With only 12 games remaining in the Northwest League season, the Tri-City Dust Devils have to like where they stand.
Not only did they beat the Boise Hawks 5-4 on Tuesday at Gesa Stadium for their fourth consecutive win, the Dust Devils (11-15 second half, 30-34 overall) also gained another game in the North Division standings after a Spokane loss, pulling to within one game of a three-way tie between Everett (12-14, 35-29), Spokane (12-14, 32-32) and Vancouver (12-14, 34-30).
“We’re playing good baseball, playing in the present and working each at-bat,” Tri-City manager Drew Saylor said.
The Dust Devils begin a three-game series at Avista Stadium today in Spokane, a team they have beaten just once this season in nine previous tries. Saylor doesn’t believe that will play into the scouting report over the next three days.
“They’re all important from here on out,” Saylor said. “We’ve got to be able to compete against the baseball and play for all 27 outs.”
It looked like Tri-City would need some major breaks against Boise starter Dillon Maples, who came into the game on a roll at 5-0 with a 0.96 ERA, having won his last five decisions. But Maples looked lost from the get-go, walking two, hitting another batter and giving up a single to Chris O’Dowd in the first and trailed 2-0 in the first.
O’Dowd singled and stole second to lead off the third then scored on Mike Tauchman’s single to right. Tauchman later scored on a sacrifice fly by Sean Dwyer to give Tri-City a 4-1 lead.
The Dust Devils scored their final run in the bottom of the fourth after Patrick Valaika drew a leadoff walk and scored on Kyle Von Tungeln’s one-out single to right.
Tri-City starter Johendi Jiminian (3-3) picked up his third win of the year, giving up three runs on six hits over five innings. The Dominican native didn’t have his best outing of the season, but he displayed the kind of mental toughness that the Colorado Rockies excited about him.
Kevin Encarnacion connected with Jiminian’s second pitch of the game, depositing it over the right field wall for a 1-0 lead. But it failed to shake the lanky 20-year old in his 13th start of the year.
“It doesn’t matter. I wanted to focus on attacking another hitter,” said Jiminian, who suffered more bad luck when Shawon Dunston’s hard grounder toward shortstop — one that likely would have ended the fifth inning — ricocheted off the leg of base umpire Kirk Struble, resulting in an infield single. That opened the door for a two-run double by Yasiel Balaguert, which cut Tri-City’s lead to 5-3.
“(Jiminian) battled for us. He had to pitch a little differently because he didn’t have his best stuff,” said O’Dowd, who finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored, raising his average to .269. “He could have easily blown up, but that guy found a way to keep us in it.”
With the tying run at first base, Jiminian struck out Rony Rodriguez to end the fifth.
Shawn Stuart and Marc Magliaro combined for three innings of scoreless relief.
Dust Devils closer Trent Daniel gave up his first run of the season in the ninth, but still closed things out for his 14th save of the year.
Maples (5-1) got hung with the loss, giving up five runs on six hits over four innings.
Notes: Attendance was announced at 1,645. .... Today’s starters will be Tri-City RHP Ryan Warner (3-3, 2.95 ERA) against Spokane RHP Eric Brooks (1-3, 3.70 ERA). Warner, a NWL all-star has made eight consecutive quality starts in a row, going 3-2 with a 1.89 ERA since July 7.w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; firstname.lastname@example.org