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The Highs and Lows of the Canadians

When I wrote my six stats to beat Tri-City piece yesterday, I focused mainly on the C’s edge in the power department, starting pitching, and in shutting down the running game. There were secondary mentions of the bullpen and atmosphere at the Nat. After only one game in this crucial six gamer with the Dust Devils we can’t really draw too many statistically relevant conclusions, but hey, let’s jot down a few thoughts anyway.

Vancouver did not win the starting pitching match yesterday as Jeremy Gabryszwski had an uneven night at best. I should mention that I went to the game last night with my kids so probably saw more of the bouncy castle then Gaby but from what I did see, his fastball command wasn’t at its peak. He was missing up, and with his mediocre velocity, fastballs up in the zone are going to get hit. And they did, for a total of eight over his five and two thirds, three of which were doubles. His curveball was also inconsistent on the night. I saw a few great ones, and a few flatter ones up in the zone.

That all being said, three earned isn’t a terrible outing, it was just bested by Tri-City’s Konner Wade who went six and two thirds giving up an unearned run on only four hits. He didn’t have overpowering stuff as shown by his solitary strikeout, bearing in mind the C’s lead the league in K’s, but he was keeping Canadian hitters off balance by throwing all three of his pitches for strikes.

The boxscore says that the Dust Devils won the power battle with four extra base hits against the C’s two, but it was Dawel Lugo‘s first Northwest League homerun (a towering shot to dead center) which tied the game in the ninth, so we’ll call this one a draw.

On the basepaths, Tri-City showed why they lead the league in stolen bases swiping four in five attempts. I’ve always maintained that stolen bases at this level are generally swiped on the pitcher, but Mike Reeves didn’t help his cause with two throwing errors.

Two of those extra bases were crucial, including the eventual game winner, as they came around to score on singles. The C’s only countered with one swipe, by Ian Parmley, who also had two bunt singles. He is flat out fast.

Notes from the Pressbox (well, stands):

Did I mention Lugo’s ding dong was a shot? Shows you why scouts are so high on this kid.

Brendan Kalfus had the most frustrating at bat of the night as he struck out to end the tenth with runners on second and third, and ninth inning hero Lugo on deck. Frustrating because, with a 3-1 count, he swung at balls four and five to K.

I know that a lot of the time in the lower minor leagues there are directives from above on who should play, how often, etc so I’ll try not to be too critical of C’s manager Clayton McCullough here, but I am starting to question some of his decisions. The insistence on starting Justin Atkinson every day at third is puzzling. The Surrey native has a .175/.313/.188 slash line over the last month and is average (at best) defensively. Further to that, on his one hit last night, a swinging bunt, he appeared to be hobbling up the line. If he is carrying an injury, yet still playing over the likes of David Harris, who is slugging .338 (to Atkinson’s .292), or Shaun Valeriote you have to question the decision-making.

It’s not like Justin is a prospect, he was picked in the 26th round and is on his third position in three pro seasons. I know he is a local kid and is young, but his ceiling is high A at best. There is no need to continue running him out there.

The same goes for Christian Vazquez at second. Since Lugo’s promotion on the sixteenth to take over at short, Christian has played four games at second……ok, maybe that’s not too bad. Just fails the eye test as he doesn’t hit for any pop with a .235 slugging percentage and is not a great fielder, making a crucial error which led to the winning run last night. It’s not like the Canadians are rife with replacements so maybe I shouldn’t question this one as much.

Everett beat Spokane last night so, after all that analysis, we’re basically back to square one except that the C’s can no longer win the second half North division crown.

If tonight’s game is rained out second game will be added to tomorrow’s power-smart nooner.

Atkinson running in less injurious times (image courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

Atkinson running in less injurious times (image courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

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