Down On The Farm – Week #23: A’s Minor League Playoff Report

Jemile Weeks - Down but not out!

The A's are calling up Jemile Weeks, Daric Barton and Jesse Chavez. It will be interesting to see Week's and Barton's role on the team, each having lost their starting job. Weeks probably has the best chance of reclaiming his though. - Zonis

With the minor league regular season having reached its end for most teams last Monday, this week was all about the first round of playoff action. And as far as the A’s organization goes, two of the team’s affiliates earned their way into post-season play this year. The Class-A Burlington Bees just managed to sneak into the Midwest League playoffs with a losing record on the season, while the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats clearly earned their way into the Pacific Coast League playoffs by posting the best regular season record in the PCL. Familiar names like Jemile Weeks, Daric Barton, Michael Taylor, Kila Ka’aihue, Grant Green, Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray all played key roles in the post-season battles this week. And I’ve provided game-by-game recaps for both the River Cats’ and the Bees’ series here this week. You can keep updated on all the A’s top minor league prospects on my Athletics Farm blog and get lots more details on the last week of minor league post-season action here on Athletics Nation right after the jump…


PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

GAME #1

Reno Aces 2

Sacramento River Cats 1

(LP – Bruce Billings)

Player Of The Game:

Pitcher Bruce Billings

(6 IP / 0 ER / 10 K)

Worth Noting: They key play of the opening game of the PCL playoffs for Sacramento was Grant Green’s fielding error at third base in the top of the 3rd inning which ultimately led to 2 unearned runs for Reno. Otherwise, starter Bruce Billings was brilliant, allowing no earned runs and striking out 10 over 6 innings of work, but the right-hander still ended up taking the loss on Wednesday. Outfielder Michael Taylor had 2 of Sacramento’s 5 hits, walked and scored the River Cats’ only run of the game.

GAME #2

Reno Aces 0

Sacramento River Cats 1

(WP – Jesse Chavez)

Player Of The Game:

Pitcher Jesse Chavez

(8 IP / 0 ER / 10 K / Win)

Worth Noting: Game #2 of this series was another tight pitchers’ duel. With the River Cats down a game in the best-of-five series, 29-year-old right-hander Jesse Chavez, whom the A’s acquired from Toronto last month for cash, took a perfect game into the 6th inning and ended up striking out 10 over 8 scoreless innings to earn the win. Right-hander Jeremy Accardo tossed 1 scoreless inning in relief to pick up the save. Second baseman Jemile Weeks had the big blast of the night when he homered in the bottom of the 3rd inning to provide the only run of the game for either team.

GAME #3

Sacramento River Cats 7

Reno Aces 11

(LP – Rich Thompson)

Player Of The Game:

Outfielder Michael Taylor

(3 for 4 / 2 Home Runs / 2 RBIs / 3 Runs)

Worth Noting: Sacramento lost Game #3 of their best-of-five playoff series in a heartbreaker on Friday night. The River Cats grabbed the lead in the 2nd inning, lost the lead in the 4th, tied the game in the top of the 6th, fell behind again in the bottom of the 6th, tied the game again in the top of the 8th, and finally lost the lead for good in the bottom of the 8th. Starter Travis Banwart was pressed into service when scheduled starter Dan Straily was recalled by the A’s to fill injured starter Brandon McCarthy’s spot in the big league rotation. Unfortunately, Banwart had a tough time of it, allowing 6 runs on 7 hits in 3 1/3 innings of work. Outfielder Jermaine Mitchell homered in the top of the 3rd inning to put Sacramento up 2-0. By the time the 4th inning was through though, the River Cats were down 6-2. But thanks to back-to-back home runs from designated hitter Kila Ka’aihue and Michael Taylor and a triple from first baseman Daric Barton and an RBI single from catcher Jason Jaramillo, the Cats came back to tie the game in the top of the 6th. Right-hander James Simmons then surrendered a run in the bottom of the 6th to hand the lead back to Reno. Michael Taylor then hit his 2nd home run of the game in the top of the 8th to tie the game again. Right-hander Rich Thompson came on for the River Cats in the bottom of the 8th and, after getting 2 outs, then gave up 4 runs to Reno to secure their victory in Game #3.

GAME #4

Sacramento River Cats 4

Reno Aces 3

(WP – Jeremy Accardo)

Player Of The Game:

First baseman Daric Barton

(Game-Winning Home Run)

Worth Noting: Sacramento won Game #4 of their best-of-five playoff series in a cliff-hanger on Saturday. Catcher Blake Lalli, acquired from the Cubs in the Anthony Recker deal, hit a 3-run homer in the 2nd inning to give the River Cats the lead. Starter Brad Peacock allowed 2 runs on 3 hits in 5 innings of work, and right-hander Arnold Leon surrendered 1 run in 2 innings of relief to tie the game at 3-3 in the 7th. The game remained tied until first baseman Daric Barton led off the top of the 10th inning by blasting a home run over the right field wall to provide the decisive blow for the River Cats. Right-hander Jeremy Accardo picked up the win with 3 scoreless innings in relief.

GAME #5

Sacramento River Cats 4

Reno Aces 7

(LP – Merkin Valdez)

Player Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Kila Ka’aihue

(2 Doubles / 2 RBIs)

Worth Noting: Designated hitter Kila Ka’aihue was the big hitting star for Sacramento in Game #5 on Sunday, doubling twice and driving in a pair of runs for the River Cats. Top pitching prospect Sonny Gray got the Game #5 start and held Reno scoreless over the first 4 innings. Sacramento held a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 5th inning, when Gray surrendered 3 runs to allow Reno to tie the game. The former 1st-round draft pick exited after allowing 3 runs on 8 hits and striking out 5 in 6 innings of work. He was followed by right-hander Merkin Valdez, who allowed 4 runs in the 7th inning, which proved to be enough for Reno to clinch the series and end Sacramento’s season on Sunday. The River Cats finished the 2012 regular season with a PCL-best record of 86-58.


MIDWEST LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

GAME #1

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 0

Burlington Bees 4

(WP – Tanner Peters)

Player Of The Game:

Pitcher Tanner Peters

(7 IP / 0 ER / 6 K / Win)

Worth Noting: Starter Tanner Peters, who didn’t join Burlington till midway through the season, was the big star for the Bees in the first game of their playoff series against Wisconsin. The 22-year-old right-hander allowed just 2 hits and struck out 6 over 7 scoreless innings to earn the win. Outfielder Bobby Crocker had the big blow of the game with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 2nd inning, while this year’s 5th-round draft pick, first baseman Max Muncy, had 2 hits, including a double, and drove in a run for the Bees.

GAME #2

Burlington Bees 0

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 4

(LP – A.J. Cole)

Player Of The Game:

Pitcher A.J. Cole

(4 IP / 1 ER / 5 K)

Worth Noting: A dropped foul popup by first baseman Max Muncy in the 1st inning opened the door for 3 unearned runs to score with 2 outs. Starter A.J. Cole allowed just 1 earned run and struck out 5 in 4 innings of work before giving way to relievers Nate Eppley and David Mota who held Wisconsin scoreless the rest of the way. Burlington’s lineup managed only 3 hits in the game, courtesy of third baseman Wade Kirkland and outfielders Aaron Shipman and John Wooten.

GAME #3

Burlington Bees 0

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 3

(LP – Drew Granier)

Player Of The Game:

Pitcher Drew Granier

(6 IP / 2 ER / 6 K)

Worth Noting: The Bees’ bats didn’t put up much of a fight in dropping the final game of their first-round best-of-three Midwest League playoff series on Friday night. Burlington managed just 4 hits on the night and failed to score for the second time in the 3-game series. Starter Drew Granier made a noble effort, allowing just 2 earned runs on back-to-back solo shots in the 4th inning, and 1 unearned run after a 2-out error by shortstop Addison Russell allowed another run to score in the 5th. In 6 innings of work, Granier allowed just 3 hits, 1 walk and struck out 6 in his final appearance of the season.

You can check out my blog - Athletics Farm - for daily updates on the A’s minor league teams and all the top prospects down on the farm.

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