No-hitters and home runs ... definite signs that a baseball team is playing well.
But bloop singles that fall in between three and four fielders? Now thats a sign things really are going your way.
Julian Yan crashed a ball over the left-field wall, but it was the dinks and dunks by the likes of Marcos Derkes and Kyle Von Tungeln that were daggers in Salem-Keizer as the Tri-City Dust Devils handed the Volcanoes a 6-2 setback Sunday night at Gesa Stadium.
One day after the fans in Pasco were thrilled by the franchises second no-hitter, the 1,684 on hand were treated to another standout pitching effort as Antonio Senzatela made his U.S. debut and threw top-notch ball for 5 2/3 innings. The bullpen was just even more unforgiving, setting down 10 of the last 11 S-K hitters.
Tri-City (18-19) pulled within a game of .500. The Dust Devils play their only home day game at 11:15 a.m. today to close out their five-game set with Salem-Keizer before starting an eight-game road trip Tuesday at Everett. They have a chance to take four of five off the South-leading Volcanoes (23-14).
The Dust Devils piled up 13 hits on the night, none more impressive than Yans two-run drive in the second inning, his first in a Tri-City uniform.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder got his long arms extended on a 1-0 fastball from Salem-Keizer starter Drew Leenhouts (5-1), his easy stroke sending the ball soaring over the wall in left for a 2-all tie.
The Dust Devils took the lead in the fourth on a pair of RBI singles from Mike Tauchman and Derkes. The Tri-City batters didnt seem to have any trouble solving Lenhouts, who came in with an impressive 1.65 ERA for six earned runs over 32 2/3 innings. He left after four short innings with seven hits and four earned runs on his line.
Wilfredo Rodriguez got things started in the fourth with a leadoff four-pitch walk and moved up on a passed ball. Tauchman singled sharply to right to score the run and reached second on the throw home.
Ashley Graeter bunted Tauchman up to third, and one out later Derkes blooped a ball into shallow left that fell between three fielders for a 4-2 lead.
The Dust Devils finished their scoring in the sixth with back-to-back singles by Graeter and Yan setting the table. One out late, Cesar Galvez shot a sharp single down the line past third base to score Graeter. Yan came home when Van Tungeln lifted a ball to left-center that looked like an easy play. But as the two outfielders and two middle infielders converged, the ball somehow found the grass for an RBI single.
That was more than enough for the Dust Devils staff.
Senzatela, ahe recent addition to the club, had been pitching in the Dominican Summer League, but he looked perfectly comfortable in the Northwest League as well.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder free agent acquisition in 2011 was consistently in the low 90s with his fastball and mixed in a couple different breaking balls with a changeup.
He ran into a spot of trouble in the second with two singles, an error and a double steal pushing two runs across as the Volcanoes took an early lead.
Senzatela (1-0) walked two more batters to load the bases, but an elementary double play 1-2-3 ended the threat without further damage.
The Tri-City defense was up to its old tricks, turning two double plays to up its NWL-leading total to 45 in 37 games. Also, Michael Benjamin at third base and Galvez at second each speared a liner to help keep the Volcanoes offense dormant.
Senzatela came back from that second inning with a six-pitch, 1-2-3 third inning and was rolling before a two-out single ended his night just shy of six full innings. He left with six hits, two runs, one earned, two walks and two strikeouts to his tally.
Troy Neiman came on to close the sixth and added the seventh and eighth innings to his bag. Eric Nedeljkovic slammed it shut in the ninth with a pair of easy grounders and a strikeout, claiming a broken bat in the process.
NOTES Benjamin (hitting .277) and Graeter (.182) each had three hits at the plate, and Yan and Dereks both went 2-for-4. ... Tauchmans RBI was his 14th, tied with Sean Dwyer for second on the team behind Alex Mehrtens 18. ... The Dust Devils have won 12 of 17. ... Todays likely starters are Chase Johnson (1-0, 0.00 ERA in 9 IP) for Salem-Keizer and Tyler Anderson, making his first appearance for Tri-City. w Kevin Anthony: 582-1403; firstname.lastname@example.org