Another beautiful day at Gesa Stadium, and here I am getting paid to watch baseball. Rough life, I know.
Actually, it wasn't so beautiful earlier this afternoon, though. I was out in Richland doing some feature interviews for our upcoming football preview (which comes out Friday, Sept. 2), and there was a wicked windstorm that kicked up from the south.
The wind was still gusting as I headed out to Chiawana's practice in Pasco. No dirt to kick up, really, since they've got field turf on their practice field. But the wind was blowing my notebook pages all over the place.
Patrick Noland of KNDU told me that a red-flag warning was issued earlier today, meaning that the combination of high winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential. That's something Patrick knows about, seeing as his next job will be firefighting in Tri-Cities.
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Good luck to you Patrick!! I know you'll do well.
Jason Schwartz, the Dust Devils play-by-play man gave me a few rather fascinating stats about the team's losses this year at Gesa Stadium.
The Dust Devils hold the Northwest League's best home record at 23-8, but their eight losses have been very close. Six of those games were 1-run games, and in five of those six games they left the tying run on base.
In five of the eight losses, Tri-City scored at least one run in the ninth inning.
This year, home field advantage has truly been just that. But the Dust Devils aren't that bad on the road, either, with a 15-18 record — third best in the NWL.
Quick shout out to Lauren Davies, who tunes in from the Gesa Stadium souvenir stand. Thanks, Lauren, for following along!! Keep up the good work out there.
Dust Devils trail 1-0 after three innings, but it could be much worse. Spokane's Guillermo Pimentel singled to lead off the top of the second. The next batter, Ruben Sierra, hit a potential double-play grounder to second baseman David Hernandez, but the throw sailed over Taylor Featherston covering the bag at second and put runners at second and third with nobody out.
Jorge Alfaro hit an RBI groundout to Featherston to drive in Pimentel, but Tri-City starter Ben Alsup did a great job getting out of the inning after that. He struck out Drew Robinson for the second out and got Hanser Alberto to fly out to right to end the inning.
I decided to go healthy today and bring in some fresh green beans from the produce stand off Court Street and Road 48 in Pasco. They're a nice alternative to hot dogs and soda. Let's face it, though, I'm sure I'll grab a hot dog, too.
I was a little surprised that everyone in the press box was willing to partake. Not everyone likes green beans, much less raw green beans, but I'm proud of everyone for taking a few. To your health, everyone!!
I was joking with Mike Boyle, the Spokane (and former Tri-City) radio man, that his girlfriend Shelly will be pleased to know he's eating his vegetables and setting a good example for his 19-month-old son, Patrick.
Jordan Ribera may be on a terrible run offensively (counting tonight, he's hitless in his last 27 trips to the plate) but it hasn't affected him defensively. He just picked out a low throw from Featherston with two outs and a man on third. It was a very tough scoop that hit the dirt about four feet in front of the bag.
Ribera is the LAST player I would have guessed to have a slump like this. Before a groin injury kept him out four weeks, he was the Dust Devils' best hitter with a .320 average and led the team with 29 RBIs and five home runs.
He drove the ball pretty well against Yakima a few nights ago, but he hasn't made good contact for the last few games, however.
Keep your head up Jordan. The hits are going to be there. Hopefully tonight.
A strange little play with one out in the top of the fifth. Hirotoshi Onaka, the Indians leadoff man, hit a slow grounder to Featherston at short, but he didn't get his glove down far enough and it rolled into left field behind him. Onaka ran hard around first and ended up at second with a hustle play. The official scorer ruled it a double despite Featherston missing an easy grounder.
I think maybe the ball might've caught the lip of the infield grass before Featherston got to it. Maybe that's why he got a break.
But Alsup got out of it without giving up the run.
Still 1-0 Spokane after five innings.
Sign of the apocalypse: I just got a text from my sister, Erin, down in San Diego. Let's just say she's not a big believer in social media.
Erin's on the long road to recovery after rupturing her achilles tendon a few months ago during a soccer game. She's my hero — one of the toughest people I know — but I know she's still fighting through it. She's having a beer right now, trying to get a bad day (week?) out of her system. I wish I were having one with her.
Here's to you, Erin!!
Indians get one more run in the top of the sixth on a bloop single by Jorge Alfaro. Dust Devils outfielder Jaron Shepherd ran hard for the ball and got to it in good time, but I'm not sure he was aware that Trever Adams was rounding third at the time. As a result, Shepherd didn't make a throw home. But a good throw would have nailed Adams.
Tyler Massey riding a 10-game hitting streak coming into tonight, but he's 0-for-2 and coming up in the sixth with runners on base.
AND MASSEY GETS IT DONE!!! He lines a single over Spokane shortstop Alberto to drive in Brian Humphries to cut the lead to 2-1.
My sister, Erin, texted me back to say she read tonight's blog and wanted to correct me on one thing.
She's been drinking WHISKEY, not beer.
God bless her.
Spokane starter Nick McBride walks Jared Simon and the bases are loaded for Ribera. What a sweet way this could be to break out of a slump if he could make something happen.
Indians bring in reliever Jerad Eickhoff to face Ribera. He drives the ball hard to right field, but Pimentel is there to make the grab. What's more, Shepherd made a terrible baserunning error at third base, taking off well after Pimentel made the catch, so he was out by a mile at the plate to complete the double play.
Things get ugly in the top of the eighth, as Spokane scores four to take a 6-2 lead. Jorge Alfaro tops it all off with a towering three-run home run to left center field. He hit the ball so high in the air, the wind caught it and carried it over the Columbia River.
Well, we didn't actually see where the ball landed, but it seems like he hit it pretty far.
Looks like this is just one of those ugly games that pops up every now and then. Spokane gets two more in the ninth to make it 8-1.
A late Tri-City rally fizzles before it even gets started, and the Dust Devils go down swinging — literally — with three strikeouts in the ninth.
But hey, when you clinch the first half it takes a lot of the pressure off. Tri-City already has a playoff berth locked up and still the Dust Devils are four games up in the East Division.
On the other hand, Spokane is looking pretty good.