The Tri-City Dust Devils have pulled off a quick turnaround since playing the Spokane Indians in Pasco on July 1-3. Spokane swept that series with scores of 3-1, 6-4 and 11-0 as the last-place Dust Devils fell to 6-14 overall and nine games behind Everett in the Northwest League's North Division. In the days since, including Monday's 4-1 win over the Indians, Tri-City is 9-2 and has pulled within five games of Everett and one game of third-place Spokane (16-15). Everett (20-11) and Vancouver (19-12) are likely going to battle it out for the North's first-half title because the halfway point is seven games away, but Spokane and T-C want to build momentum for the second half. Read story
Many fans at Avista Stadium, and staff working in the press box, were confused when Indians manager Tim Hulett became so steamed during what seemed like an unimportant stretch of the third inning.
"The umpires this season are emphasizing (allowing) nothing on the sides of the field," Indians acting manager Vinny Lopez said. "We had (second baseman Janluis) Castro warming up, getting his legs loose, and they made a big stink out of it."
Spokane Indians starter Collin Wiles (1-3) took the loss but had some of his best stuff of the season. Wiles struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and one earned run. Wiles' highest strikeout total of the season came in his previous start, on July 8, when fanned five.
The Indians' elimination number for the North Division first-half title is four. Any combination of four Everett wins or Spokane losses will put the first-half crown out of reach for the Indians. Tri-City's elimination number is three.
The Dust Devils entered the game with the league's worst team batting average, but by outhitting Spokane 9-5 Tri-City (.221) moved past the Indians (.219).
The bigger number was Spokane's four errors, which led to three unearned runs.
"We made a couple of mistakes and a couple of miscues on the field and it snowballed a little bit," Lopez said. "But this team is tough … and I think tomorrow we’ll come out swinging and be fine."
Tri-City is still last in the league in home runs, with just five in 1,007 at-bats.
T-C's Kyle Von Tungeln started his season at Asheville and moved up to Modesto before returning to Pasco.
"I wasn't getting too many (at-bats) so I came out here to get the chance to swing the bat every day," he said.
The trip out of California had more drama than he expected.
"I came in during all the San Francisco fiasco at the airport, so I got kind of rushed in," he said. "I wasn’t really introduced to everything that was going on. I just kind of hopped off a plane and started playing with them."