Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on June 28, 2012
The Sacramento River Cats struggled on Wednesday night as they dropped their second game in a row, falling to the Salt Lake Bees 7-2 at Raley Field.
The River Cats began to struggle early in front of the 7,741 people in attendance, who accompanied a variety of canine fans brought to the park for Raley Field’s “Bark in the Ballpark” night. The promotion brought a wide variety of fans to the ballpark, from humans, to chihuahuas, to great big St. Bernards, one of which assisted in the throwing of the first pitch.
Sacramento sent out right-handed pitcher Bruce Billings as the starting pitcher. Billings entered the game with a 2.86 earned run average, which was good for being second best in the Pacific Coast League. He also had a 3-1 record at home coming into the contest, but encountered adversity while on the mound Wednesday night.
After striking out the first three batters he faced, Billings gave up three consecutive singles to start the second inning and put the Bees on the scoreboard first. Billings was able to get the next batter, Bees second baseman Adam Heether, to ground out into a double play. But Billings couldn’t capitalize on the double play.
With a runner on third base, Bees designated hitter Paul McAnulty hit a ground ball up the middle that River Cats second baseman Eric Sogard dove for, but was unable to send to first base in time, leaving McAnulty safe at first with an RBI single.
Already down 2-0 with two men on and two outs, Billings then gave up a three-run home run to Bees center fielder Kole Calhoun to put the Bees up 5-0 after just two innings.
Meanwhile, the River Cats offense struggled to give Billings any run support. Sacramento was unable to get anything going until the bottom of the fifth inning.
After right fielder Michael Taylor walked to lead off the inning, Sogard hit a single that allowed Taylor to advance to third base with no outs. Taylor crossed home plate on a single by catcher Anthony Recker that put Sacramento on the board, but still trailing 5-1. But that was all the River Cats were able to score that inning.
Billings was unable to stop the Bees from scoring when he gave up another home run, this time to Ed Lucas, which put the score at 6-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning. The home run marked a new season high for Billings in home runs (two) and runs (six) allowed in a single game.
Sacramento got a run back in the bottom of the seventh inning on a throwing error that allowed first baseman Daric Barton to score from third base.
Relief pitcher Justin Souza was not able to limit the Salt Lake runs, either. Souza came in to relieve Billings in the eighth inning and promptly gave up a home run to the second batter he faced, third baseman Luis Jimenez. Jimenez sent the first pitch he saw from Souza deep over the fence in left field to give the Bees the 7-2 lead.
Bees starting pitcher Greg Smith was stellar, limiting the River Cats to just one run on six hits, spread out over six innings of work.
Sacramento will hope to get back to winning when they face the Salt Lake Bees again Thursday night at Raley Field at 7:05 p.m.