The Oakland Athletics came to town to beat their Triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, 9-0 in a rain-shortened exhibition game on Saturday evening. More than 10,000 fans braved Raley Field for the much anticipated return of major league baseball to Sacramento – the first time in five years.
The first six innings were perfect for A’s starting pitcher Tommy Milone, who retired each of the 18 batters he faced, including six strikeouts.
Jarrod Parker took the mound for the River Cats, allowing nine runs on five hits. In each of the first three innings, Parker saw seven A’s come to the plate. He walked the bases full in the first inning, and a base-clearing double by right fielder Josh Reddick gave the A’s an early lead.
“Milone did very well tonight,” said River Cats right fielder Michael Taylor after the game. “If he keeps pitching like that, he’ll have a great season.”
Designated hitter Coco Crisp hit a three-run shot in the second and third baseman Josh Donaldson hit a solo bomb in the fifth inning.
Parker settled down in the fourth with three quick outs. Despite the lopsided score, he tallied 10 strikeouts against the A’s in six innings pitched.
The River Cats’ first base runner came in the seventh, as did the rain, on a one-out walk to center fielder Grant Green by relief pitcher Andrew Carignan. Designated hitter Brandon Moss also reached on a walk, but Taylor grounded out to end the inning – and the game.
A’s second baseman Jemile Weeks came up from the River Cats early last season and wouldn’t discount his minor league counterparts prior to the game.
“It’s a good feeling to come back to a place where you were wanted,” said Weeks. “Some guys (on the River Cats) are major league caliber players.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin said his team was still recovering from jetlag following a road trip to Japan. He added that he continues to make roster decisions. Many of the players who took the field in an A’s uniform Saturday evening may soon return to Sacramento.
“The worst part of spring training is making cuts,” said Melvin. “Our goal is to prepare and win every day. We’re not looking too far out.”
The A’s will play three more exhibition games against the San Francisco Giants starting Monday, and host the Seattle Mariners to start the season Friday evening.
The River Cats head to Las Vegas to play the 51s on Thursday and host the Reno Aces in the home opener on Friday, April 13.
Photos by Ron Nabity