There were more fireworks after Friday night’s Express game than there were in nine innings of play.
Round Rock managed to rack up just three hits in a 1-0 loss to Sacramento River Cats in the rubber match of a three-game series. The Express fall to 30-37 on the season and last place in the American Southern Conference.
“These are the only three games against Sacramento and we don’t know how they’re going to attack us,” Express infielder Tommy Joseph said. “You can read scouting reports, but they might be from other teams. So you really need to bear down and focus. They did a good job of keeping us off balanced.”
Express starter Michael Roth (3-3, 3.25 ERA) took the loss against the team he made 15 appearances for a season ago, allowing three runs on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts.
San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija, an All-Star with the Chicago Cubs in 2014, made his first rehab start and threw 43 pitches over three innings and gave up just one hit with four strikeouts. He also hit a batter and had a balk in the first inning.
“You don’t know what he’s going to work on, he’s got his own agenda,” Joseph said. “It’s not a matter of him being a big league rehab guy, we try to jump on him like we would any other starter.”
The pitchers were in control until the seventh inning when Sacramento outfielder Eury Perez lined a double to center field. Veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan hit a group rule double in the next at-bat to extend the River Cats’ lead to 3-0.
Round Rock didn’t get on the board until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth when a single by Andy Ibanez scored Joseph.
Sacramento won two of three games in the series. The lone Express win came Thursday in extra innings after Nick Noonan’s three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth helped the game to extra innings and Hunter Cole singled in the 10th to give the Express a 6-5 win.
“We put a lot of good at-bats together,” Joseph said. “You would’ve thought everybody in the crowd thought the game was over. It makes us feel good because there are a lot of fans that early and when we win it late, it makes us feel better about it.”
The Express begin a four-game home series against the Fresno Grizzlies — the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros — Saturday at 6:05 p.m. The two team face off Sunday at 1:05 p.m. and again on Monday and Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.
“I’m not too worried about the rivalry thing, it’s a rivalry in the big leagues,” Joseph said. “We’re going to get to know each other. It’ll be interesting to see how they go about their business down here because we all know how they do up there.”