After watching the Toronto Blue Jays suffer an agonizing 19-inning loss to Cleveland at The Dome on Canada Day, I was wondering what to expect from the Vancouver Canadians after returning home from a three-game sweep by Tri-City. That series finale was painful as Vancouver could not hold a 3-1 lead in the ninth, suffering a walk-off loss.
The game did not get off to a great start as C’s starter Luis Sanchez walked the first two hitters and was a ball away from walking the bases loaded. Pitching coach Willie Collazo paid a visit to the mound and Sanchez bounced back by retiring the next three hitters in a row.
Sanchez had settled down by retiring eight hitters in a row but he gave up hard-hit balls to center field and first base before surrendering a two-out double in the third inning. Despite a wild pitch to move the runner to third, Sanchez induced a grounder to first to end the frame.
Spokane starter Nick Green came out gunning as his fastball registered at 95-96 miles per hour. He got through the first two innings and was on the end of a 2-6-3-6-1 pickoff of Lance Jones to erase a leadoff walk in the second. However, the C’s handed Green a loss in the finale of the season-opening series in Spokane and they got to him again when Cavan Biggio delivered a two-out, two-run double to open the scoring in the third.
Sanchez would pitch into the fifth inning but finished an out shy of qualifying for the victory after giving up two singles. Lefthander Grayson Huffman came in to face left-handed hitting Seth Spivey, Spokane’s number-three hitter. Huffman uncorked a wild pitch but he stranded the runners after getting Spivey to foul out to Mattingly Romanin, who ran a long way from second base to chase down a foul flare down the right field side.
The C’s would rally again three innings later when Jones and Christian Williams were hit by Green pitches before D.J. McKnight walked to load the bases. Green was pulled from the game for reliever Alex Daniele and he hit Andres Sotillo with a pitch to make it 3-0 Canadians.
Romanin came up to the plate and the Burlington, Ontario native belted his first professional home run to the left field porch to put the C’s up by seven. It was clear sailing from there as Huffman pitched 2-1/3 innings of one-hit ball with three strikeouts to earn the win. Stuart Holmes sure locked down things in the eighth with a perfect frame and Jackson Lowery overcame a double, a wild pitch and a walk to complete the five-hit shutout of Spokane.
Radar gun readings had Sanchez around 92 MPH while Huffman settled in at 93-94 and touching 97 and Lowery was up to 95, hovering around 92-93 with his heater.
The 7-0 win improves the C’s record to 8-7, two games back of Tri-City and one behind Everett in the Northwest League North Division.