Everett AquaSox beDeviled by Tri-Cities’ dust

Yeah, I went there…

After spending the morning recovering from last night and watching the Yankees pummel the Mariners, I got in the car and took the drive to Everett to meet up with Conor and check out batting practice, which was already underway by the time we walked onto the grounds of Everett Memorial. Clouds over the mountains east of the city threatened rain, but batting practice went off in the driest manner possible. I decided on the way up that I’d take a different approach to writing this, which is to do it as things progress, rather than my normal method, which is running a draft and then inserting photos later. Hopefully it works…

As we set up in the booth, the guys were going through a series of speed tests in left field, something I’ve never seen before in person. That’s Steve Baron being put through the paces:

The cage was set up, and the guys took the field. The regimen was different this time than last, but still just as entertaining. Willy Kesler, wearing his number 35, took some hacks and some tosses off the hill, and spent a lot of time biting his nails while waiting his turn:

Much like the Volcanoes’ BP, the Dust Devils didn’t seem to have a great discipline for pre-game practice. This could be me having seen the Sox do their pre-game warmups on the field a few times and noticing how well-managed and fluid it is, or it could be personal bias, I don’t know. But the Devils just didn’t seem that into it. After the Sox had vacated the field, rather than get right to the business of working out, the Devils stood around in a circle for about 5-10 minutes doing this:

I don’t know, either.

A little more waiting, a trip to the team store to pick up a first-half champions t-shirt and AquaSox scarf (I’ve become a massive sucker for team scarves), a visit to the Dippin’ Dots stand (even though it’s been far too cold for ice cream today), and the game got underway.

The Devils came out of the gate hard, with centerfielder leadoff man Nathan Hines hitting a triple over the ‘Sox bullpen dirt that left fielder Kalian Sams could not get to in time. Hines was out at the plate in a dramatic flush of dust and catcher’s gear, robbing the Devils of what might have been their first run, had Steve Baron been Rob Johnson. The AquaSox half of the first inning went quickly and without hits. Devils’ pitcher ERik Stavert worked quickly and efficiently, aided by an umpire whose strike zone was apparently rather small. Sox second baseman Terry Serrano could have helped his case by not swinging at the first two pitches thrown at him, as Stavert then drilled one right down the middle that Serrano didn’t even twitch at, getting himself called out on strikes.

The top of the second saw the Devils hitting just as hard, with their final out being a line drive right back to Sox pitcher Edlando Seco, which he easily gloved, then turned into a double play to end the half. Kevin Rivers started off the Sox second by hitting a double out to right field, making an elegant sliding stand onto the bag, with time to spare before the ball made it back to Devils second baseman Joseph Scott. Rivers didn’t survive that inning, however, getting caught out while attempting to steal third.  Kalian Sams would suffer the same fate as Serrano the inning before him, getting called out on strikes while waiting to swing.

Seco started to lose his control a bit in the third inning, walking designated hitter and 8th-slotted Chad Jacobsen. Jospeh Scott advanced Jacobsen with a sacrifice out at first, and Seco gave up a single to Nathan Hines on a questionable call by the infield umpire; Jacobsen moved to third.

Seco didn’t allow any runs that inning, but he was far too close to doing exactly that for comfort; Jacobsen was stranded at third on a double play. The Sox half of the inning was quick, and outside of a Anthony Phillips double, not terribly eventful.

For his first trick in the top of the 4th, Seco gave up a home run to Devils’ third baseman Dominic Altobelli. Mark Tracy did not have any luck with Seco, and struck out swinging. So did Jeremiah Sammy. Chad Jacobsen grounded out to first to finalize the Devils’ side. With one out for the ‘Sox, Kevin Mailloux took a 90MPH fastball to the upper ribs that took him down pretty hard. Not a fun way to get a base.

The event must have shaken Stavert a bit, because he gave Kevin Rivers a walk, too. With the two runners on and Hawkins Gebbers coming up to DH, the Devils had a conference on the mound. Gebbers was able to get his bat on the ball, but the hit was easily caught in left field by the Devils’ Nathan Hines. With Kalian Sams up to bat, Stavert hit him with what looked like it could have been an intentional 79MPH pitch to the left leg. Sams was not pleased and a few seconds after he recovered from the shock, was having words with Stavert, the home plate umpire attempting to stand between the two men. The crowd started going nuts, and both benches cleared into the middle of the diamond:

No punches were thrown, it was all only words, and was over about as soon as it started. Sams was assisted to first by a teammate, kept away from any possible battle.

The inning continued, and the AquaSox came away empty-handed. But with two players hit in one inning, I was hoping for either some revenge from Seco, or some offense from everyone else. But Seco wound up putting two Devils on base instead. He then gave up a left field hit to Bryce Massanari that just escaped the grasp of Mailloux and made it to the outfield, sending those two runners in. It’s funny, I used to think the whole HBP revenge thing was childish, but I have come to understand that it is a necessary part of the game. Seco wouldn’t have the chance for payback, however, and was pulled in favor of reliever Eric Thomas.

With one out, Anthony Phillips took Stavert for a double into center field. Robbie Anston took one for the team, and sacrificed himself to advance Phillips to third, and Terry Serrano ruined everything by lining out to first.

In the top of the 6th, Thomas was able to mete out a little vengeance for his teammates off the side of Mark Tracy, who took his base. The sound of the ball hitting Tracy’s side sounded painful, but it didn’t double him over or seem to cause him any hardship. My verdict is, Thomas didn’t throw quite hard enough.

With Mailloux taken out of the game and presumably having his injuries looked at, Fred Bello had taken over his position at third. Bello, if anyone remembers from the last time I was up here, has been responsible for back-to-back inside-the-parkers this season. I was hoping for more of that sort of thing tonight. Bello is not what one thinks of when the words “baseball player” come to mind. At 5’10”, he’s barely taller than I am – and after having been on level ground and in close proximity of him during our last visit up here, I think 5’10” is a bit generous. I was hoping for some more heroics, but Bello struck out. Also in the  bottom of the 6th, Kalian Sams had to face Stavert again. Sams was more calculated and patient this time, and waited for Stavert to throw a wild pitch that advanced Steve Baron to third – but he was less patient with the next throw, swinging hard and missing to send the game into the 7th inning.

Nathan Hines was the first up, and lined out to short. Chandler Laurent faced Eric Thomas and wound up with a double. Bryce Massanari was next up, and this is when Thomas decided to dole out punishment, throwing up and in and hitting Massanari on the wrist. The home plate umpire didn’t appreciate this one, and immediately tossed Thomas from the game. This was alright with me, as it meant that I’d get to see Willy Kesler do a bit of throwing in what was quickly becoming a meaningless but violent game.

Arguing continued, Sox manager Jose Moreno was also thrown out of the game, and Kesler ran in to the strains of “Spirit in the Sky” to take his warmup tosses while the row was finalized. It was around this point in time that my camera decided that it didn’t want to take night shots anymore, so no photos of Kesler were to be had at this point in the game. While the Sox batted and Stavert continued to pitch (and walk Anthony Phillips), I messed around with my settings. Stavert was removed from the hill immediately after walking Phillips in the bottom of the 7th, and replaced by Ricky Testa.

Evan Sharpley takes a ball:

With headhunter Stavert out of the game, I thought maybe we’d see some sweet come-from-behind action. Knowing you have to face someone who has no qualms about hurting you has to get into your head.  With Anthony Phillips on base, Robbie Anston took a chunk of triple and a run out of Testa. Phillips was declared safe at the plate, and Anston made his triple safely as well, despite it being a close play. Terry Serrano then hit a decent single, and Anston went home. Score 4-2. Fred Bello lined out to short, but I was hoping that enough damage was done to help us get some work done over the next two innings.

Kesler was back in the 8th, but my camera was still being cranky. For some reason tonight it was honing its focus on the net rather than what was in back of it. I managed this shot of Kesler on a fairly high ISO as he kept the Devils at bay, but this was the best one I got:

Testa was on the hill again for our half of the 8th, and Hawkins Gebbers took him to second base. Kalian Sams struck out swinging. Evan Sharpley lined out – sharply – to right field. Testa was not letting us get away with any shenanigans.

Jorden Merry took relief duty in the top of the 9th, and dealt with his Dust Devils easily. He’s also got a very Jarrod Washburn-esque wind up:

Brad McAtee – I can only assume this was their closer – rode the bump for Tri-Cities in the bottom of the 9th.  He gave up a single to Anthony Phillips, and then a single to Robbie Anston, who arrived on base safely while Phillips was taken out at second. Terry Serrano was our last hope, but flew out to left field to end the game, the first loss I’ve seen in person for the AquaSox.

Tomorrow is Mariners Day for Everett, and Dan Wilson will be on hand for autographs and first-pitch throwing-out. Would be a lot of fun, but I have a Mariners/Yankees game to watch, and possibly some yard work to do, either ours or making good on my season ticket agreement.  Conor may come back up here this coming Monday to see Anthony Fernandez pitch, and there will likely be something over at ProBallNW after he does. For now, good night and cheers, folks. Enjoy your weekend.

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