STOCKTON – The Ports' six-game winning streak against the rival San Jose Giants appeared to be coming to an end Thursday night as the Giants led the Ports in the eighth inning during California League action at Stockton Ballpark.
At press time, San Jose led 6-3 as a crowd of 2,248 fans watched the Ports (42-24) try to complete a four-game sweep of the Giants (32-34). The Ports already clinched the first-half North Division title on Monday, but they were trying to complete the last home stand of the first half with a victory.
During their six-game winning streak over the Giants, the Ports had outscored San Jose by a 41-17 margin including a 6-0 shut out on Wednesday. The Giants’ bats had a combined batting average of must .218 during the six-game span but managed 13 hits against the Ports on Thursday.
Stockton had six hits going into the bottom of the eighth inning against the team that had lost nine of its previous 11 games. Stockton’s current 42 wins equal the most by a Ports team in the first half since 2008 with three games remaining.
The Ports opened the scoring the bottom of the first when outfielder Boog Powell, on a rehab assignment from the Oakland A’s, doubled. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Skye Bolt.
The Giants immediately scored two in the second inning after Ports starter Zack Erwin, who struck out the side in the first inning, allowed three hits and a walk to his first four batters. The 2015 fourth-round draft pick by the Chicago White Sox, who was the prime player acquired in 2016 by Oakland in a trade for Brett Lawrie, is trying to rebound from arthroscopic surgery to his pitching elbow later that year.
Stockton’s William Toffey tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second with a solo home run, his second blast of the season. Powell scored in the third for a 3-2 Ports lead when he drew a walk, advance to third on Bolt’s single, and a dashed home on a wild pitch.
In the four games Powell started during the seven-game homestand, he was a combined 2-for-10 with five walks, four runs scored, one strikeout, an RBI, one stolen base and one caught stealing.
Once again, Erwin couldn’t hold the one-run lead. San Jose reclaimed the lead, 4-3, when its first three batters again roughed up Erwin with three consecutive singles. That, and a sacrifice fly, before Erwin recorded his sixth strikeout and induced a fly out to end the rally.
San Jose threatened in the fifth to extend their lead with runners at the corners and one out. That’s when former Delta College catcher Collin Theroux made a terrific catch – falling backward – near the netting behind home plate. Erwin then got out of the jam by inducing a groundout to shortstop Brallan Perez.
Erwin finished the night allowing four runs on 10 hits, two walks while striking out six over five innings.
After a scoreless inning pitched by newcomer Peter Bayer, via a trade with Tampa Bay, Oakland A’s pitcher Ryan Buchter entered to pitch the seventh. He threw 16 pitches – 11 for strikes – to retire the side with two strikeouts, a fly out and a hit.
The Ports end the first half with three games at Modesto.