The Tri-City Dust Devils missed out on a chance to play spoiler Monday, losing 10-6 to the Vancouver Canadians in a Northwest League matchup at Gesa Stadium.
The Canadians later lost out on the first-half North Division championship when the Spokane Indians clinched the first-half title with a 3-0 home win over Everett.
It would have been sweet, nonetheless, for the Dust Devils to take care of business in their home park against the defending three-time NWL champs.
Lately, however, Tri-City seems to have forgotten the concept of home-field advantage.
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At a park that has served the team well in the past, the Dust Devils are winless in nine games in their Pasco confines during the ruby month.
They’ve been outscored in those games at home 84-22 and 134-55 overall so far in the month of July, a stretch of 20 games.
Though the Dust Devils (14-24) have two more chances to reverse the July trend — against Salem-Keizer on July 30-31 — the home losses are a trend that has Tri-City manager Drew Saylor a little concerned.
“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t worry, because winning is vital to player development. But we take solace and pride in the fact that we’re not giving up,” Saylor said. “It could have been real easy for us when we were getting beat 10-2 to just say, ‘We’re done.’ But that’s not the way we reacted.”
Dillon Thomas hammered a pitch from Vancouver reliever Yeyfrey Del Rosario over the right field wall — a no-doubter, for sure — to highlight a four-run surge by Tri-City in the ninth inning.
Maybe it’s a matter of scoring those runs a little earlier, according to Dust Devils third baseman Josh Fuentes.
“It seems like we’re always making a push in the ninth,” Fuentes said. “What we need to do from the get-go is put together good, quality at-bats, get some runs (early) and go from there.”
Fuentes had a strong day, going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and a nice defensive play in the ninth inning, reaching over the Canadians’ dugout fence to snag a foul pop-up.
Drew Weeks also had two hits and drove in the Dust Devils’ first run, an RBI single in the bottom of the second that put Tri-City up 1-0.
Vancouver came back with two runs in the top of the third inning, but Tri-City tied it up again in the fourth on Fuentes’ RBI double down the right-field line.
From there, the Canadians went to work on Dust Devils starter Blake Shouse, who battled for four innings before giving up three runs in the fifth.
Two errors in the field didn’t help the former fifth-round draft pick.
“He wanted to do so well. He wanted to compete so well he tried to make perfect pitches instead of making good pitches,” Saylor said.
In the other dugout, the Canadians (25-13) were relishing a solid first half.
Even if it didn’t bring a North Division title, it did bring a franchise record for first-half wins.
“The last 10 days or so, the boys have really started coming on strong and doing some good things,” said C’s manager John Schneider. “The addition of Max Pentecost (hitting .417 in six games) really helped us. It kind of lengthened out our lineup.“
Having Franklin Barreto in the lineup didn’t hurt either.
Barreto, a second-year Venezuelan shortstop, went 2-for-3 with two runs and three RBIs for Vancouver.
Barreto is hitting .381 with 18 RBIs in his last 10 games.
“He’s a pretty special player. He’s really exceeded our expectations on offense and defense,” said Schneider.
Shouse (1-5) took the loss, allowing four earned runs on six hits over five innings.
Miguel Castro (5-2) got the win with six strong innings, giving up two runs on four hits.