SPOKANE, Wash. — The Dust Devils fell behind early when Adrian Martinez couldn’t find his rhythm and never were able to recover as they dropped their series opener 5-2.
Even as Martinez, 21, got the first two outs of the game, he struggled for feel, going eight pitches deep against leadoff man Julio Pablo Martinez. He then gave up back-to-back singles which, thanks to an ill-advised throw to third base by right fielder Aldemar Burgos, put two runners in scoring position.
Visibly rattled and out of tempo with his delivery, Martinez then went single, walk, single, walk before manager Mike McCoy came out with the hook.
When he’s on, the Mexicali native shows good extension and velocity on his fastball, a pitch that has helped the 2014 signee average well over a strikeout per inning since returning last year from Tommy John surgery. But he’s also struggled to find any consistency, so opponents have been able to sit on their pitches to hit better than .300 against him.
Martinez opened the season with Fort Wayne but allowed 40 runners to reach in only 17.1 innings before he was sent back to Peoria in mid-May.
Down 3-0 going into the second, the Devils quickly had a chance to get themselves back in it against lefty Jake Latz. Michael Curry laced a double off the left-center wall to open the frame and moved up when Olivier Basabe reached on an infield error. But Basabe got picked off as the trail runner on a mediocre move, and then compounded the mistake by not getting into a rundown situation that might have allowed Curry to break. Curry wound up stranded.
Tri-City didn’t get on the board until the fifth when Burgos turned on a fastball for a two-run homer over the 385 sign in the left field gap. The 21-year-old out of Puerto Rico has added plenty of muscle mass since the Padres selected him as a raw, wiry product of Carlos Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico in the 2015 draft.
Now back for his third campaign in the Northwest League, Burgos is providing top-of-the-order strength, batting .306/.366/.468, with 13 strikeouts in 70 trips to the plate.
With Martinez out of the game so early, the bullpen delivered in a big way, giving up only one earned run over 7.1 frames. Nick Kuzia stabilized things nicely, getting out of the first on one pitch and then working two more innings before giving way to ninth-rounder Steven Wilson. The 23-year-old product of Santa Clara, just back from filling a roster need in Lake Elsinore, allowed one run in his two frames.
Jose Galindo followed with a scoreless, two-strikeout inning. The El Paso native has given up a bit of velocity – his fastball was mostly 91-92 in his inning – and ferocity in his delivery to find more command. The big righty, coming more from up top than he has in the past, worked over the top of the Spokane lineup.
Dan Dallas followed with two dominating innings, once again wiping out opposing hitters. Working at a very fast – but not out of control – tempo, the lefty from Buffalo struck out five of the six hitters he faced. He’s struck out nearly half of the batters he’s faced so far this year, working multiple innings in each outing.
The 20-year-old has grown since signing as a seventh-rounder in 2016 and now showed as a mature-bodied lefty who spotted three pitches effectively Wednesday night.
After a three-pitch K to open his outing, Indians designated hitter Curtis Terry tried to disrupt Dallas’s rapid-fire pace by asking for time out as Dallas came set on each of his first two pitches. But the lefty was into his delivery so quickly that the umpire didn’t give it to him each time. Terry made a show of asking for time before the ball was even back in Dallas’s hand for the third pitch and holding it for a few extra beats, but Dallas didn’t relent and delivered as soon as the game was back in play. He ultimately froze Terry on a slider.
It seemed like Indians batters got a bit more comfortable with his fast pace and quick delivery in the second frame, but his pitches more than stood up even as timing settled in.
Grant Little had singles in each of his first two at-bats and swiped a base with a good jump against the lefty in the first. With Reinaldo Ilarraza on first in the fifth, he tried to pepper the short right field porch – posted as 298 at the foul pole – but came up just short on a flyout. He looked to be late on fastballs a handful of times on the evening but has used his quick wrists to open his professional career with a .400 average through his first four games. He showed nice range in both directions playing center for the Devils and delivered a strike on the only throw he had to make in the game.
Former Padres farmhand Emmanuel Clase finished off the Devils with a quick ninth inning. The 20-year-old righty, traded for Brett Nicholas early this season, was working in the upper-90s to get a pair of strikeouts and the save.