With the River Cats’ (16-11) good times seemingly rolling along — winners of six of their last seven — a midday contest against the stumbling Salt Lake Bees — losers of the first two games of this match-up — should have been just what the doctor ordered.
Unfortunately for the Cats, the house call wasn’t made and no medicine could have helped them, as Sacramento was their own worst enemy by making four errors en route to an 8-1 loss to the Bees on Wednesday afternoon at Raley Field.
After a quick 1-2-3 first inning by both teams, the Bees headed to the plate in the second and struck first.
With two outs, left fielder Chris Pettit reached first on an error by Cat right fielder Adam Heether. A high looper tailed away off Pettit’s bat, veered toward the chalk line and just hit the edge of a charging Heether’s glove to fall onto the ground in right field. Salt Lake first baseman Efren Navarro singled in Pettit to etch the first run of the day onto the scoreboard.
Onto the fourth when Bees power hitter Jeff Baisley walked to lead off the inning. After a fly out by right fielder Jeremy Moore, Pettit ripped a scorching liner down the left field line that rolled to the wall for a run-scoring double. Navarro then took a 1-0 pitch into center for a single that scored Pettit.
After four frames, the Bees led 3-0.
In the fifth, after an error by River Cat shortstop Eric Sogard that allowed lead-off hitter Tyson Auer to get on base, Andrew Romine singled on a drag bunt that first baseman Anthony Recker had to field. As he got ready to toss to pitcher Travis Banwart, who was running to cover first on the play, Banwart suddenly slowed his running and Recker had no one to throw to. Romine would be safe at first.
Part of the confusion on the play was caused by the fact that second baseman Josh Horton was also running to cover first, and River Cats manager Darren Bush could understand the incertitude.
“When that’s a push bunt situation, that’s a tough play, because the second baseman is playing at double-play depth,” Bush said. “He squared a little early but just got a bad read. Once you get a bad read, now you’re in trouble because you’ve got to cover some ground there.”
Paul McAnulty went to the plate next and reached base because of a fielding error by Horton. When Horton let the ball get under his glove, Tyson Auer scored.
That was it for Cats starter Banwart, as Joe Bateman replaced him on the mound. Banwart allowed five hits and five runs, but only two of the runs were earned.
The first batter Bateman faced Baisley, who promptly took a 0-1 pitch into center field for a single that plated Romine and gave the Bees a 5-0 lead.
Bateman allowed a single to Jeremy Moore that went right at Recker. Recker scooped it up and tossed a rifle shot to catcher Donaldson to catch McAnulty at home plate, who was trying to score from third. After a pop out and then an intentional walk to Navarro, Cole Armstrong ripped a two-run single to center that gave the Bees a big 7-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth.
One of the few bright spots for the Cats this day was Shane Peterson. Peterson, who led off the bottom of the fifth with a sharp double into the gap in right center, finished the day 3 for 4. Two batters later, Sogard took a pitch down the first baseline for a single that scored Peterson.
After five, the Cats were still down by six runs.
The fourth Cats error happened in the seventh when Moore knocked a simple ground ball to first baseman Recker. He fielded it cleanly and tossed it to pitcher Bateman, but Bateman dropped the ball as he crossed over first base.
By now, Bush had to wonder why the mental errors were starting to pile up.
“The physical errors, they happen. It’s baseball,” he said. “But we made a couple of mental errors today that could have changed the game a little bit. Those are the ones that we need to make sure we don’t make. You know, it’s baseball. Bad day. Didn’t play well. Tomorrow we come out and play another baseball game.”
In the Cats part of the seventh, Heether scared Salt Lake as he stroked a shot that was headed over the wall until right fielder Jeremy Moore made an outstanding over-the-wall catch that kept it from being a home run.
After Horton, Carson and Recker had back-to-back-to-back singles with two outs in the eighth that loaded the bases, Cats catcher Donaldson ended the rally by hitting a sharp liner back to pitcher Cassevah for the out.
Cleanup hitter Baisley added to the pain by taking a 1-0 pitch deep over the center field wall for a solo shot with one out in the ninth that ended the scoring for the game.
Baisley was happy to get the win as Salt Lake had been struggling lately.
“It’s good for us,” Baisley said smiling. “Before this, we’ve haven’t been winning too many ballgames, so it’s good to get in the win column.”
Baisley is killing Pacific Coast League pitching early this season by batting near .400, and he has eight homers and 27 RBI already this season.
“It’s always good to get off to a good start,” he said. “I’ve never started off like this. Let it keep rolling and see how long it can last!”
PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Ron Nabity
More photos available here: http://www.nabityphotos.com/SRC20110426/