Hans Crouse struck out 12 over seven innings and the Indians (2-0) handled the visiting Dust Devils (0-2) 7-1 on Wednesday at Avista Stadium.
Crouse (4-1, 2.45) allowed six hits and did not issue a walk. He threw 92 pitches, 66 for strikes.
Curtis Terry went 2 for 4 with a two-run homer and four RBIs. He leads the NWL with 11 homers and 34 RBIs. Francisco Ventura added a two-run homer, his fourth in eight games.
The Big Play: Up 4-0, Crouse got into a bit of trouble in the fourth, allowing a single and double with no outs. He picked up a soft lineout to second, then recorded two more Ks to get out of the jam and walked off the field flexing.
Crouse’s slider got better as the night wore on.
“My last outing on the road against Salem-Keizer the slider wasn’t as sharp as it’s normally been,” Crouse said. “For some reason at home I turn it up a whole another notch. Found it late (tonight). Fastball command was there the whole night. That’s always a big plus.”
Pitching coach Jono Armold was impressed by the adjustments Crouse is able to make game to game and even in-game.
“That was a great outing, but the highlight for me was the adjustment he was able to make in the last week,” Armold said.
“On that pitch (the slider), that was a major focus for us – especially against Salem-Keizer the pitch started getting kind of loopy.
“I actually pulled up some data and had him look at some of the data and looked at video on him – just to get him back to where the pitch actually is for him. Almost the entire season at times it’s been really good. It wasn’t quite as good as it was tonight. But at times it’s been bigger, loopier. Tonight it got back to sharper, quicker. A couple of times he did end up getting around it (Wednesday) he made a quick adjustment and got right back to it.”
The Good: Crouse, obviously. When he’s on, and that’s been most of the time, he’s just simply too good for this league.
Also Curtis Terry. The Big Rig’s homer was a mammoth shot and he just keeps producing for this team.
The Bad: Diosbel Arias and J.P. Martinez were the only no-hits in the lineup.
The Ugly: Tri-City starter Sam Keating’s last four batters were HBP, HBP, BB, RBI BB. Ugh.
The Takeaway: Crouse probably isn’t long for this league. I know he was a high school draftee last year and is in his first season of pro ball, but he isn’t being challenged. He simply overpowered the Tri-City order.
If Crouse pitches against Hillsboro on Monday at home like he did on Wednesday, the Rangers might be better served if they let him pitch in the NWL/Pioneer League All-Star Game on Aug. 7 then move him up to Low-A Hickory to close the season to see if he faces resistance at that level.
Next Game: Indians vs. Tri-City on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Avista Stadium.
Tuesday’s Minor League Report:
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