Modesto Nuts

Nuts win again on final swing

Daniel Mayora doubled in his first at-bat of the 2008 season, but when he came to the plate to lead off the 10th inning Tuesday night, that hit probably seemed like it came a year ago -- not just last Thursday.

He met briefly with manager Jerry Weinstein, then strolled to the plate and promptly drilled an off-field triple to the right-field fence on the first pitch thrown by San Jose reliever Mike Musgrave. When Jay Cox followed with a single to right, the Nuts celebrated a 1-0 victory at John Thurman Field.

"I was looking for the fastball on the first pitch after watching the pitcher in the bullpen," Mayora said. "He was throwing fastballs -- no breaking balls. Then, Jerry came up to me and asked if I remembered in spring training, how I stayed closed and kept my head closed and hit the ball to right field."

Mayora's second hit of the season was one that might have carried over the fence in right under summer conditions. But the scoreboard temperature read 51 degrees, with a stiff, cold breeze blowing out to left.

Still, Mayora's ball was hit hard enough to easily clear the reach of right fielder Bobby Felmy and carom off the base of the wall, allowing the speedy Mayora to scoot all the way to third.

Cox then worked a full count before turning on an inside fastball and bouncing it into right field for the game-winner.

The victory in the final at-bat was Modesto's second in as many home games and again came after some spectacular pitching.

Nuts starter Esmil Rogers allowed five hits, no walks and struck out eight in seven innings of work. David Patton allowed one hit in two innings, and Andrew Johnston (2-0) worked a perfect 10th to notch the win for the second consecutive night.

The San Jose staff was up to the challenge. Clayton Tanner allowed two singles and whiffed nine in six innings, and Dan Griffin gave up one hit in three innings before Musgrave took over to start the 10th.

The cold evening and a generous strike zone helped keep the bats silent. The two staffs combined to strike out 23 batters, and the 12 absorbed by Modesto hitters boosted their total to 66 through six games.

"It is freezing out there," Cox said. "It's early and you have to adjust to the umpires, too. We just need to attack the ball earlier in the count. We're getting good pitches early in the count and we're just taking them.

"We shouldn't be getting to two strikes and giving the umpires a chance to dictate our at-bat."

Mayora certainly was thinking that way in the 10th, when he was looking for a first-pitch fastball and got it.

"He was getting away from the approach that made him successful all spring," said Weinstein. "The only thing I said to him was to remember the five or so triples he hit in spring training, and they all went to the gap in right-center. I told him to think about right field, keep your head in there and remember what you did in spring training."