The Vancouver Canadians were unable to put together their first winning streak of the season. They suffered their third loss in four games with a 10-6 setback against the Tri-City Dust Devils at Gesa Stadium Friday.
The C’s produced the game’s first run in their first at-bat when they loaded the bases against Dust Devils starter Robinson Piña. Tanner Kirwer took a pitch off the elbow to start the game and stole second base and Philip Clarke and Cameron Eden both heard ball four to load the bases. Pina would strike out the side swinging by retiring Spencer Horwitz, Ronny Brito and Ryan Gold but it was a Piña wild pitch during Brito’s at-bat that allowed Kirwer to score.
The inability of the C’s to take full advantage of a bases-loaded, nobody out situation would come back to haunt them in the bottom half of the first. C.J. Van Eyk would wild pitch a run home himself and the trouble started on a bloop single to right by leadoff hitter Livan Soto. He would score after stealing second and advancing to third on a fly ball by Brendon Davis. Van Eyk walked Francisco Del Valle and Adrian Rondon on 3-2 pitches and despite a mound visit by Vancouver pitching coach Phil Cundari, Carlos Herrera smoked a two-run double to center nearly left the yard to make it 3-1. He would steal third base and looked to score on a Franklin Torres ground ball to second but Rafael Lantigua would knock the sharply hit ball down with a dive before throwing out Torres. However, Drevian Williams-Nelson would double to center on another 3-2 pitch to score Herrera with Tri-City’s fourth run. Will McAffer relieved Van Eyk after 42 pitches but he would Ty Greene on a full-count offering and Jose Verrier on four pitches before finally ending the inning with a Soto groundout.
Vancouver would storm back with a four-spot of their own in the second. Luis De Los Santos led off with a walk and swiped second. Lantigua dropped a bunt single to push De Los Santos to third. Lantigua stole second and a throwing error by the catcher Greene led to De Los Santos scoring the C’s second run. Clarke and Eden drew their second walks of the game with two outs to chase Piña from the game. Cristopher Molina then gave up a three-run double to Horwitz to give Monty’s Mounties the lead again at 5-4. Brito kept the inning alive with an infield single to short but Horwitz and Brito would be stranded when Gold struck out.
Tri-City would even the score in the bottom of the second when Davis drew a full-count walk and reached second on a McAffer wild pitch. McAffer struck out Del Valle for the first out but a Rondon single to left plated Davis with the tying run. The inning would end on a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Herrera.
The C’s tried to re-take the lead in the top of the third when De Los Santos was plunked by Molina but De Los Santos was thrown out trying to steal second even though it appeared he was safe. Lantigua reached on a throwing error by Molina and Kirwer’s infield single to third put a pair of runners with two away but Clarke went down swinging for out number three.
The Dust Devils would reclaim the lead in their half of the third when Williams-Nelson belted a two-run home run against McAffer after Torres singled on the first pitch of the inning. McAffer bounced back with two strikeouts on full-count pitches en-route to retiring three in a row.
In the top of the fifth, Gold smashed a single to right off the glove of Herrera at second and got into scoring position when D.J. Neal reached base on a throwing error by Soto at short. Neal had to leave the game with an injured leg and was replaced by Will Robertson. Lantigua singled up the middle to score Gold to make it a 7-6 game. Kirwer struck out against Molina and Clarke lined out to right against Dust Devils reliever Chad Sykes to maintain the Tri-City lead.
Sykes would alternate strikeouts with walks to Horwitz and Gold to keep the Dust Devils ahead in the top half of the sixth and they would put the game away with three runs in the bottom half of the frame. Herrera doubled to left for a two-out, three-run triple off C’s reliever Sam Ryan who had kept Tri-City in check in the fourth and fifth.
Greg Veliz allowed a Lantigua single in the seventh and Tyler Smith worked around eighth inning walks to Horwitz and Gold and a free pass to Kirwer in the ninth to wrap up the win for Tri-City.
Before going into the other details surrounding this game, I was disheartened to hear a racially-insensitive sound byte emanating from the DJ’s sound booth at Gesa Stadium. A Foghorn Leghorn sound byte ‘I say go away, boy! You bother me!’ was aired after D.J. Neal struck out in the third inning. Given that Neal is black, that sound bite was in incredibly poor taste and it should be removed. It’s 2021 and stuff like that is unacceptable. You can hear it around the 1:17:30 mark of the C’s broadcast.
Lantigua was the player of the game for Vancouver. He had a three-hit night, drove in a run and made two fine defensive plays that including starting an inning-ending 4-6-3 double to end the second inning.
Clarke saw his three-game hitting streak come to an end but he did extend his on-base streak to four with a pair of walks.
Both teams had success in the running game. The Dust Devils swiped four bases in five tries while the C’s were 3-for-4.
Andrew McInvale put together Vancouver’s best pitching line of the night to give the offence a chance to come back. He struck out two of the first three men he faced in a clean seventh inning and stranded a Soto leadoff single and stolen base by whiffing Rondon in the eighth.
Horwitz is second in the High-A West league in on-base percentage so far with a .611 mark and Tanner Morris—who had Friday off—is fourth at .500. Gold is eighth at .462. Horwitz had the sixth-best batting average at .364 and Kirwer is just behind at .357. Kirwer is one back in the stolen base column with three successful attempts.
The High-A West transactions column indicates that left-hander Luke Gillingham has gone on the seven-day injured list retroactive to Friday. Gillingham took the loss in the season opener Tuesday. Also, 2019 C’s infielder Davis Schneider has been promoted from Low-A Dunedin. Schneider split 2019 with Vancouver and Bluefield.
Troy Watson will make his first start in a Vancouver uniform in the final 6:30 pm contest of the series. The game can be heard on CanadiansBaseball.com and on an alternate feed from Sportsnet 650.
C’s Alumni Report
Schneider drew a walk and scored a run in Dunedin’s 25-10 loss in Tampa. 2019 C’s catcher Ryan Slonger had a single and a free pass.
Otto Lopez (2018) had a hit, a walk and threw out two runners at the plate from left field but New Hampshire lost 9-6 to Portland. 2017 C’s Kevin Vicuña and Brock Lundquist both doubled with Vicuña enjoying a two-hit night. Chavez Young (2017) singled and walked.
Cullen Large (2017) had a triple among his two hits and a sacrifice fly and Richard Ureña (2014) had a single and two walks but Buffalo lost to Worcester 4-2. 2015 C’s southpaw Tayler Saucedo was dominant out of the pen for the Herd with three shutout innings of one play with three groundouts and four strikeouts.