By Thomas Gase
The Vallejo Admirals began a three-game series on Tuesday at Wilson Park with the Pittsburg Diamonds that has been highly touted because former MLB star, Jose Canseco, is on the Diamonds roster.
Unfortunately for Admirals fans, Canseco didn’t play. Even worse, Tyler Nordgren did.
The ex-Admiral hurt his former team by collecting three hits, one of them in the 10th inning as he went on to score the go-ahead run in a 3-2 win over Vallejo.
The Diamonds designated hitter scored the eventual winning run when Thomas Shull hit a fly ball off Admirals reliever Pedro Perez to right fielder Tim Williams with one out. Williams caught it for the second out, but his throw home was a little up the third base line and Nordgren slid just out of reach of Wilfredo Petit’s glove and tag.
Although Canseco didn’t play due to sore knee, it was announced he will play Wednesday and Thursday and he will be the starting pitcher on Wednesday.
“I took a cortisone shot to see how it feels but I’m going to sit today,” Canseco said prior to Tuesday’s first pitch. “It’s been great to come here and play for Pittsburg and see a lot of my friends in the Bay Area. We also did a charity golf tournament and it was great to help out kids with that.”
Canseco, the 1988 MVP and owner of 462 career home runs, signed autographs and took pictures with fans at Wilson Park. The former Oakland A’s star said that playing with Pittsburg so far this month has been “a whole lot of fun.”
“The most difficult part about coming back is getting into baseball shape,” Canseco said. “The easiest part is knowing what to do on the field”
Canseco left Wilson Park around the sixth inning and up to that point the Admirals had a firm grasp on the game. They scored first in the bottom of the second off Pittsburg starter Dylan Brammer when Joseph Hicks reached on an infield single and later scored with two outs on a bloop single to right by Petit.
“I had two balls and no strikes at that point,” Petit said through his interpreter and Admirals pitcher Mario Mendoza. “I knew I had to be patient and wait for my pitch. I got my pitch and I did what I could to help us get a run in the inning.”
The Admirals (25-36, 10-12 in the second half) scored again to make it 2-0 in the bottom of the third on a walk by Alian Silva, a single by Darian Sandford and then a RBI single by P.J. Phillips.
Admirals starter Brent Adheen pitched well for six innings, giving up no runs and just two hits.
“He did a good job tonight and his change-up was great,” Petit said about Adheen. “He attacked the strike zone and got ahead of batters. He had good control, good command.”
In the seventh, however, the Diamonds finally got to Adheen when Jordan Hinshaw doubled down the right field line and then scored when John Contreras doubled off the wall in left field to make it 2-1.
A few moments later the Diamonds (27-34, 8-14 in the second half) tied the game at 2-2 when Nordgren singled up the middle with two outs to drive home Contreras. Adheen came out after the seventh inning, giving up two runs on five hits.
The Admirals had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, as Tim Williams led off the frame with a single to left. With two outs and Williams at third, Aaron Brill hit a hard ground ball, but right at Diamonds first baseman Contreras for the third out.
In the top of the 10th Pittsburg took a 3-2 lead when Nordgren singled and then went to third on a double by David Kiriokos. With one out, Shull knocked in Nordgren with the eventual winning run.
The Admirals rallied in the bottom half of the 10th, but it seemed to die just as soon as it began. Silva led off with a single and then with one out, Sandford then had an infield single. When the throw got away from Contreras, Sandford raced to second, but Silva was caught take too wide of a turn at third and was eventually tagged out in a rundown. One batter later the game was over when Pittsburg relief pitcher Garrett Granitz struck out Phillips.
“For us to win the series, we need to do a better job of attacking more earlier in the game,” Petit said. “We need more runs to help our starting pitcher and so we can feel more comfortable later in the game.”
Notes: Sandford had three hits and three steals, upping his season total to 55. … Admirals reliever Justin Hertzmann is out for the season with a torn rotator cuff. He may serve as a coach for the rest of the season while rehabbing the injury, but the Admirals gave thanks to him near the end of the game over the public address system.