The Sports Informant

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River Cats exhibit Jungle House Resilience in wins

By Albert Samaha
Sports Informant Contributing Writer

The ability to bounce back after getting messed up is important in life, baseball, and weekend visits to my buddy Javie in LA. So when my friend David and I made the trek down I-5 last Thursday we openly discussed our apprehension over whether we’d be able to hang with our counterparts at Occidental. After all, an average weekend for Javie is like an epic weekend for me. David and I hardened our confidence during the six hour drive with a steady stream of back and forth freestyles and Lil’ Wayne’s new mixtape, which is hotter than a Swedish sauna by the way.

The weekend began easy enough with a s’more filled bonfire and a few drinks. We got through the first night clean as Shane Battier hotel room. The test would not truly commence until the next morning, our planned day trip to Venice Beach. Day two was a long blur of sand, waves, football, and skim board. Thanks to an ingenious scheme by Javie, we were able to bring some drinks with us to the beach by disguising them as Coke Zeros. So basically instead of looking like hoodlums, we looked like d-bags because Coke Zero is no doubt a D-Bag Tag. It’s not quite on the level of upside down visors and being unnecessarily shirtless, but it’s right there with popped collars and wearing flip-flops with jeans. The long day at the beach was chased with Pastrami burgers, heaps of chili-cheese fries, and some beer pong. So by the time we were set to head out to the night’s party, I was already reeling. Flashbacks from the embarrassing performance of my previous visit were recurring in my mind. I managed to get through the party thanks to copious seating availability, before mercifully falling asleep around 3am.

I woke up Saturday morning completely drained. Javie and his roommates were hosting a barbeque in the Junkyard outside their legendary Jungle House that afternoon so I had to fight through the haze and help set up. I’m pretty sure I slept walked through my day until like 3 in the afternoon. I felt like Edward Norton at the beginning of “Fight Club.”

It’s all too easy to lie in bed the morning after a long night, when nothing seems more appealing than blankets and calm and complete nothingness. But all that will get you is a wasted day. I knew I had to get myself together. I needed to come back strong after getting messed up. I needed to fight through the fog of last night and move into the pastures of today. I needed some Jungle House Resilience. The kind of Jungle House Resilience the River Cats exhibited during their weeklong road trip to Tacoma and Colorado Springs.

The Cats’ trip, just like mine, began unassumingly enough, with two relatively painless wins in Tacoma. First was the solid 4-2 win in which James Simmons allowed just one run in 5 innings of work. The bottom third of the order played a major role in the victory, combining for 4 hits, 2 doubles, 2 RBI’s and a run. All-Star Eric Patterson went 2-5 with a run scored and All-Star Eric Munson went 2-4 with an RBI. The Cats then took the second game of the series 11-7 thanks to a Monster two home run game by  Munson and equally impressive offensive performances by Pudding Lane, Cliff Pennington, and Travis Buck. Every Cat got a hit and the team batted a red hot .483 for the game. It was like going to a party with a group of your friends and having every single one of you hook up. Usually, one friend hooks up first, the rest of the group gets pumped for him, and then the combined adrenaline and karma boost leads to even more hooks ups within the group. These things, hitting and hooking up, tend to come in bunches. Dana Eveland looked sharp as well. Through seven innings he allowed just one run, as the Cats built a sturdy 9-1 lead. He hit a wall in the eighth inning, though, giving up four runs before finally getting pulled. His 5 earned runs in 7 innings do not convey how effectively he pitched for most of the game.

But then in game three, the River Cats got messed up in a 1-11 loss. Taking the brunt of the Rainier force was starter Jerome Williams, whose stat line was about a cringe-worthy as an episode of “Daisy of Love.” 2.1 innings, 9 hits, 7 earned runs, 4 walks, and no strike outs. That’s a 4.71 WHIP and an undefined strikeout to walk ratio. Undefined! Hopefully Jerome Williams isn’t on your fantasy team.

This is tough because I really like Jerome Williams. As I’ve mentioned before, he was one of the key cogs for my Giants pitching staff in MVP Baseball 2004. Now I know how E felt in last Sunday’s episode of “Entourage” when he watched Bow Wow in his pilot. Despite the obvious, I just can’t admit nor accept that Jerome Williams isn’t that good. I think this is in large part due to a phenomenon I call the Jeffery Hammonds Theory. It states that sometimes one may confuse how good a player is on a video game with how good he is in real life. The namesake is the former Giant back-up who hit 63 home runs in my MVP 2004 franchise mode. Accordingly, I never understood why he didn’t get more playing time in real life. The same goes for Jerome Williams, a guy who posted a 2.17 ERA while compiling a 20 win season in that same franchise mode. I still half-expect Williams to jump to 24 Hour Burrito Joint status. In reality, however, Jerome Williams’ performance against Tacoma was as predictable as this year’s MTV Movie Awards: even though we all kind of knew what would transpire, it was still naturally shocking to see “Twilight” sweep the show and “High School Musical 3” out shine “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Dark Knight.” Moving on…

Of course, it’s all too easy to lie down after getting messed up. And part of being the best team in Triple-A baseball is bringing out some Jungle House Resilience when needed. In game four, the Cats showed their Jungle House Resilience. Led by Pudding Lane Patterson’s 4-6 day, Aaron Cunningham’s 3 runs scored and Matt Carson’s grand slam, the Cats defeated the Rainiers 11-6. Like Eveland in game two, Chad Reineke pulled out the win despite a shaky stat line- the hurler surrendered five runs in six innings. Sacramento fought through the fog of the previous night and stepped into the pastures of victory.

Patterson was called up to Oakland after the game, taking the roster spot emptied by the Matt Holliday trade. Given Pudding Lane’s efforts all season, an opportunity in the Show is long overdue. In fact, I was about a week away from having a Stephon Marbury-like melt down if it didn’t happen. And speaking of said meltdown, who are we more likely to see smashing a lamp in an angry tirade on the “Surreal Life” three years from now, Marbury or Adam Jones? Does Vegas have a line on this yet? Is there any chance Marbury signs with Slamball and we get to see him on Cartoon Network? I mean, that 24 hour webcast had to be the worst career move since Al Campanis appeared on Nighline. It definitely passed up Cheddar Plaxico shooting himself in his leg with his own gun for the 2008-2009 “Most Debilitating Self-Imposed Event in an Athlete’s Career Award.”

Replacing Patterson in the roster is mega-prospect Brett Wallace. The powerful third basemen was the gem of the trade for the A’s. His time in Sacramento will most likely be short as a call-up to the majors seems imminent given his propensity for crushing baseballs into the lower stratosphere, so enjoy him while you can River Cat fans.

The River Cats’ Jungle House Resilience would be tested again in Colorado Springs in their first game sans Patterson. And this beating made the loss in Tacoma seem as exciting as the Federer-Roddick Wimbledon final.

Sacramento 0 Colorado Springs 19.

The Cats got messed up.

It was like in Madden when one player jumps out to a quick lead and the other player panics, forcing passes down field, going for it on forth and long, calling all out blitzes every play. Next thing you know, it’s a 42-0 game midway through the third quarter and both players just want it to end.

The offense was bad- no Cat got more than one hit. The defense was bad- Cliff Pennington was responsible for two throwing errors. And the pitching was Nuke-Logan-at-the-beginning-of-Bull-Durham bad. Shawn Chacon had his worst start as a River Cat, giving up 9 hits, 5 walks and 8 runs in just 3 innings. That’s a 4.67 WHIP. As a starter, it is never a good sign when your WHIP is higher than your innings pitched. The true shock, however, was All-Star reliever Jay Marshall getting shelled for five runs in a single inning of work, inflaming his ERA from 1.99 to 2.91.

The loss was embarrassing, the loss was demoralizing, the loss had the potential to send Sacramento into their worst depression since… well, right now I guess. And as hard at it is to bounce back once, it’s exponentially harder to do it twice in three games. I mean, I only had enough Jungle House Resilience for one bounce back in LA.

The Cats, however, found their reservoir of Jungle House Resilience for game two against the Sky Sox. In a game only slightly more entertaining than the series premier of the “TO Show,” Sacramento squeezed out an 11-10 inning win thanks to cunning base running by Chris Denorfia in the 12th inning. The offense was carried by Roundhouse Everidge, who went 4-6 with 2 home runs, and Jeff Baisley, who went 4-5 with a homer, 2 doubles, and 4 RBIs. The Cats took a 9-4 lead into the 8th inning and appeared certain to coast to a stress free win. Then Henry Rodriguez entered the game and proceeded to surrender five runs without recording a single out. Now that is a rough day. The ol’ INF ERA is always a tough pill to swallow. But like we’ve seen all season, as long as the Cats can make it into the tenth a win is all but guaranteed. Sacramento is virtually unbeatable in extras, winning 13 of 16 on the year thus far.

The up and down week featured performances good, bad, and ugly.

The Good was Tommy Everidge. Roundhouse has displayed the second most impressive performance of the month right behind Weezy’s mixtape. In six games, the Round Mound of Pounds has gone 15-27 with 5 RBIs, 5 runs scored, 2 doubles, and 2 home runs. The hot streak pushed his batting average up to .377.

The Bad was Cliff Pennington. Since his home run in game two of the Tacoma series, Pen has gone 2-21 with 4 strikeouts, two errors, and was caught stealing once. His daily numbers since the home run game have been as such: 0-4, 1-6, 1-4, 0-7. His week has been like 50 Cent’s career- great start exuding promise for what’s to come followed by a disappointing string of misses. Pennington’s “Curtis” was that 0-7 stink bomb in Sac’s 12 inning win.

The Ugly was Sacramento’s starting pitching. After James Simmons’ impressive win in the series opener against Tacoma, the staff effectively imploded. In the team’s round of 5 starts between July 21 and 25, Sacramento’s starters pitched just 24.1 innings, allowing 42 hits, 15 walks, 7 dingers, and 29 runs. That’s a 10.73 ERA, a 2.34 WHIP, and a home run allowed every 3.5 innings. The River Cat pitching staff experienced the worst beat down since Pacquiao-Hatton. No starter was immune from the debilitating performance disease.

While the Cats are 6-2 in their last 8 games, those two losses were for a combined score of 30 to 1. Fortunately, Sacramento appears to possess an unending supply of Jungle House Resilience.


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