Dust Devils pitching shaky in season-opening loss

June 14, 2013 

Drew Saylor would have preferred a victory in his professional debut as manager in front of 3,272 fans Friday at Gesa Stadium.

He’s content to celebrate that on another day.

"It'll come when it's meant to come," Saylor said. "There are plenty of teams that have won on Opening Day and finished .500, and there are plenty of teams that lost on Opening Day and went on to win a championship."

What had to bother the Tri-City Dust Devils first-year skipper about Friday’s 9-5 Opening Day loss to Vancouver was how easy the Dust Devils made it for the defending Northwest League champion Canadians.

Vancouver scored nine runs on four hits but took advantage of 11 walks and eight wild pitches by five Tri-City pitchers.

"Vancouver's a good team, but we beat ourselves," Saylor said. "But I was excited that after being down (8-1) we could come back and bring the tying run to the plate."

Dust Devils starter Peter Tago pitched a solid first but began to lose command in the second. The Colorado Rockies’ former first-round draft pick gave up just two hits but also allowed seven walks and hit a batter. He took the loss in his first-ever Opening Day start.

Saylor said after the game that Tago was affected by a blister underneath a finger on his pitching hand.

"He didn't tell us until after he came out," Saylor said. "That tells me how badly he wanted to fight through it."

His replacement — Shawn Stuart — didn’t fare much better in the top of the fifth, walking four of the first five batters he faced and hitting the other to bring home a run. Another wild pitch brought home yet another run as Tri-City trailed 8-1 after five innings.

"(Stuart) let the experience outside get to him. That's something he'll learn from," Saylor said.

But the Dust Devils fought back with four runs over the final four innings to put itself in position for a ninth-inning comeback.

With Tri-City trailing 9-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Wilson Soriano led off the ninth with a single to center, and Cesar Galvez singled with one out to move Soriano to second. After a groundout by Zach Osborne, Vancouver reliever Chuck Ghysels then walked Wilfredo Rodriguez and Ashley Graeter to make it 9-5.

Ghysels then struck out Patrick Hutcheson, who represented the tying run, to end the game.

Eric Brown got the win for the Canadians, allowing one run on two hits in five innings. Jordan Leyland and Dickie Thon each scored two runs for Vancouver.

Graeter drove in two runs for Tri-City, while Osborne and Jose Monzon each had two hits.

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