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Thursday Pebble Report: Edwar Cabrera Shines, but Modesto Falls in First Playoff Game

Edwar Cabrera was fabulous again, but unfortunately, he couldn't contribute in the bullpen or at the plate.  <em>Photo by Charlie77</em>
Edwar Cabrera was fabulous again, but unfortunately, he couldn't contribute in the bullpen or at the plate. Photo by Charlie77

High-A Modesto - L 2-3 (12) , California League Playoffs, First Round Game 1 of 3

It has been a banner year for the Modesto Nuts.  They set a team record for season attendance for their fifth consecutive season, had the California League MVP (Kent Matthes (2009, 4th round)) and Pitcher of the Year (#11 PuRP Chad Bettis (2010, 2nd round)), breakout seasons from #5 PuRP Nolan Arenado (2009, 2nd round) and #24 PuRP Josh Rutledge (2010, 3rd round), minor league strikeout champion #19 PurP Edwar Cabrera (2008, DR) and saw two first half All-Stars Dan Houston (2008, 7th round) and #30 PuRP Mike Zuanich (2008, 28th round) graduate to AA.  That fantastic season isn't over, and the Nuts are trying to make sure it extends as long as possible.

Cabrera dominated the Stockton Ports (Athletics) in Game 1 of the California League first round last night.  The southpaw struck out seven in seven strong innings, walking one and allowing one run.  His only real blemish was a solo home run by Conner Crumbliss.  Jared Clark (2009, 12th round) and Angelys Nina (2007, DR) each hit solo home runs early in the game to give Modesto their two runs.  That appeared to be enough with Cabrera on the mound, but the relievers couldn't finish the job.

Kurt Yacko (2008, 8th round) gave up three singles in the eighth to allow Stockton to tie the game, but Bruce Kern (2010, 23rd round), who was called up from Asheville for the playoffs, got two outs with two men on base to shut the door.  Chad Rose (2008, 16th round) gave up a walk-off home run to the first batter in the 12th inning for the loss.  

Modesto was five outs away from taking a 1-0 lead in the 3-game series.  Now, they'll have to win two straight games to take the series.  Arenado doubled, singled and walked in the loss in which the Nuts got just 6 hits in 12 innings.  #12 PuRP Rafael Ortega (2009, VZ) was promoted from Asheville for the playoffs and went  0-for-4 from the 9-spot in the order as the starting right fielder.

The San Jose Giants earned a first round bye and will host the winner of the series, but for the Nuts to face them, they will have to defeat Stockton in two straight games.  The good news is both will be at home.  #11 PuRP Chad Bettis (2010, 2nd round) will start Elimination Game 1 tonight at 8:05MDT.

Rookie Casper -  L 2-5  (16-21, t-3rd, 7.0 GB)

Trevor Story (2011, sandwich pick), Rosell Herrera (2009, DR), Carl Thomore (2011, 2nd round), #17 PuRP Will Swanner (2010, 15th round) and Dillon Thomas (2011, 4th round) all had the night off, so predicatably, the Ghosts offense was lacking.  Francisco Sosa (2008, DR) tripled and scored and Yafistel Roja (2009, DR) had two hits as the Ghosts offense managed just five base knocks.  

Still, Casper led 2-0 and looked to be in business with Jefri Hernandez (2008, DR) pitching extremely well.  Then it all came undone in the fifth inning.  Errors by Roja and Jose Rivera (2009, 23rd round) on consecutive batters preceded a steal of home and two-run home run, all part of a five run inning, all unearned.  Casper faces Ogden tonight at 7:05 MDT for their regular season finale.


Short Season-A Tri City

The Dust Devils already advanced to the Northwest League Finals by sweeping Boise Tuesday, so they had their day off to scoreboard watch, waiting for their opponent.  By rule, the West Division champion is awarded the right to host the series regardless, so the Dust Devils would be the road team.  However, there is a scheduling conflict with an Oregon football game in Eugene, so if Eugene (22-16 second half) won Game 3 last night, the Dust Devils would host the Championship series, a clear advantage for Tri City, who was 15-4 at home in the second half.  Unfortunately, first half champion Vancouver (15-23 second half) defeated Eugene 5-4 last night by escaping a bases loaded ninth inning jam, so the Dust Devils will take to the road to face the Canadiens.  Game 1 is actually a home game in Pasco on Friday, with Games 2 and 3 scheduled for the weekend in Vancouver.