Dust Devils back at Gesa Stadium trying to keep a two-game win streak alive against the Yakima Bears.
Josh Mueller, the Colorado Rockies' 13th-round pick out of Eastern Illinois, will get his first start tonight after recording a 1.69 ERA in five relief appearances. He'll face Yakima right-hander Miles Reagan, who is 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA in five starts.
Tri-City is four games back of East Division leader Boise with just 10 games left until the first-half break. The Dust Devils are going to have to make a move quick if they want to contend for a first-half playoff spot.
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Mueller is really struggling in the first inning. Of course, it helps that Yakima appears to have some very patient hitters. Mueller ran full counts to the first two batters he faced and gave up a one-out bloop single to Westley Moss. Raoul Torrez fouled off four pitches on a 2-2 count before striking out. Zach Walters fouled off three more pitches on a 1-2 count before another bloop single to right. Then Mueller allowed a two-run single to Yazy Arbelo for a 2-0 Bears lead.
In all: six pitches to Justin Hilt, six more to Moss, nine to Torrez, seven to Walters, five to Arbelo and finally, eight to Raywilly Gomez to end the inning. Forty pitches in all for Mueller.
Not the most memorable debut as a starter.
I'm a little surprised to see that Mueller got pulled after just one inning. Maybe he was on an extra-short leash tonight, but usually guys get 60 pitches in their first start. You have to think Mueller would have better luck with his pitch count in the second inning. Even if he doesn't, you get a reliever throwing in the bullpen and pull Mueller out if things start to go south.
I'll have to ask Tri-City manager Fred Ocasio about that later....
Tri-City gets two runs back in the bottom of the third after leadoff batter Dominic Altobelli reached on a fielding error by Yakima shortstop Walters. Then Russell Wilson was hit by pitcher Miles Reagan. Both advanced 90 feet on passed ball to set up men on second and third with nobody out.
Jeremiah Sammy and Chandler Laurent followed with RBI groundouts to tie the score.
Score tied at 2 after three innings.
Dust Devils starting to find life in their bats. Leadoff doubles in both the sixth and seventh innings leads to spark three more runs. Bryce Massanari drove in Laurent after his league-leading 12th double of the year in the sixth. Then Dustin Garneau hit a high flyball that got lost in the lights by leftfielder Evan Button for a twilight RBI double that made it 4-2.
In the seventh, Altobelli led off with another 2-bagger and Jeremiah Sammy drove him in with a line-drive double into the left-center fielcd gap for a 5-2 lead.
Tri-City bullpen has been solid since Mueller was pulled.