The Vancouver Canadians host the Everett AquaSox for the final time in the 2016 regular season. The C’s hope their luck turns around against teams that begin with E after losing four of five in Eugene. That represented an improvement over the C’s first series against the Emeralds which resulted in a five-game sweep in Vancouver.
Before looking ahead to this week’s series, here is a look back on the final two games of the three-game set between the C’s and Frogs at the Nat. The horror of Opening Night can be relived here.
The C’s got their first home victory of 2016 by holding off Everett 6-5.
Cavan Biggio lined the second pitch of the game up the middle for his first professional base hit.
It took 10 innings but Rodrigo Orozco drove in the first run of the season at home with a bases-loaded walk in the second. That walk brought in D.J. McKnight, whose leadoff single sparked the four-run second inning.
Everett left fielder Austin Grebeck – son of former Blue Jay Craig Grebeck – made a nice running catch on a deep fly ball from Jacob Anderson to end the third inning.
Luis Sanchez had a fastball that registered 90-93 miles per hour with offspeed offerings in the low 80’s. He did a nice job fielding his position by snaring a comeback to end the first and he flawlessly handled a sacrifice bunt and another tapper back to the mound to help limit the damage of a three-run fourth inning by Everett.
Winning pitcher Dan Lietz reached 92 on the gun and was able to go into damage control by stranding runners at second and third with a three-pitch strikeout to end the sixth.
Evan Smith took care of business in the seventh and left with one out, one on in the eighth. Jackson Lowery, who clocked in at 90-92 miles per hour with his heater, allowed Smith’s run to score in the eighth but he whiffed four to get the final five outs for the save.
Javier Hernandez got some exercise behind the plate as he had to chase down four wild pitches and a passed ball. However, he picked off Grebeck at second base to help Lietz get out of the fifth. If Hernandez wasn’t feeling beat up enough behind the plate, he was also hit by a pitch in the eighth.
Biggio enjoyed a 4-for-4 night at the plate and none of his two singles or two doubles were cheap. He made solid contact and used an all-fields approach with a double to left and right and singles to center and right. Biggio scored the eventual winning run when second-round pick J.B. Woodman grounded a single up the gut in the seventh inning.
Monty the Inflatable Mountie was a no-show. Unofficial word is he has been reassigned.
Everett emerged with the series victory by taking the rubber match by a score of 6-4.
Justin Maese gave up six runs over six innings but only two were earned. Cavan Biggio committed an error in the first that advanced a leadoff single to third which eventually resulted in a sacrifice fly. A double and two groundouts tied it for Everett at 2-2 in the second and a two-out double and single put the Mariners affiliate ahead 3-2 in the third.
Maese got away with a leadoff walk for a shutout fourth but ran into some bad luck in the fifth. Bryan Lizardo was charged with a throwing error at third. He ranged well to his right to field the ball and he bounced a throw to first that Gabe Clark was not able to hang on to. One mitigating factor may have been the weather as it began to rain in the third inning. It wasn’t a heavy rain but it remained steady for the rest of the night. Clark had made a handful of nice plays around the bag to snare some off-target throws but if he held on to the ball, the runner (Mariners first rounder Kyle Lewis) would have been out. After a game-tying sac fly, Maese surrendered a single and uncorked a wild pitch to move two runners into scoring position. The next hitter flared one into no man’s land in left field to score the runners, who were running on contact as there were two outs. Maese struck out the next hitter and went on to shut out the AquaSox in the sixth despite a two-out base hit.
Maese did not help himself by allowing the leadoff man to reach in four of his six innings and he could not work a 1-2-3 frame. He threw a couple of wild pitches to compound his problems but his defence did not help him either with two crucial errors. He threw 89-93 miles per hour and did not really throw anything offspeed until the third inning. His offspeed offerings were in the low-to-mid-80’s. The El Paso, Texas native wasn’t hit that hard in the fifth as a couple of groundball singles found holes along with that bloop single that put Everett ahead for good. His peripherals were outstanding as his K-BB ratio was 5-1 and 12 of his 14 outs in play were on the ground.
The relievers did their part to keep the C’s within striking distance. Grayson Huffman registered his pitches at 89-90 and Gabe Noyalis was around 90-91. Jackson McClelland threw the fastest pitch of the night at 94 and also clocked in at 93.
Yeltsin Gudino was hit by a 95 mph fastball by former Jays farmhand Jake Brentz in the first inning. Gudino would score the tying run and J.B. Woodman would follow after a two-run double by Jacob Anderson gave the C’s a 2-1 lead. Gudino also drove in Juan Tejada with an RBI single that tied the game 3-3 in the fourth before Woodman singled home Rodrigo Orozco to put Vancouver ahead by one.
Lefty Grayson Huffman relieved Maese to start the seventh and stranded a hit and a walk with a strikeout and two groundouts.
Gabe Noyalis also stranded two runners in the eighth by getting around a triple and a hit by pitch. Javier Hernandez threw out a runner at second on a steal attempt before Noyalis induced two groundouts, including a tapper back to the mound, to keep Everett from scoring.
Jackson McClelland worked a perfect ninth inning by getting two flyball outs and a punchout.
The C’s best chance to get back into the game was in the sixth when they loaded up the bases with one out. Javier Hernandez was hit by a pitch (forced at second by a Orozco fielder’s choice), a Cavan Biggio bunt single and a Yeltsin Gudino walk. With the number three and four hitters due up, the opportunity was there for the C’s to do some damage. Instead, Woodman hit into a fielder’s choice and Clark struck out swinging to end the threat.
Another threat was snuffed out in the seventh when Jacob Anderson tried to stretch a single into a double but he was thrown out at second. Anderson took the gamble after a diving Kyle Lewis could not make the play in shallow right-center field. Unfortunately for Vancouver, Everett right fielder Gus Craig managed to get to the ball and fire a strike to second to nail Anderson. The next batter, Bryan Lizardo, would sock a triple to split the right-center field gap, but a Juan Tejada strikeout and a Hernandez one-out late fly ball left Lizardo at third. Biggio drew a one-out walk in the eighth but that was the last baserunner of the game for Vancouver.
Vancouver had nine hits, six walks and two hit by pitches but went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Gudino, Anderson and Lizardo all had two-hit, one walk games. Clark was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
In roster news, outfielder Nick Sinay and righthander Mike Estevez have been sent down to Bluefield. Sinay was 1-for-5 with a run batted in his lone game with the C’s in Spokane June 19, an 8-1 victory. Estevez made his lone appearance out of the pen in that same contest and pitched a shutout inning despite two hits and a walk.
The C’s take on the AquaSox in a pair of 7:05 pm starts at the Nat Tuesday and Wednesday before a 1:05 pm finale Thursday. Patrick Murphy, T.J. Zeuch and Dalton Rodriguez should get the starts if Vancouver’s six-man rotation stays the course. Lefty Stuart Holmes was sent down to Bluefield where he has pitched three shutout frames over two appearances.
Vancouver is now 4-7 in the second half, three games behind Everett for first place in the North Division. A couple of names of note on the AquaSox roster, Dillon Moyer and Joselito Cano, the son of former Mariner Jamie Moyer and half-brother of current Mariner Robinson Cano respectively. Prospect watchers will miss out on Mariners 2016 first-round pick Kyle Lewis, who is out for the season with a knee injury.