Kind of a slim crowd tonight, which is a shame. Even with the Northwest League's best team (the Dust Devils are tied with Eugene for the league's best record) you'd think people would choose good baseball over a seen-one-seen-em-all county fair.
Maybe that's just me being bitter about losing all those midway games as a kid.
But it would be too bad if Tri-City sets the NWL shutout record tonight — a pretty rare feat — and only a handful of fans are here to see it.
It reminds me of when Tony Gwynn was going for his 3,000th hit back in the summer of 1999. He had a perfect opportunity to reach the mark during the San Diego Padres' road trip in St. Louis, which has some of the best and most knowledgeable fans in baseball. But he didn't get it in St. Louis. Instead, he set it during the Padres' next road trip to Montreal, where fans wouldn't know a baseball from a ham sandwich. There might have been 6,000 people in the stands that day.
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Which brings up a philosophical question: If the Dust Devils did set the shutout record, and there's nobody in the stands, did it really happen?
Scott Tylinski, the Dust Devils' official scorer/scoreboard operator, knows the answer to that.
"The answer is yes," he said. "And 10 years later, 15,000 people would say they were in the stands to see it."
The Jordan Ribera watch is in full force tonight.
Ribera, who led the NCAA in home runs at Fresno State in 2009, had a strong first half for Tri-City. He led the league with five home runs and 29 RBIs before he went down for four weeks with a groin pull.
When he came back on Aug. 13, Jordan knew he'd take a while to get up to speed, but nobody thought it would take this long to get his first hit. He's 0-for-30 in nine games since coming back, and everybody agrees that he's too good a hitter to not recover.
It's not that he's not hitting the ball hard, either. Last night, he had two nice line drives that went straight at Spokane outfielders.
Make it 0-for-31. Ribera just struck out in his first at bat tonight.
I saw Tyler Anderson, the Colorado Rockies' first-round draft pick in the 2011 draft, in the Dave Lemak Clubhouse before the game. He and Paula Ward, the team seamstress, were giving each other a hard time because Anderson went to the University of Oregon and Paula went to Oregon State.
It's not a good idea to give Paula too much grief, however, since she can do all sorts of fun things with your uniform if she sees fit. But Anderson seems like a good guy, so I don't think he'll have any problems.
Anderson, a left-hander, put up some nice numbers with the Ducks. He holds every strikeout record at Oregon — career (285), single-season (114) and single game (14) — and even though he won't overpower you with a 92-mph fastball, scouts love his deceptive delivery.
He should see some action down the stretch, too. Probably not as a starter, but he'll be valuable in relief.
Dust Devils draw first blood tonight, getting a run in the bottom of the third.
Jayson Langfels and Richard Pirkle — the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters — drew walks from Spokane starter Nick Martinez, and Brian Humphries laid a gorgeous bunt up the first base side, finding a hole between Martinez and first baseman Yefry Castillo.
Tim Smalling struck out before Tyler Massey singled to right to bring in Langfels for a 1-0 lead.
The next batter, Jared Simon, hit a grounder to Drew Robinson at third base. Robinson threw home to force Pirkle for out No. 2.
Interesting note: The Dust Devils fans just got to see a rare on-field marriage proposal. Those are always nice to see (especially when the woman says yes).
I did a double-take when I heard the name of the woman, though: Neddy Martinez of Pasco. She was one of the area's best golfers in her four years of high school. I'm sure she still swings a mean 3-wood. In fact, her brother Samson, had a terrific showing at the 3A boys high school tournament in the spring, leading after the first round before posting a top-10 finish.
Anyway, congratulations to Neddy and her fiance, Isaiah.
Tri-City starter Chris Jensen had allowed just one hit through four innings, but he's run into some trouble here in the top of the fifth. He walked the leadoff hitter, Ruben Sierra, and then gave up a double to right center field by Zach Cone to set up runners on second and third with nobody out.
Jensen did get the first out whe Robinson grounded to first baseman Ribera, who threw home to catcher Pirkle in time to get Sierra. Now the double play was back in order.
But Rougned Odor tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center field, just deep enough to score Cone.
Score 1-1 after 4 1/2 innings.
Once DJ Luke heard that 'Solsbury Hill' by Peter Gabriel was one of my favorite songs, he plays it whenever he can. A gentleman, a scholar and a damn fine athlete he is.
Dust Devils take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Massey bounces a two-out single up the middle off Spokane reliever Juan Grullon and then advances to second on a wild pitch. That makes all the difference, because that gave Jared Simon a chance to drive him in.
Simon does just that, lining a 2-2 fastball from Grullon into left center to give Tri-City a 2-1 lead.
Ken Roberts is warming up in the bullpen, so he'll get a chance for his first save in a week.
And Roberts locks it up with a scoreless ninth for his 10th save. Dust Devils win 2-1.