Modesto Nuts

Nuts' bats stay quiet in defeat

STOCKON — The Modesto Nuts sulked away from Stockton Ballpark with little to show for their first series of the season.

There was a victory Thursday to ruin the Ports' home opener, but that was followed by a grand total of three runs over the final three games, none of which came in Sunday's 4-0 loss to Stockton.

There was good news. The Nuts' next seven games will be played at John Thurman Field, including tonight's 7:05 home opener against defending California League-champion San Jose.

Ports right-hander Trevor Cahill was the latest arm to shut down the Modesto attack. He allowed two singles over seven innings while striking out five.

"It's early, and we did the same thing last year," Nuts manager Jerry Weinstein said. "We struggled early, and it takes time."

Indeed, the first month of the 2007 season was painful for the Nuts, whose young players took several weeks to adjust to the level of California League pitching. And here are some opening-weekend numbers that would indicate how much adjusting Modesto has ahead.

The Nuts scored six runs on 23 hits -- 19 singles and four doubles.

They struck out 41 times against Ports pitching, against only 10 walks.

Ports starters allowed 13 hits and fanned 26 in 24 innings, notching a 1.13 ERA.

"We hit real well in Tucson, but we ran into some really good pitching here," said Michael Paulk, who had one of the Nuts' three hits Sunday. "It's great to play at home, and maybe we'll start hitting the ball once we get there. It's always good to have the home crowd."

The Nuts' pitching was good in Stockton, but it was constantly put under pressure by the lack of offensive support. Sunday's starter, left-hander Keith Weiser, allowed nine hits in 4 2/3 innings and took the loss, but he was two good pitches from finishing with five shutout innings.

In the first inning, the Ports had two out and a runner on first when Chris Carter tripled to center. Two pitches later, Frank Martinez doubled to left for a quick 2-0 lead.

That was it until the fifth, when Weiser retired the first two batters before allowing two runs on three consecutive hits.

Tommy Baumgartner, David Patton and James Burok came on to get the final 10 outs, allowing only one hit.

The pitching of Modesto's relief corps was a bright spot overall in the series, but the best thing to come out of Sunday's game was the end of the series.

"We get a home opener now," Weinstein said. "Home openers always are exciting, and we like to think we'll play well at home. We have good fans, and that always makes a difference. Some of them were here this weekend, and we hope they keep coming in spite of what they saw here.

"You know, we're good in home openers. ... We've already won one."

To comment, click on the link with this story at www.modbee.com. Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at bvanderbeek@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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