A promotional question was posed at Gesa Stadium on Tuesday night: What is the best way to stay cool at the ballpark?
The obvious answer — ice cream underpants. But a close second was to put on a Dust Devils uniform, pick up a bat and step to the plate with runners in scoring position.Brrrrr.
The Spokane Indians came through in the clutch with five unanswered runs over the final four innings, while Tri-City just clutched up in a 6-4 loss. Of the eight men they left on base, six were in scoring position.
Spokane’s Kevin Torres delivered an RBI single in the sixth and a big two-run double in the eighth as the visitors erased a 4-1 Tri-City lead.
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Despite a rare big inning for the Dust Devils (6-13), they still lost their ninth in 11 games and fell to 2-8 at home.
Faced with a glacial offense, Tri-City manager Drew Saylor tried to generate some heat by playing small ball. And the bunts and hit-and-run plays finally thawed out Tri-City’s bats in the 107-degree heat, culminating in a three-run fifth inning.
Chris O’Dowd tripled off the wall in left to lead off and came home on Cesar Galvez’s single up the middle. Alec Mehrten followed one out later with a two-run hit, upping his team-high RBI total to 11.
Those three runs were more than the Dust Devils had scored in eight of their previous 12 games.
But that was the end of the scoring for Tri-City as the Spokane bullpen delivered four innings of one-hit ball. Ryne Slack (2-0) went three innings for the win, with Mike Zouzalik escaping some trouble in the ninth for his second save.
Matt Pierpont (0-1) took the loss for Tri-City, getting tagged for all three Spokane runs in the eighth.
The Dust Devils and Indians (9-10) close out their three-game set at 7:15 p.m. today before Tri-City heads off to Boise for five games starting Thursday.
The Dust Devils passed up on two golden chances in the first and second innings, both times getting two on with no out and coming up empty thanks to double plays. But it was their final two missed chances that killed them.
Spokane had just answered Tri-City’s three-run fifth with two in the top of the sixth, knocking Dust Devils’ starter Ryan Warner out of the game.
Tri-City was given a gift in the bottom of the sixth, with two walks and a hit batter loading the bases with one out. But Marcos Derkes watched strike three with the bat on his shoulder, and Cesar Galvez grounded out to third to end the inning.
The Dust Devils made some noise in the ninth, with Derkes drawing a one-out walk and Galvez following with a single to cap his 3-for-5 night. But a strikeout by Patrick Hutcheson and easy fly to right by Mehrtens ended the game.
Tri-City fell behind 1-0 in the first but tied the game in the third, though it seemed destined to end as another missed chance.
Derkes led off with a clean bunt down the line to third, but Galvez’s hit was precarious at best. With Derkes taking off on the pitch, Galvez popped up a bunt to the right side of the infield. Spokane’s Torres was charging in from first, and the ball lofted over his head to land safely in shallow left.
But Galvez was gunned down on a delayed steal and Hutcheson struck out. But Spokane starter Collin Wiles’ 0-2 offering to Mehrten was in the dirt and got by catcher Marcus Greene. Derkes slid home easily with the tying run.
Notes: The expected starters for tonight’s game are Kelvin Vasquez (0-1, 3.65 ERA) for Spokane and Konner Wade (0-1, 2.00) for Tri-Cities. ... The Dust Devils will hold a fireworks show after the game.