There was a sellout crowd at John Thurman Field Saturday night for Breast Cancer Awareness Night – 4,097 fans hoping for a cure and staying around through extra innings for fireworks.
And in the Modesto Nuts’ dugout was a group of players trying to cure their team-wide woes, dreaming of an offense that someday will produce fireworks.
Both groups will continue to hope for the future. On the baseball side of that equation, Modesto remained silent on offense, handing the Stockton Ports a 2-0 decision in 10 innings.
Both Ports’ runs scored on bases-loaded walks as the Nuts dropped their fifth consecutive game and eighth in nine games.
Modesto is 10-27 (.270), a record not only represents far and away its worst start in 10 seasons as a Colorado affiliate, but puts it on pace to post the worst record for a half-season in the city’s 68 seasons of California League baseball.
Right now, that dubious record is held by the 2001 Modesto A’s, who went 23-47 (.323) in the first half of a very long season under manager Greg Sparks, now the hitting coach for the Sacramento RiverCats.
The Nuts had a great chance to steal the win in the ninth inning, putting two aboard with one out. Derek Jones lined a sharp single to right, where Dusty Robinson fielded the ball on one hop and fired a strike home.
That’s where catcher Bruce Maxwell was waiting to apply a swipe tag to Matt Wessinger, and when Sam Mende struck out the game was sent to the 10th.
That’s when the Nuts handed the Ports the victory. Peter Tago, the fourth Modesto pitcher, walked Aaron Shipman to open the frame, and Daniel Robertson followed with a bloop single to center.
A wild pitch moved the runners up, and after an infield out kept the runners in their places, Tago intentionally walked Matt Olson to load the bases.
That strategy backfired when Tago walked Ryan Healy on a 3-1 pitch that missed badly high and wide, gift-wrapping the Ports’ first run. He did the same to Maxwell to force home the second run with the 10th walk of the game issued but Nuts’ pitchers.
Nate Striz entered to force an inning-ending double play, but the charity had been awarded.
Even after that letdown, the Nuts showed some spark in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with one out on singles by Francisco Sosa and Chris O’Dowd wrapped around a walk to David Kandilas.
But Ports’ righty Tucker Healy whiffed Trevor Story and pinch-hitter Jordan Ribera to end the game.
The anticlimactic ending overshadowed a second straight outstanding start by Modesto’s Devin Burke, who seems to be making a run at the vacant post of staff ace.
He was the winning pitcher in Monday’s victory at San Jose, allowing one one while notching a career-high nine strikeouts in 51/3 innings. He followed that up with five innings of two-hit shutout pitching against the Ports.
Alving Mejias followed with two scoreless innings and Rayan Gonzalez pitched the eighth to deliver the 0-0 tie to the ninth.