The Sacramento River Cats suffered a loss Monday night at Raley Field to the New Orleans Zephyrs in a game where the action started at the top of the second inning and was done by the bottom of the third.
Game night started off on a sweet note with Elaina Sogard, 10, singing the national anthem in front of the stadium crowd of just over 5,000 including her cousin, River Cats shortstop Eric Sogard.
Once the teams took the field, however, it was one sour note after another.
Zephyrs were up first and, although newly-signed free agent pitcher Lenny DiNardo was having a rough start, the River Cats held their own and sent the Zephyrs back to the dugout with a single hit and no score.
Jemile Weeks (2B) led off the River Cats first at-bat with a single to right field before being thrown out at second. Eric Sogard (SS) and Steve Tolleson (3B) both grounded out to finish a lacklustre first inning.
When the Zephyrs came up to bat in the second inning, things started to heat up fast.
First, Zephyrs’ Matt Dominguez (3B) walked, followed by a quick single to right field by Oscar Salazar (1B) allowing Dominguez to advance to third. After a wild pitch from DiNardo, pitching coach Scott Emerson sent in pitcher Joe Bateman to take over the mound.
It didn’t help much, though, as Zephyrs’ catcher Brad Davis reached on a force attempt and Dominguez scored.
From there, it was one single after another, and score, score, score for the Zephyrs until they racked up nine runs to River Cats’ zero.
The third inning brought even more trouble for the home team. Zephyrs’ designated hitter singled to right-center field, then Joe Thurston (2B) was hit by a pitch and walked, then right fielder Chris Aguila walked.
Finally, Zephyrs’ Josh Kroeger (CF) went up to bat with bases loaded and hit a grand slam to right field on a 1-0 pitch, making his seventh home run of the season and taking the score to 14-0.
River Cats answered back in the bottom of the third, but not before Mitch Canham (catcher) grounded out, and Weeks struck out swinging.
Finally, a single from Sogard took him to first and a Zephyr throwing error got him to second. When Tolleson (3B) hit to a hole in right-center field, Sogard scored the one and only River Cats run of the night.
The scoreboard remained unchanged through the 4th, 5th and 6th innings: no hits, no runs, no errors.
Despite a series of pitcher changes after the 5th inning, the River Cats’ fate appeared to be sealed with a series of three-up, three-down innings lasting to the end of the ninth and a final score of Zephyrs 14, River Cats 1.
The River Cats face off against New Orleans at Raley field again Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. After Monday’s requiem, perhaps this time they’ll play a new tune.