Columns & Blogs

Dust Devils increase power quotient

Interesting little trend developing here in 2008.

For the first16 games of the season, the Tri-City Dust Devils were one of the most power-challenged teams in the Northwest League, hitting just two home runs through its first four series.

But since then, the Dust Devils plugged in the power and have started to see some results.

It took 10 games before any Northwest League player could hit a ball out of Gesa Stadium. And now all of a sudden it’s Coors Field.

Look at the latest three-game series against Spokane. In all, both teams combined for seven home runs, 54 runs and 77 base hits.

Through the first seven years of the club’s existence in Tri-Cities, you could count on one hand the number of times a Dust Devils player hit two home runs in a game.

But it happened twice in three games against Spokane — Thomas Field and Johnny Bowden each took advantage of a nice, warm breeze blowing out to left to add to their season totals.

After their latest 15-2 win over the Indians, the Dust Devils are second in the NWL with 32 home runs, trailing only Eugene with 34 homers. Tri-City is on pace to hit over 50 home runs, something it hasn’t done since 2004, when the team hit 58.

Tri-City is hitting a combined .259, which is currently fourth among NWL teams. Only the 2004 club — led by Rockies’ top prospect Joe Koshansky — was able to hit the .260 mark. Koshansky also shares the team record of 12 homers with Darin Holcomb, who led the 2007 team to the NWL East Division title.

There’s nobody this year who will threaten the single-season homer mark — the team leaders are Austin Rauch and Thomas Field, who have four apiece with just 28 games remaining.

But the evidence is there: These boys can mash.

The Dust Devils are slugging .390, its best mark since the 2004 team, which finished at .394. Tri-City also leads the NWL with 19 triples and is on pace with the 2001 club, which set the franchise record with 30 three-baggers.

Maybe Gesa Stadium is transforming itself into a hitters park after all.