After a disappointing 3-5 road trip in Boise and Spokane, the Vancouver Canadians ended the first half of the Northwest League season with a resounding thud, getting swept by the Chicago Cub affiliate Eugene Emeralds in five straight games at Nat Bailey Stadium. For Vancouver, this was the baseball version of the Saw horror movies.
Thursday, July 21
The C’s may have been hoping Eugene would have taken the foot off the gas after the Em’s clinched the first-half South Division title at home the night before against the Hillsboro Hops.
Those hopes were quickly dashed with a bat-around first inning, resulting in four runs off Nate Abel who was making his home debut with the C’s. Down 6-1 and 8-4, the Canadians tried to rally as they loaded the bases in the ninth. Cavan Biggio grinded out a bases-loaded walk to bring Vancouver to within a run. Lance Jones, who was rung up on a questionable strike three call in the 8th, went down swinging to end the game but batter interference nullified pinch-runner Joshua Palacios from scoring the tying run as Eugene held on for the 8-7 win.
Friday, July 22
2016 Blue Jays first-round pick T.J. Zeuch made his debut on Canadian soil in this Nooner at the Nat. The big righty was originally slated to go in the series opener before being pushed back a day. He took a liner off the arm in the first inning but he shook it off, tossing three shutout innings in which he gave up two hits and a walk, striking out three.
Zeuch had better luck fielding his position in the third when he got an out on a sacrifice bunt that moved a runner to second. He then handled a tapper back to the mound and threw it over to third base to cut down the runner.
Zeuch’s velocity was around 87-95 MPH. His delivery makes it seem like he is dropping the hammer down on you from way up high. ProspectJunkies.com has this story to better describe his delivery.
As good as Zeuch was, Geno Encina was even better stats-wise. Though he topped out at 90 MPH, Encina blanked the Em’s for three frames, giving up just one hit and also whiffing three.
Vancouver finally scored first in the sixth when Deiferson Barreto, replacing Christian Williams at first base after Williams flied out to end the second inning, singled home a pair of runs to spark a four-run rally.
Eugene would battle back from 4-0 and 5-2 deficits to tie it up in the ninth when Jackson McClelland could not close the door. Griffin Glaude gave up two runs and Evan Smith was charged with the other three.
The C’s had a golden opportunity to win it in the 10th as Bryan Lizardo led off with a triple. However, Barreto popped up and Rodrigo Orozco hit into an inning-ending double play after Yeltsin Gudino was intentionally walked.
The Emeralds then scored three runs off Nick Hartman in the 11th for the 8-5 win.
Saturday, July 23
If you were late arriving at the park, like yours truly was, the game was pretty much over. It was 6-0 when I entered and it was 9-0 when Tyler Payne (pain don’t hurt?) roadhoused Dalton Rodriguez for a three-run homer in the second inning. Stuart Holmes soaked up five innings in relief, surrendering just one run. Matthew Smoral saw his struggles continue when two hits and two walks produced another run in 1-1/3 innings. Travis Bergen worked a 1-2-3 ninth in his return from an elbow injury that ended his year in Vancouver last season.
J.B. Woodman was the shining light on offence with a perfect night at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double, two walks and a run batted in. Yeltsin Gudino had a couple of knocks but the C’s were mollywhopped 11-4.
Not-so-fun fact: This game may have been the first time the C’s wore their batting practice caps (black with a red bill) during a home game. They may never wear them again for a game after this debacle. Correction – they did wear these caps during a game July 3, 2014 so never mind!
Sunday, July 24
Things began promisingly enough when Deiferson Barreto kept one fair down the left field line for a home run in the third inning and Patrick Murphy had a no-hitter going over 4-2/3 innings. Eugene would get to Murphy for a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth to take their first lead. Vancouver tied it at 2-2 when J.B. Woodman singled to cash in a Rodrigo Orozco leadoff walk and stolen base in the sixth.
Zach Jackson got through the seventh in his B.C. debut but the Emeralds got to him for three runs in the eighth. He has an interesting delivery to say the least. The Jays’ 3rd round pick really tilts his body back before sending his momentum to the plate. He threw around 84-92 MPH on this day. More on his delivery can be found right here.
Nick Hartman stranded two runners for Jackson and pitched 1-2/3 shutout innings with one K.
Though Woodman doubled home a Cavan Biggio hit-by-pitch in Vancouver’s half of the eighth, the C’s would lose this one 5-3.
Of note, outfielder Michael Foster of Pickering, Ontario made his pro debut on the mound for the Emeralds in the eighth.
Monday, July 25
The San Diego Chicken was in the house and the last time he was in Vancouver, the C’s blanked the Emeralds 8-0 last year. It looked like history was repeating itself as Vancouver had a 5-0 lead after five and a 6-2 lead after six. Joshua Palacios singled home the first run to jump-start a three-run rally in the third with the Famous Chicken replacing Dave Pano in the first base coach’s box. A Deiferson Barreto bunt single and a Jacob Anderson double brought in the other runs. In the fifth, Christian Williams knocked home a run with a base hit and Bryan Lizardo walked with the bases drunk to put the C’s up by five. Anderson singled home another run to cushion their lead in the sixth.
Luis Sanchez, save for one walk, put the ball in play against everyone and it helped him get through 5-1/3 innings. He left two runners on for Evan Smith and he could not strand either of them. Smith was slapped around for three runs (two earned) and Griffin Glaude gave up the tying run in the eighth. Jackson McClelland, who uses the excellent Phil Collins track In The Air Tonight for his mound music, struck out a trio of Emeralds in two shutout innings. However, the Em’s handed Nate Abel, the next day’s presumed starting pitcher, his second loss of the season by scoring in the 12th for a 7-6 win.
The C’s loaded the bases in the 12th but Barreto flied out to end the game. It was a sloppy contest all around as Vancouver committed five errors while Eugene had two.
Vancouver begins the second half of the season tonight in Everett after going 16-22 in the first half, three games behind first-half division winner Spokane. Andy Ravel gets the call tonight and T.J. Zeuch will start the finale. A starter has not been announced for the middle game, which starts at 11:05 am. The other two games are 7:05 pm and they can be heard at CanadiansBaseball.com.