The Lake Elsinore Storm beat the Inland Empire 66ers 5-4 Saturday night to improve to 18-12, but the victory takes a backseat in the big picture to the rehab assignments of Casey Kelly and Carlos Quentin. Kelly pitched in his first actual game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April, and Quentin was on the field for the first time since hitting the DL with a fouled-up left knee right before this season began.
Quentin was in the starting lineup and got three at-bats before being replaced in left field by Luis Domoromo in the middle of the fifth inning. Q was hitless in those three at-bats, striking out once. His greatest contribution came after the game; as is customary whenever a major league player is down on the farm rehabbing, Quentin treated the team to an all-out ballin' meal of steak, chicken, and ribs.
Kelly didn't stay in the game as long as Quentin, but he did stick around for three and two-thirds innings, throwing 58 pitches. 44 of those were strikes, and five of those were third strikes. None of the 14 balls he threw were the fourth to any particular batter, and I feel like I could have saved a lot of time by just saying that he had five strikeouts and no walks. Kelly gave up a pair of runs, both earned, on six 66ers hits.
Cameos aside, the regular Storm players took care of business as usual while notching the eighth win out of their last nine games. Dick Enberg would take delight in the fact that they hit for the team cycle. Gabriel Quintana, Diego Goris, and Luis Tejada doubled; last year's first-round pick Hunter Renfroe hit his first triple of the year, and Goris hit a three-run shot for his third homer.
Matthew Shepherd earned his first win after pitching one and a third scoreless innings in immediate relief of Kelly. Bryce Morrow gave Inland Empire a pair of runs in the sixth inning, but Brandon Alger and Trevor Gott shut the door on the 66ers. Alger pitched two hitless innings, walking one batter and striking out three. Gott allowed a leadoff single in the ninth inning to put Inland Empire's tying run on base, but struck out the next three batters for his eighth save.
The Storm and 66ers will face off for the rubber match of the three-game set Sunday afternoon at 2:30 PDT. One would expect to see Quentin back in the starting lineup, perhaps even lasting through the sixth inning this time, but maybe getting back to midseason form includes taking Sunday off.