Jose Mesa was due for a poor game. The Gulls right-handed pitcher was 4-0--the best start of his five-year professional career--before Friday’s game against the Modesto A’s at Ventura College.
Mesa was signed at 16 out of the Dominican Republic by the Toronto Blue Jays and, until this season, had been beset by control problems. High pitches have kept Mesa, 20, in the low minors.
Tyler Brilinski found a chest-high Mesa fastball to his liking with two runners aboard in the first inning and drove it over the right-field fence. That blast, and three more homers by the A’s, enabled Modesto to defeat the Gulls, 8-2.
Mesa was replaced with two on and none out in the fourth after having thrown 77 pitches. The 6-3, 170-pounder walked six and struck out three.
“Jose had no rhythm and his control wasn’t good,” Gulls Manager Glenn Ezell said. “He was up with everything. I’m not too worried, though. Generally, he’s been pitching very well.”
Mesa had walked just 12 in 31 innings before Friday. Last season at Kinston of the Class-A Carolina League, he walked 79 in 107 innings and had an earned-run average of 6.16.
Despite Mesa’s control difficulties, Modesto Manager Tommie Reynolds was impressed.
“He had good stuff but got behind on hitters,” Reynolds said.
Brilinski, who leads the league with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs, hit another home run off Zac Paris in the eighth. Paris also gave up solo homers to Steve Howard and Mike Duncan.
The Gulls scored twice in the sixth when Modesto starter Bruce Walton (4-0) began to tire. A single by Domingo Martinez scored Mike Jones, who had doubled, with the first run and Martinez scored on a sacrifice fly by Ken Kinnard.
The Gulls, who have the league’s second highest team batting average at .277, had 11 hits, but stranded nine runners.
With two outs in the fifth, Sandy Guerrero followed Omar Malave’s single with a looping double down the left-field line. A line drive by Eric Yelding was knocked down by Walton, who threw out the Gulls shortstop to end the threat.
Guerrero and Yelding led off the seventh with singles, but Mike Jones struck out and, following a walk to Rob Ducey, Martinez grounded into a double play.
Modesto slugger Tyler Brilinski was signed as a free agent in 1985 out of Grand Canyon College. Brilinski, a 6-2, 190-pound left-hander, was not drafted because of a rotator cuff injury his senior year. He has since converted from the outfield to first base. . . . The loss was the fourth straight for the Gulls, who dropped three straight in Palm Springs earlier in the week. . . . Modesto (19-7) has taken a sizable lead in the Northern Division. . . . Gulls shortstop Eric Yelding had seven assists, a season high. . . . Former Dodgers pitcher Steve Howe, now of the San Jose Bees, has walked only one batter in 21 innings. Howe has struck out 17 and has an ERA of 1.29. . . . Joe Xavier of the A’s is the California League’s leading hitter with a .353 average. Xavier walked four times Friday. . . . Rob Ducey of the Gulls, who at one time led the league with 19 RBIs, hasn’t driven in a run since he had six RBIs in a doubleheader April 23 against Fresno. . . . Todd Stottlemyre (4-2) of the Gulls faces Bob Sharpnack (1-1) today at 4 p.m.