cal League season ended about a month ago along with my perspective

  • Lake Elsinore won the league title with a losing record (69-71), the first team to win the title with a losing record in league history. The previous worst record to win a league title? The 2006 66ers, who were 72-68.
  • 66ers outfielder/first baseman Kole Calhoun was named Angels Minor League Player of the Year. He had an outstanding year on a team without a lot of offensive firepower, finishing with a .324 batting average, 22 homers and 99 RBIs. Not bad for a guy who only made the team because there were too many injuries in the Angels system.
  • If you didn’t see the article in the paper a few weeks ago, Tom Gamboa, who was the 66ers manager for the first two months of 2011, has a cameo role as a scout in the movie “Moneyball.” Pretty cool, and there were some pretty cool real-life connections to the Billy Beane story, including Gamboa scouting Beane in real life when Beane was in high school, then later managing him when Beane was in the minors.
  • The Angels dismissed Director of Player Development Abe Flores. Mistake, mistake, mistake. While Tony Reagins’ mistakes as GM are well-documented, I don’t see Flores as the problem. He had the Angels developing players as part of Mike Scioscia’s system. Everyone was on the same page. He helped keep impressive consistency among the staffs, and players were ready, whether they were trade bait (in the Dan Haren deal) or whether they were contributing at the big league level (Jordan Walden, Peter Bourjos, Mike Trout). Flores wasn’t the one who traded away Mike Napoli.
  • Abe Flores will land on his feet, perhaps in scouting, which was his background before serving as assistant director of player development under Reagins. Some organization will get a great baseball man, who has an astute judge of talent and the ability to run an organizaton’s player development system. Just my 2 cents. There are some good baseball people in the Angels minor league system. Lets hope the new director of player development doesn’t clean house.

Lake Elsinore still 1 win away from title

Lake Elsinore was 12 outs away from its first Cal League title in 10 years.

So close, but oh, so, so far.

Stockton scored four runs in the sixth and 11 in the seventh to blow out the Storm 15-1 in Game 3 of the Cal League Championship Series on Saturday night.

In the 11 run seventh, the Ports drew four walks and one hit batter. Three of the walks were with the bases loaded and there was a grand slam.

Lake Elsinore still leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday at 6:05 at Stockton.

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.

Bullpen woes continue for Sixers

It’s hard to understand the pitching moves the Sixers have made in the sweep at Lake Elsinore that ended Friday.

Whatever they are, they haven’t worked.

In Game 1, they brought in closer Matt Sartor to pitch the ninth, protecting a 7-6 lead. Sartor gave up two runs, as the Sixers lost 8-7 on Jesus Lopez’s sacrifice fly.

In Game 2, seldom-used Robert Boothe needs to get his work in, but protecting a 3-1 lead in the seventh? But after Boothe allowed four in the seventh and the Sixers fall behind 5-3, wasn’t it time to pull the plug on Boothe while the game was still close? The Sixers didn’t and Boothe allowed four more in the eighth in a 9-3 loss.

In Game 3, left-hander Miguel Sanfler came with a 3-2 lead and two on and no outs in the eighth. He pitched out of that jam. Instead of turning to Sartor for the ninth, the Sixers stuck with Sanfler. With two outs and runners on first and second, the right-handed Sartor was warming up. But manager Jeff Carter chose to stick with lefty Sanfler to face right-handed Lopez. Lopez delivered the game-tying single.

Then, having already pitched two full innings, Sanfler came out for the 10th and allowed a leadoff double to Adam Zornes off the wall in left-center that let to Bo Davis’ walk-off single to left with one out.

You don’t want to overwork the bullpen, to be sure. But surely there were other options out there than what Carter chose.