A fantastic pitching matchup tonight between two of the Northwest League's high octane pitchers.
RHP Ben Hughes (2-4, 4.24 ERA) goes for Tri-City. With this outing, he should find his way back into the NWL top-10 in strikeouts. He's got 36 — good for 13th in the league — but with a good night could work his way up to seventh or eighth.
Vancouver will send out RHP Roberto Osuna — its 17-year-old phenom out of Juan Jose Rios, Mexico. He's younger than most high school seniors, but he's got a lot more money than any of them after signing a $1.5 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011.
In his first NWL start against Everett on July 28, the hard-throwing righty struck out 13 batters in five innings in a 7-6 road loss. He struggled a bit in his second start, allowing four runs on six hits in three innings in an 11-4 Canadians' win.
Both pitchers off to pretty good starts. Hughes has two strikeouts in two innings and Osuna has one. Neither has allowed a run.
No score heading into the third.
For much of the first half of the season, Tri-City was a pretty solid defensive team, but lately there have been some serious issues as to the mental state of this team.
Last night, it was first baseman Miguel De Leon committing the cardinal sin of forgetting how many outs there were. When he lazily tossed the ball toward the pitchers mound after a putout, thinking that was the third out when it really was only two, it cost Tri-City a run.
Tonight, it was a bad outfield relay by Francisco Sosa, who made the catch in left field with a runner on second and completely missed cutoff man Rosell Herrera. Compounding the problem was not having someone to back up the throw, and the ball rolled into the Canadians' dugout to score Ian Parmley from second.
1-0 Vancouver after three innings.
Dust Devils tie it up at 1 in the bottom of the fourth. Osuna allows back-to-back walks with two outs to Derek Jones and Roberto De La Cruz. Patrick Hutcheson hits a slow grounder to Daniel Arcila at second, who flips to shortstop Jason Leblebijian to get the force at second, but Hutcheson beats the throw to first.
The next batter, Anthony Aguilera, hits a hard grounder to Arcila, who can't control a tough hop, and the ball bounces into right center field. Jones scored on the play to even things up.
Osuna leaves the game after the play, having thrown 76 pitches over 3 2/3 innings. He's replaced by Tucker Donahue.
Derek Jones starting to catch fire.
Kyle Von Tungeln leads off the fifth with a walk by Donahue, who retires the next two batters before hitting Sosa on an 0-2 count.
Jones makes Donahue pay for the little indiscretion, driving a triple into the gap in right center to empty the bases and make it 3-1.
That's the seventh RBI in the last five games for Jones, the former Washington State star. Through his last at bat, he's 5-for-12 over that stretch, which should push his season average over the .200 mark for the first time since July 23.
Tri-City scores another in the bottom of the sixth, as Herrera hits an opposite field single to left to bring in Aguilera for a 4-1 lead.
The Dust Devils continue to pour it on in the seventh. Sosa starts the inning with a leadoff single, and Nick Purdy then deals walks to Jones and Patrick Hutcheson. Purdy almost gets out of it, getting the second out before Osborne keeps things going with an RBI infield single.
Von Tungeln then walks to drive in another run and Hutcheson scores on wild pitch by Purdy. Finally, Osborne capped the scoring on a throwing error by third baseman Kellen Sweeney that made it 8-1.
Tri-City relievers Chris Dennis and Brook Hart keep a clean sheet for 3 1/3 innings, and the Dust Devils snap the Canadians' seven-game winning streak with an 8-1 victory.
Tomorrow, it's Tri-City RHP Peter Tago (2-5, 5.11 ERA) against Vancouver RHP Ben White (0-0, 3.38). Game time 7:15 p.m. at Gesa Stadium.