Portland won 6-4
Outfielder Jack Cust, playing in his first game as a member of the Padres’ organization went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI’s. Cust played for the Sacramento River Cats last year, swatting 19 homers in 134 games.
Tim Stauffer had the opening day nod and went five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, serving up a homer. Dating back to last year, Stauffer has yielded four runs or more in seven of his last eight starts with the Beavers.
After going 2-0 last year for Mobile, Ryan Meaux notched the win, pitching an inning of scoreless ball. Meaux ended last year by tossing scoreless ball over his last seven outings, a span of 8.1 innings. He has earned the win in three of his last seven appearances.
Dustin Delucchi has a right ankle sprain and will begin the year on the disabled list. Portland was facing a roster decision had Delucchi started the year on the opening day roster.
Infield instructor Tony Franklin is in Portland for two weeks specifically to work with Paul McAnulty. McAnulty will see time at third base this year and Franklin is expected to work with him each day on his fielding. On Thursday, McAnulty played first base.
Mobile won 5-2
Michael Johnson strained a hamstring rounding second base in the fifth inning and was pulled from the game. He is definitely out of the lineup on Friday and will be reassessed and remains day-to-day.
Cesar Carrillo went four innings and gave up one run on three hits and four walks before he was pulled. The right-hander walked four or more in a game twice last year, on September 5 with Lake Elsinore when five reached base via the free pass and August 5 with Mobile. In Southern League play, Carrillo has allowed three runs or less in five straight starts.
Kennard Jones went 1-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored. Scoring three runs in one game is a feat he did not accomplish last year and you have to go back to August 18, 2004 to find a game where he crossed the plate three times. Jones also added a stolen base. He entered the year with 57 steals under his belt but has been caught 47 times over his career.
Lake Elsinore lost 3-2
Mike Ekstrom pitched on his second straight opening day – last year with the Fort Wayne Wizards.
“We got no-hit over seven that game so it was kind of déjà vu,” Ekstrom explained. “It is cool (to pitch opening day). It gets the nerves out of the way real quick since you don’t have to sit in the stands and wait for your starts.”
On April 7, 2005, Ekstrom pitched a one-hitter over six innings and earned a no-decision. He allowed two runs or less in ten of his first 11 starts in Midwest league play. On Thursday, Ekstrom pitched five innings, yielding one run on seven hits without a walk while striking out six.
“The first inning was going good,” Ekstrom said. “The crowd was pumped up and I was feeling good.”
Ekstrom was on a 70-pitch count and tossed 71 pitches. He threw first pitch strikes to 14 of the 20 batters he faced and ended the day with 51 strikes thrown to 21 balls. He did allow seven hits within a ten-batter span, but only one run crossed the plate.
“Ek did a nice job,” Storm manager Rick Renteria said. “You can tell he has some quality pitches.
Peter Ciofrone opened up the year as the starting left fielder for the Lake Elsinore Storm. Ciofrone did not log a single game in the outfield last season. Ciofrone notched the first hit of the game and the season for Lake Elsinore, a double, with two outs in the sixth.
Jeremy Cleveland notched an outfield assist in the third inning after taking a shot off the wall with his bare hand and launching a bullet to nail Rusty Ryal at second base. An inning later, Cleveland mistimed his jump on a ball hit to the wall by Carlos Gonzalez, costing a double and the first run of the game.
Cleveland got the run back in the bottom of the eighth with a single to drive in Tim Brown.
Chris Jaile made his farm system debut. The former catcher struck out two of the three batters he faced in his first inning of work and retired all six batters he faced. Jaile threw 23 pitches along the way.
Sean Kazmar was pulled from the game but not because of injury. The reason he was removed is unknown.
Fort Wayne won 5-3
Kyle Blanks began the 2006 season in a fashion similar to 2005. He launched two homers and knocked in three runs to begin his career in the Midwest League. Blanks homered and drove in six runs in his first game with Peoria of the Arizona Rookie League last year and went on to hit seven homers in his first 14 games there.
Daryl Jones doubled and homered, notching a solo shot on the front half of a back-to-back with Blanks. Jones managed to hit just one homer in his first 25 games with Eugene of the Northwest League in 2005. In 255 at bats, Jones had 12 extra base hits with the Emeralds. He is one-sixth of the way to that number this year.
Steve Delabar allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits over five innings of play but took a no-decision. The right-hander allowed just four runs over his first five starts of the season in 2005 while playing for the Emeralds.