It’s exhibition baseball for the rest of 2016 for the Vancouver Canadians. They were officially eliminated from playoff contention by losing Friday night to the Everett AquaSox, who clinched and celebrated the second-half North Division title on their home field, Everett Memorial Stadium. The magic number was one for Everett and they took care of business in the series opener before winning again on Saturday. The C’s did win the series finale Sunday thanks to two-run homers by Bryan Lizardo, Jacob Anderson, D.J. McKnight and Juan Tejada (returning from Lansing) and six innings from Patrick Murphy for an 8-6 win to avoid the sweep. Still, the Mariners affiliate had their way with Vancouver in 2016 by winning 10 out of 12.
Vancouver was without the services of second baseman Cavan Biggio, outfielders J.B. Woodman and Joshua Palacios and pitcher T.J. Zeuch as all four were promoted to Lansing to help with the Lugnuts’ playoff chase, something the Canadians did not get to experience in the second half. Two sweeps by Everett in late July and early August on put any damper on playoff hopes.
The C’s looked to turn the page as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes came to town for the start of a five-game series, the last at home for Vancouver in 2016. If the opener of this series is any indication, this season won’t end soon enough for the home nine.
Things started well enough when Vancouver starter Dalton Rodriguez struck out the side to overcome a walk in the first inning, using fastballs of 89, 90 and 90 MPH to get the job done. Then in their first at-bat, D.J. McKnight tripled to right field and scored on a Bryan Lizardo grounder to short.
The lead would not last. Rodriguez gave up a leadoff single in the second before Lizardo mishandled a grounder at third. He could not start a double play, settling instead for a 5-3 play on the scorecard. A single and a sacrifice fly would bring in the tying run. The Volcanoes took the lead in the third after a leadoff walk, a stolen base, a single and a two-run home run by Ryan Howard made it 4-1 Volcanoes.
Rodriguez settled down after that and did get the first two men in the sixth before exiting on a single. Gabe Noyalis came in to try to hold the deficit at 4-1 but he did not have it as he allowed Rodriguez’s runner to score and three more of his own to expand Salem-Keizer’s lead to 8-1. Evan Smith was slaughtered for five more runs, including two homers, over the final three frames.
Vancouver did get three runs in the eighth thanks to a wild pitch and a throwing error but that was putting lipstick on a pig at that point as Salem-Keizer coasted to a 13-4 laugher.
Brett Wellman, relegated to coaching first base this season, will have an entry on his 2016 baseball page as he drew a pinch-hit walk in the ninth in his first plate appearance of the year. Wellman pinch-hit for McKnight, who had a three-hit evening. McKnight lined a ball off the leg of Salem-Keizer starter Garrett Williams in the fifth but Williams shook it off and completed six innings before turning the ball over to the pen.
Juan Tejada returned to Vancouver sporting a new number. Having worn #30 to start the year, he was given #2 this time around – the number Mattingly Romanin had before the Burlington, Ontario native was put on the disabled list. Righthander Griffin Glaude was also returned to Vancouver after just one appearance with Lansing.
The C’s and Volcanoes go at it for the next four days in alternating 7:05 and 1:05 pm starts Tuesday through Friday at the Nat. Denis Diaz will get the ball for Vancouver in the second game of this series. Mike Ellenbest/Andy Ravel, Luis Sanchez and Patrick Murphy or some combination thereof may get the rest of the starts in this series, barring call-ups or injuries.
For those who watch games at the Nat, the voice of summer at the park – public address announcer Don Andrews – was noticeably absent over the last few games. The reason was revealed during last night’s radio broadcast. His father had passed away after a lengthy illness. Condolences, thoughts and prayers to Mr. Andrews and his loved ones during this difficult time.