The Sacramento River Cats (73-67) finished the regular season on a high note, defeating the El Paso Chihuahuas (80-60) 8-4 in a Labor Day matinee at Raley Field. The River Cats will shift their focus to the first round of the Pacific Coast League playoffs which begin Wednesday in Sacramento. They are set to open a five-game series against the Pacific Southern Division Champion Las Vegas Aviators.
Catcher Ronnie Freeman had a big day to propel the River Cats to an 8-4 win on Monday. He reached base four times, going 3-for-4 with a triple, three RBI and a run scored. Freeman, who was voted co-best teammate this season along with Francisco Pena, had a clutch three-run triple in the seventh inning to bust the game open, giving Sacramento their four-run lead.
Sacramento belted three dingers this afternoon, all from recent arrivals from Double-A Richmond. Newcomers Jacob Heyward and Zach Houchins each belted their first homers with the River Cats, while Ryan Howard launched his fourth homer of the season at Triple-A and first since June 17.
The River Cats had a day off Tuesday and will open the playoffs at home against the Las Vegas Aviators in a best-of-five series. Sacramento had not yet named their starter for game one as of Sept. 2, while Las Vegas tapped righty Daniel Mengden (4-3, 4.22) to open the series. The first pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. (PT).
Left-hander Steven Okert, the River Cats all-time appearance leader, got the start today and in doing so appeared in his 200th career game for Sacramento.
The River Cats belted three homers today and finished the regular season with 228, setting the franchise single-season home run mark. The previous record was accomplished in 2011 when the club crushed 178 bombs.
On Sept. 1, the Sacramento River Cats shutout the El Paso Chihuahuas 5-0 behind a great start from right-hander Carlos Navas and a stellar performance from the bullpen.
With the Major League roster expansion on Sunday, the River Cats team experienced some changes, with three pitchers and two hitters getting the call to the big leagues. Right-hander Carlos Navas returned to Sacramento for his first outing since June 4, getting the start and tossing four scoreless innings, giving up three hits while fanning three batters.
The River Cats used a trio of arms out of the bullpen to complete the shutout. Switch-pitching Pat Venditte continued to be lights out from the pen, allowing just one hit to go with three strikeouts to pick up his sixth win. Lefty Sam Selman and righty Dan Winkler each tossed a perfect inning to put the game away at 5-0.
Offensively, the River Cats had nine different players reach base safely. Newcomer and younger brother of big leaguer Jason Heyward, Jacob Heyward made his 2019 Sacramento debut, going 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.
With the Major League roster expanding to 40 players earlier this week, the River Cats had five players get called up to the San Francisco Giants: Right-handed pitcher Burch Smith, left-handed pitcher Andrew Suarez, LHP Conner Menez, infielder Chris Shaw and catcher Aramis Garcia.
The River Cats did not allow an extra base hit in Sunday’s game and did not allow a hit of any kind after the fourth inning - it was their fifth shutout victory of the season.
On Aug. 31, the Sacramento River Cats were blanked 3-0 by the El Paso Chihuahuas despite an excellent outing from San Francisco Giants’ right-hander Johnny Cueto in front of a sellout crowd at Raley Field.
Right-hander Cueto looked ace-like Saturday night in his second rehab start at Triple-A, working his way back from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander tossed six scoreless innings, giving up just four hits while striking out six El Paso batters. Cueto is expected to return to the Giants’ rotation this week.
Offensively the River Cats were held in check, mustering just five hits with none going for extra base hits. Outfielder Jaylin Davis did lead off the ninth inning with a single, providing hope for a comeback, but the next three River Cats were unable to keep it going.