Drew Saylor is known as a positive person. The Tri-City Dust Devils first-year manager would much rather walk into a room and build it up rather than tear it down.
But Saylor was flat out angry, storming off the field with a scowl on his face, after watching his team fall flat in a 7-2 loss to Spokane on Tuesday at Gesa Stadium.
“We have to be ready to play. There’s no excuse for lack of effort,” Saylor said after being asked what he would tell his team in his daily post-game speech.
Tri-City has lost six of its last seven Northwest League games.
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The good news for the Dust Devils (7-12 second half, 26-31 overall) is that they are still just two games out of first place in the North Division, trailing Spokane (9-10, 29-28), Everett (9-10, 32-25) and Vancouver (8-11, 30-27).
But a run at the second-half title will require a lot more effort than Tri-City put forth against the Indians, who lead the season series 6-1 with five more games remaining.
“We have to find a way to play hard for 27 outs,” Saylor said. “Tip your hat to Spokane. They were swinging the sticks well.”
Leading the charge for the Indians was Jordan Akins, who finished 3-for-5 with a double and a two-run home run off Tri-City reliever Shawn Stuart with one out in the top of the fifth. That gave Spokane a 5-1 lead.
“The thing we lost sight of is we stopped throwing down in the (strike) zone,” Saylor said.
Akins also hit a ninth-inning double that almost left the park.
The Indians took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third after RBI singles from Barrett Serrato and Marcus Greene, and a run-scoring wild pitch from Dust Devils starter Antonio Senzatela.
Tri-City cut the lead to 3-1 after Michael Benjamin drew a two-out walk in the third inning, took third on a pair of wild pitches by Spokane starter David Ledbetter and then scored on Patrick Valaika’s infield single.
Valaika scored the Dust Devils’ second run in the bottom of the ninth, coming home on Kyle Von Tungeln’s two-out single.