Tri-City Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio isn’t prone to displays of emotion, but the two-time Northwest League skipper of the year wore his heart on his sleeve after Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Spokane at Gesa Stadium.
It wasn’t enough he had to endure a bases-loaded error by shortstop Rosell Herrera that let in the go-ahead run with one out in the ninth, but he seethed with anger after Yafistel Roja was picked off of first after a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning.
“We pretty much gave it away. We had a chance to score and gave it right back to them with that mistake,” said Ocasio, who called Roja into his office after the game to address the mental error. “I was just letting him know that was a hit-and-run. You don’t get picked off first. You’re not trying to steal a base. You’ve got to give the hitter a chance to put the ball on the ground.”
But he didn’t blame Roja exclusively for the loss. This one was on the whole team.
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“It was everything. Not knowing signs, getting picked off, making mental errors,” he said. “Physical errors are going to happen, but we’ll talk to them tomorrow and let them know they have to pay attention and play the right way.”
Spokane (13-26), which just finished dead last in the first-half, got on the board in the first when Gabriel Roa hit a one-out infield single and later scored on a two-out double by Royce Bolinger.
The Indians tagged Dust Devils starter Roberto Padilla with another run in the second after a leadoff single by Barrett Serrato led to an RBI double by Joe Maloney to make it 2-0.
Padilla was making his first start in a month after returning from a four-week relief stint in Class-A Modesto, the Colorado Rockies’ California League affiliate. Padilla settled down to retire the last five batters he faced, including a double play to end the third. He allowed two runs on five hits in four innings.
He was replaced by Ryan Arrowood, who went four scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 1.01.
“Arrowood came in and threw the ball well,” Ocasio said. “He did an outstanding job.”
Tri-City (18-21) chased Spokane starter Connor Sadzeck early, forcing him into deep counts and making him throw 74 pitches in just three innings. Francisco Sosa got to him just before he left, smashing a two-run double off the left-field wall to tie the score at 2.
The ball nearly left the yard, hitting about two feet below the top of the fence, and Sosa hit it hard enough to think it was gone.
“The pitcher was throwing a little wild, and he got one up,” Sosa said through teammate Brook Hart.
“We didn’t do the little things or take care of fundamentals tonight, and we had an error in a tough spot,” Sosa said. “It’s a matter of bringing the same positive mentality tomorrow.”
Seth Willoughby (2-1) took the loss for Tri-City, allowing an unearned run on two hits in the ninth. Cody Kendall (3-2) got the win for the Indians, throwing two scoreless innings before Josh McElwee picked up his fourth save with a scoreless ninth.
NOTES: Today’s pitching matches are RHP Ben Hughes (2-3, 4.00 ERA) for Tri-City, and RHP Abel De Los Saints (3-3, 2.29). ... Sosa’s two-run double extended his hit streak to six games, and C Tom Murphy reached base for the eighth consecutive game with a first-inning single. ... Spokane extended a few hit streaks as well: OF Hirotoshi Onaka went 2-for-4 for his fourth consecutive multi-hit game; Bolinger hit in his ninth consecutive game and drove in a run for the seventh straight contest; 2B Cam Schiller and DH Joe Maloney each hit in their seventh consecutive game.
Dust Devils alumni update: In the South Atlantic League, OF Jared Simon (2010-11) had a career night, going 5-for-5 with four runs scored and seven RBIs, including a pair of three-run homers and two doubles in Asheville’s 16-3 home win over Greenville. RHP Chris Jensen (2010) improved to 11-3, allowing three runs on six hits over six innings. ... In the Texas League, OF Kent Matthes (2009) went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs, including his team-leading 16th home run, in Tulsa’s 6-2 road win at Northwest Arkansas.