WEST SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento River Cats battled back from one of the more nightmarish starts to a game imaginable but still came up short against the Albuquerque Isotopes on Tuesday night.
After surrendering home runs to two of the first four batters it faced, Sacramento pulled itself together and forced Albuquerque to stay on top of its game throughout the night. In the end, the Cats fell 7-4 at Raley Field.
“It just wasn’t our night in the sense of just the whole flow of the game,” Sacramento manager Steve Scarsone said afterwards. “(Albuquerque) jumped us early and we came back and gave them a little bit of a fight there, but we just couldn’t seem to get anything going late in the game.”
Alden Carrithers helped the River Cats (62-49) find their footing after the first-inning home runs put them in a quick 2-0 hole. Carrithers singled through the hole at second base to bring Nate Freiman across home plate and then scored on a double by Colin Walsh to tie the score in the bottom of the second.
The Isotopes (53-58) tacked on three runs in the third, but Sacramento fired back in the fourth. Shortstop Jake Elmore, who has provided a spark for the team since his return from the disabled list, smashed a double into center field to set up runs by Ryan Ortiz and Nick Buss.
However, the River Cats would come no closer the rest of the way. They had their chances, with Elmore making it to second in both the seventh and the ninth, but were never able to convert. Meanwhile, the Isotopes added two more runs to give themselves more of a cushion heading into the final stretch.
Elmore and Walsh both went 2 for 4 and Buss went 2 for 5 for Sacramento, which notched eight hits overall on the night. Albuquerque recorded 12 hits, including three doubles and a triple to go along with the two long balls.
River Cats starter Tommy Milone took the brunt of Albuquerque’s offensive onslaught but managed to keep his composure. He struck out six batters in six innings of action before being relieved by Fernando Rodriguez. Rodriguez saw the team through the seventh inning, and Joe Savery and Seth Frankoff took care of the eighth and ninth, respectively.
“We’ve had some change in personnel over the past couple of weeks and we’ve battled through some tough scheduling and long games,” Scarsone said. “On the road, we had a doubleheader plus a 14-inning game, so our bull pen has been kind of beat up and we’re trying to get them rested as much as we can.”
Life won’t get much easier for Sacramento as the team has a game scheduled for each of the next seven days. It will see the hot-handed Isotopes three more times before playing a four-game series against the Las Vegas 51s. The River Cats will have to perform well against both teams if they are to maintain their hold on the Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League.