Vancouver starting pitcher Roberto Osuna was the one everybody was talking about before Tuesday’s Northwest League game at Gesa Stadium.But Ben Hughes, the Tri-City Dust Devils starter, ended up earning the spoils of an 8-1 victory.
“His last outing he struggled a little, but he kept the ball down tonight,” Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio said. “I believe we got three two-out RBIs with two strikes. We did a lot of good things.”
Osuna, a 17-year-old out of Juan Jose Rios, Mexico, was two games removed from a 13-strikeout performance against Everett and carried a heavy buzz with him as he took the field. The Toronto Blue Jays’ bonus baby, who signed a free-agent contract for $1.5 million in 2011, pitched well enough to win, allowing just one hit and one unearned run in 3 2/3 innings.
Hughes (3-4), on the other hand, gave his team 5 2/3 strong innings against the defending NWL champions. The 6-foot-5 right-hander out of St. Louis Park, Minn., allowed one unearned run on four hits while walking none to help snap the Canadians’ seven-game winning streak.
“I had a few notes on working the ball inside and outside, but mostly I just tried to keep the fastball down. If you can run a good fastball down and away, hitters are going to have a tough time with it,” Hughes said.
The Dust Devils also managed to gain a game on the entire East Division, as Boise, Spokane and Yakima all lost. Tri-City (24-28 overall, 6-8 second half) remains three games behind first-place Boise (9-5) but moved into a tie for second place with Spokane (6-8)Derek Jones, the Colorado Rockies’ seventh-round pick out of Washington State, continued his latest streak of productivity, driving in two more runs with the game on the line. With two outs in the fifth, the 6-foot outfielder drove a 1-2 pitch from reliever Tucker Donahue to the wall in right center field for a two-run triple.
Over his last five games, Jones is 5-for-13 (.385) with seven RBIs.
“As a player, you see a lot of ups and downs, but I’ve been getting more and more confidence with this park,” Jones said. “I’ve seen a lot of at-bats, and sometimes you get a little something in your head that leads to good things.”
That secured the win for Hughes, but Tri-City kept piling on the runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Herrera added an RBI single in the sixth, and the Dust Devils sent nine batters to the plate against Nick Purdy in the seventh, scoring four runs with two outs.
The Canadians scored their first run in the top of the third inning on a throwing error by Sosa in left field, but Tri-City tied it up in the bottom of the fourth on a fielding error by Vancouver second baseman Daniel Arcila.
Today’s pitching matchup will be Tri-City RHP Peter Tago (2-5, 5.11 ERA) against Vancouver RHP Ben White (3-4, 5.47). ... Dust Devils’ C Anthony Aguilera extended his hitting streak to six games with a sixth-inning single and threw out two runners trying to steal second base. ... Tri-City C Tom Murphy, who has a 17-game hitting streak, was given a day off and should return to the lineup today. ... The NWL announced its players of the week for July 29-Aug. 5. Offensive player of the week is Spokane C Joe Maloney, who hit .417 (10-for-24) with three doubles, two home runs, six RBIs and seven runs in six games for the Indians. The Pitcher of the week is Eugene’s Will Scott, who held first-half champion Everett to just two hits in six innings while striking out five batters during a 2-0 Emeralds’ win.
Dust Devils alumni update: Colorado Rockies SS Josh Rutledge continues to impress since being called up from Triple A on July 13. Rutledge, who made his pro debut in Tri-City in 2010, had his 11th multi-hit game, going 4-for-5 in the Rockies 3-1 win against the Dodgers. The University of Alabama product is hitting .356 (32-for-90) in 22 games with six HRs, two triples, nine doubles and 15 RBIs.