With the Tri-City Dust Devils’ first home win in their last six tries in serious doubt Wednesday night against the Spokane Indians, the 3,308 Gesa Stadium fans in attendance began looking forward to the post-game fireworks show in center field for entertainment.
Little did they know, Drew Saylor would be showing off his own incendiary abilities down the third base line during Tri-City’s 11-0 Northwest League loss.
The Dust Devils’ first-year skipper got thrown out of a game for the first time in his young managerial career after a slow burn turned into a fiery tirade against home plate umpire Kyle McCrady in the bottom of the third inning.
Tri-City matched Spokane hit-for-hit with eight. The Indians, however, was more opportunistic, taking advantage of five walks, four errors, three wild pitches and two hit batters to complete a three-game North Division sweep.
The Dust Devils (6-14) took their fifth consecutive loss, their sixth home loss in a row and 10th loss in their last 12 games. Even with a loss by first-place Everett (15-5), Tri-City remains a distant nine games out of the North Division lead.
Spokane started fast, as leadoff batter Chris Garia reached on an infield single before stealing his way to third and scoring on a wild pitch by Tri-City starter Konner Wade to make it 1-0.
The next inning, the Indians took advantage of four consecutive hits following a leadoff walk by Wade to score four runs and take a 5-0 lead. Spokane scored five more in the top of the fifth, no thanks to a pair of Tri-City errors and three walks.
Alberto Triunfel broke the Gesa Stadium home run spell in the 20th game, blasting one over the left field wall to lead off the top of the ninth — the first time any player has cleared the wall this season — to make it 11-0.
Saylor’s exit was prompted when Spokane starter David Ledbetter appeared to hit Jose Monzon, Tri-City’s No. 9 hitter, on the left hand with an inside fastball with one out and a man on second. But McCrady ruled that the ball hit off the bat.
While Dust Devils trainer Casey Pappas examined Monzon, Saylor jawed with McCrady about the condition of his player. When Pappas saw Monzon couldn’t swing the bat without pain, he advised taking Monzon out of the game.
That’s when Saylor’s temper reached a boiling point, and within a minute was ejected by McCrady before being escorted off the field by hitting coach Warren Schaeffer.
David Ledbetter (1-0) earned the win for Spokane, allowing three hits over five scoreless innings.
Konnor Wade (0-2) took the loss for Tri-City, giving up five runs on six hits in four innings. Shane Broyles, a former Dust Devil making his first appearance of the year back in Tri-City, pitched three scoreless innings of relief.
Michael Benjamin led the Tri-City offense, going 3-for-4. Sean Dwyer went 2-for-3.
Garia led Spokane, going 2-for-6 with three runs scored.
Notes: The Colorado Rockies moved Dust Devils’ RHP Trent Blank and LHP Jayson Aquino up to Asheville on Tuesday, and moved Broyles from Asheville to Tri-City. Blank, a second-year reliever out of Baylor, is still leading the NWL with four saves. Aquino (0-1, 3.13 ERA) was the Dust Devils’ most consistent starter and a prized Rockies’ prospect. Broyles was perhaps Tri-City’s top starter in 2012 with a 5-3 record and a 3.69 ERA. Tri-City also added SS Patrick Valaika, a ninth-round draft pick out of UCLA.