The Vancouver Canadians saw their first-half playoff hopes go officially up in smoke after being swept at home in five straight games against the Eugene Emeralds. They saw their misfortunes continue into the second half with a three-game sweep in Everett, extending their overall losing skid to nine games. The C’s held leads in the first two games against the AquaSox with 3-1 and 4-3 advantages in the series opener only to lose 7-4, but the most painful setback was the middle game of the set in which the visitors held a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth before Everett rallied for the win in a morning/afternoon affair. T.J. Zeuch provided three shutout innings in the series closer but the C’s would lose 6-1.
Already, Vancouver’s playoff hopes in the second half took a big hit by getting swept by a North Division rival. With another divisional opponent next on the schedule in the Tri-City Dust Devils, the C’s desperately needed a series win if not a sweep to remain relevant in the playoff chase.
The C’s gave the ball to Dalton Rodriguez in this one and he was looking to redeem himself after a rough outing against Eugene. He retired the leadoff hitter but wound up loading the bases on two singles and a walk and just when it was looking like deja vu all over again, Rodriguez bounced back by ringing up Chris Mattison on a 95-MPH fastball before getting a tapper back to the mound off the bat of Nate Easley to keep the Dust Devils off the board.
On the mound for Tri-City was 2013 Blue Jays draft pick Eric Lauer, who turned down a $1-million signing bonus to attend Kent State University. After being drafted in the 17th round three years ago, the Ohio lefty was selected 25th overall by the San Diego Padres in this year’s draft for $2-million.
Lauer pitched three shutout innings, surrendering just a walk and a single to Joshua Palacios and a single to Josh Reavis. He struck out a pair and was around 94 with his fastball.
Rodriguez dodged more trouble in the second inning when Reavis threw out Aldemar Burgos trying to steal second after a base hit. I thought Burgos was safe but the base umpire disagreed. In the third inning, Rodriguez got away with two walks and a Buddy Reed stolen base by ringing up Chris Baker and Mattison, the latter on a 91-MPH heater.
Tri-City would get to Rodriguez for a run in the fourth on three singles, capped off by a Josh Magee RBI base hit, but Jacob Anderson started a 7-6-5 play to cut down Burgos at third. Rodriguez struck out two batters, including Reed, on an 84 MPH offering to end the inning. That would be it for Roadhouse as he managed to mostly get away with seven hits and three walks, offset by six K’s and four groundouts.
Stuart Holmes was summoned from the pen and was looking build on a strong five-inning relief outing. He got the first two batters, including a called strikeout on a fastball at 90 MPH. However, a Mattison single, an Easley triple and a Burgos base hit increased Tri-City’s lead to 3-0. However, Burgos’ basepaths adventured continued when Reavis threw him out trying to swipe second for a second time.
Vancouver climbed back into the game thanks to two Dust Devils error when Bryan Lizardo reached on a Baker error at short and, after a Yeltsin Gudino base hit, an Easley error at second on a grounder by Reavis scored Lizardo with the C’s first run. Gudino was thrown out at third to commit the cardinal sin of being the first out at third base. However, with the team’s inability to score runs, Gudino could not be blamed for trying to make something happen.
Holmes kept Tri-City off the board in the seventh by overcoming a Jose Savinon single and a sacrifice bunt by Magee in which Reavis made a nice play to get to the ball on the first base line and retire Magee. Holmes would end the inning by catching Reed looking at a 92-MPH fastball.
The C’s crept closer in the sixth on a Lizardo fielder’s choice that scored an Anderson fielder’s choice. They grabbed the lead in the seventh when Rodrigo Orozco walked and made it to third on a Palacios base hit and a Burgos error in left. With two runners in scoring position, Northwest League All-Star Cavan Biggio delivered a double against Dust Devils reliever Nick Monroe.
Nick Hartman entered the game in the seventh and retired Tri-City in order, ending with a swinging strikeout of Mattison on an off-speed pitch clocked at 84. Hartman gave up a leadoff hit to Easley in the eighth but got help from Burgos (what a rough night he had!) when he popped up a bunt in foul territory to Lizardo. Savinon would move Easley to second with a base hit but Hartman managed to induce a 6-3 double play to end the threat.
Griffin Glaude got the first two men he faced in the ninth, getting Buddy Reed to chase a pitch at 85 MPH but could not put away Baker, who delivered a single with two strikes. Glaude would get Kyle Overstreet to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game and give the C’s a 4-3 victory.
Biggio and Palacios had two-hit efforts with Palacios walking and stealing a base. Vancouver won this one despite going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and leaving eight men on base. They were outhit 14-7 but also outerrored 3-0.
Also, Northwest League All-Star Javier Hernandez was the starting DH but gave way to Deiferson Barreto, who went 1-for-3. Hernandez grounded out in his only at-bat.
Radar Gun Rundown
Rodriguez ranged from 79-95 MPH, Hartman clocked in from 84-93 and Glaude came in at 75-92.
With a nine-game losing streak mercifully snapped, the C’s gave the ball to Northwest League All-Star Patrick Murphy for the second game of this series but things did not start off well. A single, a wild pitch and two more singles produced a first-inning run for Tri-City. A double that bounded over the head of third baseman Bryan Lizardo into left, a groundout and a two-out wild pitch led to another Dust Devils score in the second.
Another Blue Jays connection started this game for Tri-City in the form of Hansel (“He’s so hot right now!”) Rodriguez. With the obligatory Zoolander reference out of the way, Rodriguez was traded by the Jays to San Diego for outfielder Melvin Upton Jr.
Rodriguez rung up J.B. Woodman to strand a Cavan Biggio walk and stolen base to end the first before overcoming a Nash Knight base hit to right in his first Vancouver at-bat with a double play to help him out in the second. Knight was called up from Bluefield after hitting .402 in 97 at-bats with the Bluef-Jays. He got into town Friday but did not play in that game.
Rodriguez stranded a Josh Reavis walk in the third and got another double play ball after a Joshua Palacios single and stolen base and a J.B. Woodman base on balls to end the fourth. H-Rod finished up with a 1-2-3 fifth before exiting. His velocity ranged from 82-83 and 90-92 MPH.
As for Murphy, he had settled down by retiring 11 of 12 Dust Devils at one point but he would be chased from the game in the sixth when a single, a stolen base and another single made it 3-0 Tri-City. Lefty Evan Smith came in and struck out Aldemar Burgos to strand a pair of runners.
Vancouver looked like they were going to get back into the game when Reavis, Rodrigo Orozco and Palacios all drew walks to start the sixth. However, Dust Devils reliever Nathan Foriest bounced back by getting Biggio and Woodman to strikeout and Knight to ground out.
To add to the C’s woes, the Dust Devils would get to Smith for a run in the seventh on a Taylor Kohlwey single and a stolen base, a Reavis throwing error and a Chris Baker run-scoring base hit. Smith ended the inning with a strikeout of G.K. Young on a pitch that registered at 83 MPH.
Dalton Erb entered the game for Tri-City and he issued a free pass to Christian Williams to start the seventh. Lizardo then singled and Yeltsin Gudino walked to load up the bases. Reavis could not bring in a run as he flied out but Orozco did as his fly ball was deep enough to bring in Williams with the C’s first run. A Palacios single and an error in right brought in Lizardo and Gudino and all of a sudden, Vancouver was within a run. Biggio kept the inning going with a walk but Woodman whiffed to end the rally.
Smith racked up his third K of the evening in a clean eighth but the C’s did nothing in the bottom half. Smith put up another zero in the ninth after an inning-ending double play to keep the C’s to within a run. Reavis battled Tri-City reliever Evan Miller, who whiffed Woodman to end the eighth, in a 10-pitch at-bat and worked a leadoff walk before giving way to pinch-runner D.J. McKnight, who proceeded to steal second for his first swipe of the year. McKnight got to third when Orozco reached on an error at short and would score on a Palacios ground ball to second to tie the game at 4-4. Biggio had a chance to be the offensive hero with the bat for a second straight night but he grounded out to push Orozco to third. Woodman kept things going with a walk and would steal second with Orozco holding at third. Knight then hit a grounder to third but Boomer White mishandled it to allow Orozco to race home with the winning run to give Vancouver a 5-4 victory.
Radar Gun Rundown
Patrick Murphy reached 96 MPH on the gun with a strikeout of Luis Asuncion and hit 79 on the low end. Evan Smith topped out at 91.
Despite hitting just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, despite leaving 10 men on base and despite being outhit 10-4, Vancouver found a way to win this one. What didn’t help Tri-City was three errors and 12 walks.
Palacios had two hits, a walk and a stolen base while Biggio and Woodman had two walks and a stolen base apiece. Reavis had three walks to tie Palacios for the on-base lead.
If anything else, you have to admire the C’s for not giving up in this one. When they had the bases loaded with nobody out in the sixth and couldn’t score, it looked like there was no way they were coming back.
The last time I remember the Canadians blowing a 3-on, 0-out opportunity and still coming back to win was Game 1 of the 2012 Northwest League finals when the C’s rallied to beat the Boise Hawks 10-7. In that game, the C’s loaded up the bags in the fourth but the Hawks struck out the side when it was just a 2-1 game. Boise took advantage of their bases loaded, nobody out opportunity with three runs in the top of the fifth and eventually led 7-1 before the comeback of all time. If not for that comeback, Boise could have won it all as they took Game 2 before Vancouver bounced back in Game 3.
The C’s scored first this time around when J.B. Woodman doubled and scored on a Jacob Anderson two-bagger in the fourth inning before Nash Knight knocked home Anderson with a base hit. Knight scored an insurance run on a wild pitch after reaching base on an error.
Luis Sanchez got his first win of the year with 5-2/3 innings of one-run ball. Geno Encina stranded a runner for Sanchez and survived three base hits with 1-1/3 innings of shutout relief, including two K’s. Zach Jackson overcame a pair of two-out singles to finish the eighth and Griffin Glaude struck out the first two hitters in the ninth before a double and a catcher’s interfence by Javier Hernandez put the tying runs on base. Glaude was able to get a groundout to end the game and garner his second save in a 3-1 victory.
After striking out nobody in his previous start of 5-1/3 innings against Eugene, Sanchez struck out five Dust Devils while giving up just four hits and two walks to lower his ERA to a respectable 3.28.
Tri-City outhit Vancouver again but only by a 10-7 count but they made two errors, one more than the C’s.
The C’s hope their luck against the Eugene Emeralds turns in Oregon as they resume their second-half schedule for a five-game set against the Em’s. T.J. Zeuch, Dalton Rodriguez, Denis Diaz, Mike Ellenbest and Luis Sanchez are listed as the probable starters. All games can be heard at CanadiansBaseball.com and if you have a MiLB.com TV subscription, you can watch them too. All games are at 7:05 pm PT except for Sunday, which is slated for a 5:01 pm first pitch.
The Canadians will return home for a three-game series against Everett. With six games left on the schedule versus the Frogs, Vancouver will need to win five out of six to get a tie-breaker edge as Everett is in first place in the North Division at 5-1, two games ahead (really three ahead) of 3-3 Vancouver. Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games at the Nat are at 7:05 pm and Thursday’s begins at 1:05.
Finally, a belated congratulations to Cavan Biggio, Javier Hernandez and Patrick Murphy for being named Northwest League All-Stars. Biggio went 2-for-3 with a two-run triple, Murphy was the winning pitcher and Hernandez caught the final three innings of the NWL’s 11-5 win over the Pioneer League in Ogden, Utah.