Round two of the “Battle for the Boro” went to the Vancouver Canadians as they defeated the Hillsboro Hops 6-1 at Ron Tonkin Field Thursday night for their seventh win in a row.
Tanner Kirwer jumped on the second pitch of the game by swatting one over the left field fence off Hillsboro starter Ryne Nelson to give the C’s a 1-0 lead.
The Hops proved to be quick starters on offence as well in the bottom of the first when Reece Hampton lined a triple that just eluded the reach of Eric Rivera in right-center field on the first pitch from Canadians righty Troy Miller. Blaze Alexander followed with a walk but Miller limited the damage to a run when he started a 1-4-3 double play off the Axel Andueza that scored Hampton with the tying run.
Vancouver snapped the tie in the fifth by starting a two-out rally. Kirwer drew a walk before scoring on a Philip Clarke double to right field. That chased Nelson from the game as Hillsboro manager Vince Harrison summoned Blake Workman from the bullpen. Cameron Eden went to work on the new reliever by taking him deep to left-center field near the scoreboard with a 420-foot home run. That scored Clarke to increase the C’s lead to 4-1.
The Canadians added to their lead with a run in the sixth. Luis De Los Santos was hit by a pitch and was balked over to second by Workman before scoring on a D.J. Neal bloop base hit to right.
Neal figured into the scoring in the ninth inning when he blasted a ground-rule double to left field off Wesley Rodriguez, moved to third on a Rivera fly ball to centre and scored on a swinging bunt from Kirwer. The ball dribbled just a few feet in front of Hops catcher Nick Dalesandro and he threw out Kirwer at first base. Neal took off for home as soon as the throw went to first and he was safe with a headfirst slide to avoid the tag.
Miller walked five batters over five frames but allowed just the one run on two hits while striking out four. He threw 93 pitches, 53 for strikes, to improve to 2-0 on the season. He had baserunners every inning except for the fifth. He escaped a pair of walks and stolen bases from Alexander Hernandez and Leodany Perez to strand two men in scoring position in the fourth. He was up to 93 and 94 miles per hour on his fifth-inning strikeouts.
Lazaro Estrada had a successful Canadians debut in relief of Miller. Wearing #35, he threw two scoreless innings with two strikeouts to offset a double and a walk, flashing a plus-curveball according to Hops announcer Matt Richert.
Justin Maese struck out three hitters over two shutout frames with a Dalesandro infield single to third his only blemish.
Neal celebrated his return from the injured list with the only two-hit night for Vancouver. He was thrown out trying to steal second by Dalesandro after his RBI single in the sixth to end that inning.
Dalesandro wound up throwing out Kirwer and Horwitz also trying to steal. He is the son of Toronto Blue Jays utility man Mark Dalesandro (1998-1999) and had a double, a single, a walk and a stolen base for the Hops. Nick is wearing #5, just like his dad did for the Blue Jays. Mark also wore #59 for Toronto.
Kirwer was also caught stealing for just the second time this year. He has eight steals on the year and leads the team with four home runs.
Eden stole his 12th base of the year in just 13 attempts after taking a first inning walk on a bang-bang play at second. Eden and Kirwer are the top two base stealers in the High-A West League.
Spencer Horwitz had a hit and two walks to extend his hitting and on-base streaks to seven and 13 games respectively. His sharp batting eye has given him the High-A West lead with 18 bases on balls to give him an impressive walk rate of just over 30 percent. Horwitz was thrown out on a 2-4-6-3 caught stealing play. He might have scored had he remained at first as De Los Santos doubled and moved to third on a Rodriguez balk.
Clarke kept his 11-game on-base streak alive with his RBI double in the fifth. He has lifted his batting average to .268 with an on-base mark of .412.
Tanner Morris had a tough day at the plate as he went hitless in four at-bats. He fouled out to third in the fourth inning on a nice play by Buddy Kennedy as he leaned over the fence of the C’s dugout to make a catch. Morris also lifted a pop fly in the eighth to the third base side of the mound which nearly fell in as Kennedy appeared to have lost the ball in the lights. Axel Andueza ranged all the way over from first base to make the catch, almost colliding with Rodriguez on the mound.
The Canadians are tied for first with the Everett AquaSox with identical 10-4 records. The Eugene Emeralds are one game back at 9-5. Hillsboro is at 5-9 while Spokane and Tri-City are in the basement at 4-10.
The third game of this series is set for tonight at 6:35 pm. You can check out the game on CanadiansBaseball.com and MiLB.TV. C.J. Van Eyk will make his third start of the year.
Congratulations goes out to former Canadians play-by-play man Rob Fai for completing his first season of The Nation on Hubcast Media Wednesday afternoon. He hosted 40 post-game shows about the Vancouver Canucks and The Nation will return for Canucks post-game coverage during the 2021-2022 season. His next venture with Hubcast Media will see him team up with ‘The Moj’, Bob Marjanovich, for on-location broadcasts starting next month. You can also hear more of Rob on his SportsBar Radio podcast.
C’s Alumni Report
2019 C’s hurler Alek Manoah proved he is slightly human after all. His shutout inning streak to start the year ended at 13-2/3 innings when Chris Hermann took him deep for a solo shot but that was the only run Mount Manoah allowed as he struck out 10 over six innings in Buffalo’s 4-1 win over Worcester. The former West Virginia Mountaineer was feeling feisty—a little chesty, if you will—after a stare down and some words with former big leaguer Danny Santana in the sixth inning. Santana did get a single in that at-bat to add to his double off Manoah earlier.
Riley Adams (2017) had an RBI single to score a Cullen Large (2017) double that was lost in the lights by center fielder Jarren Duran.
New Hampshire lost a tough one to Portland by a score of 3-2. L.J. Talley looked to have his first Double-A home run in the ninth inning as the ball appeared to glance off the left-field foul pole but had to settle for a double instead. Chris Bec (2018) would single home Talley for his first Double-A RBI to make it a one-run game. Vinny Capra (2018)—who pinch ran for Bec—got to third on a one-out single by Kevin Vicuña (2017) but the Fisher Cats could not bring in the tying run. Vicuña had a two-hit night while Otto Lopez (2017) and Chavez Young (2017) posted a one in the hit column.
I forgot to note on Wednesday that the Fisher Cats went up against 2018 C’s right-hander Josh Winckowski who pitched five innings of two-run ball.
The Dunedin Blue Jays were 5-3 winners over Clearwater. Ryan Sloniger (2019) had a single, a run batted in and threw out a runner trying to steal third base. Gabriel Ponce (2019) stranded the bases loaded in the eighth inning and got the final four outs for his first professional save. He ended the game with a strikeout.
Jonathan Davis (2014) drew a pair of walks in Toronto’s 7-3 loss to Boston.