The Vancouver Canadians were looking for their first win at home against the Boise Hawks heading into the third game of their five-game series. Dalton Rodriguez was given the starting assignment and he was looking for his first victory since July 10 at home against the Tri-City Dust Devils as well as to seek revenge against the Hawks, who handed him a loss in Idaho July 17.
The C’s were down 2-0 before their first at-bat as Boise used a single, a stolen base, a double, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly against Rodriguez to get their runs across. Hawks starter Robert Tyler would fare worse in the bottom half of the inning. Despite throwing 95 MPH, he walked Rodrigo Orozco and Bryan Lizardo to start the game and threw one to the backstop to move them up 90 feet. Joshua Palacios tapped one back to Tyler who had Orozco hung up in a rundown between third and home. However, Hawks catcher Campbell Wear was called for baserunner interference and Orozco was awarded home plate and the first run of the game for the Canadians. Boise manager Andy Gonzalez argued the call but it was to no avail. He would not like what would happen later in the inning.
After a wild pitch moved both Lizardo and Orozco into scoring position, Tyler could not get the elusive final out of the first. Christian Williams walked to load up the bases before Yeltsin Gudino reached on an error by Tyler Follis at third that allowed Lizardo to score the tying run. After Tyler’s high pitch count, Jared Gesell was brought out of the Boise pen. He uncorked a wild pitch that didn’t bounce all that far from Wear at the plate but Palacios made the decision to take off and it paid off as he used his blazing speed to score standing up to put Vancouver ahead 3-2. Javier Hernandez was hit by a pitch to reload the bases but Deiferson Barreto, the number nine hitter, flied out to end the inning. To recap, Vancouver scored three runs on zero hits, three walks, a hit by pitch, three wild pitches and two errors, including the baserunner interference call.
Boise would tie the game in the top of the second. A single and a walk put two runners aboard with one out but a sharp ground ball was hit to Williams at first, who threw it over to second for the force out but Gudino botched the relay throw to allow the runner from second to score.
Rodriguez got himself in more water in the third by walking the first two hitters but he helped himself out by jumping on a bunted ball down to the third base side quickly and throwing to Lizardo at third for the force out. However, Rodriguez uncorked one to the backstop to move the runners up and one of them came home on a sacrifice fly to put the Hawks up 4-3.
Rodriguez continued to struggle in the fourth by walking the leadoff batter but got a hand from Hernandez who picked off the runner at first from home plate. D-Rod lasted just one out into the fifth after a single and a double and was pulled from the game in favour of Nate Abel. The lefty walked the first batter he faced to load the bases before a sacrifice fly gave the Hawks a two-run advantage. Abel got out of the inning when Hernandez threw out Eric Toole trying to steal second.
After Mike Bunal settled things down with three scoreless frames out of the Boise bullpen, the C’s rallied against Alec Kenilvort, the fourth Hawks pitcher of the game, when Lizardo ripped a two-run single to right before he was thrown out at second. The inning was set up on a walk to Gudino, an infield single by Hernandez and a bunt single to first by Barreto.
The C’s would take the lead again in the seventh when a Christian Williams fly ball to the warning track in left field glanced off the glove of Steven Linkous and over the five-foot fence for a solo home run. Vancouver would score in the eighth off Justin Lawrence when Barreto singled and got to second on an error before reaching third on a double play ball. Palacios, whose 12-game hitting streak and 25 game on-base mark were on the line, came through with a base hit up the middle to cash in Barreto to put the C’s ahead 7-5.
Palacios certainly showed a flair for the dramatic. He had a 3-1 count in two separate plate appearances but could not reach base either time but he kept his streaks going with what turned out to be a very important hit.
Abel, who struck out the side in the seventh and eighth innings to offset a couple of singles and a walk, handed the ball over to Nick Hartman – who appears to be the new closer after the promotion of Griffin Glaude to Lansing – for the ninth. The Hawks made it interesting with a single, a stolen base and another base hit to close to within a run but Hartman got Toole to tap back to the mound as the C’s hung on for the 7-6 win.
Radar Gun Rundown
Rodriguez topped out at 91 MPH and had two K’s at 82 and 90. He was in the upper 80’s for most of the evening. Abel reached 90 at one point and had K’s at 80, 84, 86, 87 and 88 among his six. Hartman’s lone K came in at 95 and had one pitch at 80.
Pregame Warmup August 23
After the identity of the C’s starter in this game was kept top secret, it turned out that TBA/TBD would be TJZ as in T.J. Zeuch, who made his first appearance in 13 days after his previous turn in the rotation was skipped for the series finale in Hillsboro. Having seen Zeuch charting pitches in the stands for the previous two games, it only made sense the 21st pick of the 2016 draft was going to get the ball for this one.
Zeuch’s first pitch of the game was a 95 MPH called strike but his second pitch resulted in a single to left by Steven Linkous, who would steal second but was nailed trying to steal third by Javier Hernandez. For the second night in a row, Boise skipper Andy Gonzalez came out to argue a call in the first. That was a break for Zeuch as he showed some rust by walking the next batter, Tyler Orris, who would later steal second. The big righty would get Garrett Hampson to ground out before striking out Jacob Bosiokovic to end the inning.
Zeuch would retire six in a row but Boise managed to scratch out a couple of runs with two out in the third. Linkous would be his nemesis again with a single and a stolen base and Orris had an infield single to third that was thrown away by Bryan Lizardo to give Boise the game’s first run. Hampson then hammered a triple to deep center that eluded J.B. Woodman and scored Orris with the second run. I just wondered if Joshua Palacios would have been able to make the catch but he couldn’t as he was given the night off. Still, it was a tough play as Hampson really scalded that one. After a mound visit by pitching coach Willie Collazo, Zeuch did get back on the beam by ending the inning with a strikeout for the third time, whiffing Bosiokovic for a second time.
Lizardo went about atoning for his error by starting the third with a double and he would come home on a two-out single by Nash Knight to even things up at 2-2 apiece. Zeuch would find his rhythm by retiring the last seven hitters he faced to end his five-inning outing. It looked like he might get rewarded for this efforts when Cavan Biggio reached on an infield single to second to start the home half of the fifth and that was followed by a walk to Lizardo. Unfortunately, Woodman flied out and Williams hit into an inning-ending double play to end Zeuch’s hopes of getting his first professional win.
Geno Encina entered the game in the sixth and he started out by a stranding a two-out single and stolen base. The C’s tried again to break the 2-2 tie by loading up the bases on singles by Nash Knight, Jacob Anderson and Yeltsin Gudino with nobody out. Gudino had tried to move the runners over with a bunt but after not showing bunt on a pitch that put the count at 2-1, Gudino pushed one past the mound to get on base. D.J. McKnight could not get anyone home after popping out to short and Hernandez would ground into a twin-killing to keep the Canadians from scoring.
So, Vancouver had runners at first and second and then first, second and third in two straight innings but could not produce a run. They tried again when Cavan Biggio worked a walk to start the seventh but he was thrown out trying to steal second.
Boise tried to get the upper hand against Encina in the eighth when Orris reached on an error by Biggio at second when the ball took a bad hop and struck Biggio in the face. With two outs and two on after an intentional walk, Encina got a ground ball to short to end the threat and keep the game tied.
Encina ended his four-inning stint in style with a clean ninth on two punchouts and a tapper back to the mound. Gudino started the ninth with his third hit of the evening on an infield single to third. It appeared McKnight was going to join Gudino on the basepaths after laying down a bunt in front of the plate but after a lengthy discussion, McKnight was ordered to head back to the batter’s box. After failing to get down a bunt for the second time, McKnight was clearly frustrated with himself but he made good on his third attempt to put Gudino into scoring position. The C’s could not get Gudino home as Hernandez went down swinging and Biggio was rung up. That drew the ire of not only Biggio but C’s skipper John Tamargo Jr. Woodman was also frustrated with a strike three call to end the seventh as he flung his helmet and bat in frustration.
Jackson McClelland took over for Encina in the 10th and gave up a hit with two strikes to Linkous, the continual thorn in the Canadians’ collective side. What followed was a sac bunt, an intentional walk and a throwing error by Hernandez on a double steal that allowed Linkous to score the go-ahead run. McClelland rebounded by striking out the next two hitters to end the frame.
After facing George Thanopoulos, not to be confused with broadcaster George Stroumboulopoulos, and his 95-97 fastball, Boise brought in the fireballing Julian Fernandez to close this one out. Using his 100 MPH heater to get the save in the series opener Saturday, Fernandez “only” got to 99 this time around. Still, Lizardo, Woodman and Williams could not get the ball out of the infield as Fernandez collected his second save of this five-game set to nail down the 3-2 win. The victory also ensured the Hawks of winning the season series with six wins in nine games. Hey, there’s always the two NWL championship flags from 2012 and 2013 flying around at the Nat.
Radar Gun Rundown
Zeuch hit 96 on the gun and got his first of five K’s at that speed. He also struck out batters with pitches of 91, 94 and 95 twice. He also pitched in the 83-85 range.
Encina was around 78-91 and his 6 K’s registered at 76 twice, 78, 80 twice and 83. He was hovering around 88-89.
McClelland struck out batters at 90 and 93. He got as high as 95 and 96.
Denis Diaz was hoping to build on his best start of the season that saw him win Northwest League Pitcher of the Week honours. Well, that didn’t happen. Six was a good number for him in his last start as that was the number of innings he pitched. Six was a bad number this time around as that was the number of walks he issued.
The 21 year-old righty from Honduras began the game by striking out Steven Linkous but he surrendered back-to-back, two-out doubles by Garrett Hampson and Willie Abreu for the game’s first run. He survived two walks in the second but he walked the bases loaded in the third before a two-run single by Wesley Jones made it 3-0. A wild pitch and another walk/wild pitch upped the lead to 4-0.
Grayson Huffman relieved Diaz and got a double-play ball for the first two outs of the inning. However, Wilkyns Jimenez had an RBI single to make it 5-0. Huffman had trouble finding the plate in the fourth as a leadoff walk and his throwing error on a pickoff attempt put Linkous at third. After a walk to Tyler Orris, a sacrifice fly by Hampson gave Boise a lead of an unconverted touchdown. Huffman would induce another double play ball in as many innings to stop the bleeding.
Vancouver finally responded in the fourth when one-out singles by Deiferson Barreto and Rodrigo Orozco put runners on the corners. Barreto would come in to score on an Andres Sotillo groundout and Josh Reavis would double home Orozco.
Gabe Noyalis, Evan Smith and Nick Hartman teamed up to shut down Boise over the final five frames with Noyalis and Smith working two innings apiece.
Reavis would cut the Boise lead in half with his first professional home run to left field to start the seventh. Bryan Lizardo would single later in the frame but was erased on a ground ball double play by Joshua Palacios. J.B Woodman started the eighth with a base hit but that rally was killed by a GIDP from Barreto.
The C’s tried again in the ninth against Hawks closer Julian Fernandez as Orozco and Cavan Biggio drew walks to bring Lizardo up to the plate as the potential tying run but Lizardo flied out to end the game, giving the Hawks a 6-3 victory and a four-out-of-five series win.
One bit of good news was Palacios extending his hitting and on-base streaks to 14 and 27 games respectively with a third-inning single.
Radar Gun Rundown
Huffman was in the 89-94 MPH range. Noyalis had two K’s registered at 82 and 96. He threw one as low as 79 and also got up to 91, 93 and 95.
The Canadians open up a series this weekend against the second-half North Division leading Everett AquaSox. The 10-17 C’s are tied with the Tri-City Dust Devils for second place but both teams trail the 20-7 Mariners affiliate by 10 games. Basically, the C’s have to run the table and not lose a game and hope the AquaSox fall off the table and not win a game.
The C’s are looking at the real possibility of seeing Everett clinch the division title unless they pull off the three-game sweep. However, the Frogs have won eight of nine in the season series so the odds are not in Vancouver’s favour.
Based on an educated guess, the probable starters should be Andy Ravel in tandem with Mike Ellenbest, Luis Sanchez and Dalton Rodriguez. Friday’s and Saturday’s games are at 7:05 p.m. and the Sunday finale at Everett Memorial Stadium goes at 4:05. You can listen to the games at CanadiansBaseball.com.
As mentioned, Griffin Glaude has been promoted to the Lansing Lugnuts. That marks the second time the C’s have seen their closer go to Michigan after Jackson Lowery was called up.
The C’s are now soliciting votes for the Fans Choice Player of the Year Award for 2016. You can vote by clicking here. The winner will be announced during an on-field ceremony at the C’s next home game Monday, August 29 against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.