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Big Weekend for the Vancouver Canadians

Thursday night’s series finale in Everett encapsulated the Canadians season. After getting a great start from Colton Turner and a clutch two RBI double from the slumping Justin Atkinson, the C’s turned the ball over to closer Chuck Ghysels in the ninth. Four batters later, Vancouver was back on the bus heading up the I-5 having been swept by the Aquasox.

Unbelievably, despite the shocking twelve and seventeen second half record, if Everett go on to win the North division again, Vancouver actually have a chance to make the playoffs. Coming into the weekend home series with the same overall record as their opponents, the Spokane Indians, it makes the next few games rather large. Some might say massive.

I’ve found myself running through all sorts of permutations in my head. If Everett win this game and Vancouver lose, but Tri-City win, blah blah blah. All of them have Vancouver making the playoffs. The last few days though, has seen this glass half full idealism poured out.

After being spoiled with two straight Northwest League championships, this edition of the C’s is just not that great. It’s not one aspect of the game that is particularly bad, although the bullpen has been poor at best, it’s just that they don’t string together all four elements of the game on a consistent basis.

Friday was case in point. After Tom Robson breezed through four innings, albeit with Ian Parmley bailing him out with an excellent throw to the plate to end the fourth. The C’s right fielder nailed Marcus Greene after the Indians catcher had worked an umpire assisted one out walk.

It was the fifth where things got a bit hairy. After a strikeout to start the inning, the umpire once again made his presence felt with two terrible calls. The second of which had Robson barking at him, which, of course, had to be returned in kind. After this exchange, Spokane’s Barrett Serrato hit a seeing eye single which really should have been fielded by second basemen Christian Vazquez. A frustrated four pitch walk followed to put runners on first and second.

Indians nine hole Gabe Roa then hit a grounder to second for a potential double play. On a close call at first, the base ump called the back half safe which sparked more remonstrations from Robson. This time he got tossed for his troubles.

Matt Dermody replaced the now feeling shame Robson. He immediately gave up the go ahead run on an odd play. With the runner on first breaking, Canadian catcher Mike Reeves initially double clutched before throwing late when he should have just stuck the ball in his pocket. By bouncing his throw to second, Serrato was able to jog home from third for the first run of the game.

That lead was erased when Chaz Frank cashed in Brenden Kalfus and Dawel Lugo with a clutch two out single in the seventh.

It was at this point the C’s looked for a way to lose. Lugo, who had made two great plays at short, booted a routine grounder. A bunt by Gabriel Roa had Dantzler confused, leaving it for Dermody who not only couldn’t make the play, but pulled up lame. So, with two on and none out, one of the few bright spots in the C’s ‘pen was heading for the showers.

Garrett Pickens came into a tough spot. A sac bunt was followed by an intentional walk to load the bases. Pickens, who had walked 4.37 per nine prior to Saturday, then walked in the tying run. A strikeout and double play did limit the damage, but there was still another inning to go.

Two walks began the ninth. Not ideal. A double play ball made things a bit better, but with Chuck Ghysels replacing Pickens a two out bunt single by Roa, his second consecutive bunt had the infield at sixes and sevens with Justin Atkinson deciding to come home instead of going to first.

There you have it, a two out bunt single scores the winning run.

Positives? Robson was good (more on him below) and so was Dermody. The rest of the bullpen wasn’t, Lugo’s error was huge, and the offense was dormant. They had nine hits, but left nine on base, going two for ten with runners in scoring position. Once again, aside from Dantzler’s double, the extra base power is non-existent.

Notes from the Manager’s Office:

C’s manager Clayton McCullough was frustrated with the loss, but put things in perspective by saying ‘we needed to win this series and we still have a chance to do so.’

I asked him if he gave any thought to pinch hitting for Parmley or Vazquez late in the game. Both players had struggled all night, going 0 for 8 with four strike outs between them. It hadn’t crossed his mind. ‘By not putting these kids into these situations, with the crowd going nuts, they’re never going to learn.’

Pitching coach ‘Big’ Jim Czajkowski was his usual frank self. He was ticked off at Robson, even before the tossing. Jim said that his fastball was so good on the night he could have just used that. But instead of busting hitters in and getting some cheap outs, he worked predominantly away.

Although it worked the first time through the order, it gives hitters a chance to work counts the second time through. This was especially true in the fourth inning when he threw twenty-two pitches. My charts show at least eighteen of those on the outer half. The best pitch of the inning was a 92 mile per hour fastball which tied up Janluis Castro, striking him out.

Czajkowski wasn’t thrilled with Robson’s curve ball either. He didn’t throw many (I only had 5) but only two were quality.

I’d like to extend my condolences to hitting coach Dave Pano and his family who are in Florida after the passing of his mother.

Robson during happier times (courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

Robson during happier times (courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

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