The Vancouver Canadians started off game two behind the 8-ball with starter Dalton Rodriguez on the bump, making his debut in short season after spending the last two years in Bluefield.
After allowing a fly-ball hit in the first inning, Rodriguez allowed a double to Chicago native Darius Day that brought home the Indians' first run. The following inning, Rodriguez's spotty control allowed the Indians to claim a 2-0 lead on a wild pitch.
Those who are familiar with Rodriguez know this side of him all too well. If Rodriguez is going to develop himself into a legitimate prospect, he's going to have to learn to command his arsenal effectively. In 41 innings last season, Rodriguez struck out 28 while walking nearly as many at 20. On Saturday evening, despite the record showing only one walk with two strike outs, Rodriguez really should be credited with two walks. His hit-by-pitch in the game was on a 3-0 count so it's no doubt it would have been ball four even if it hadn't hit the batter.
By night's end, he would pitch four innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and strikeouts. He gave way to Matt Smoral, 2012 first-round draft pick of the Blue Jays. Smoral worked effectively in his inning and two-thirds of work, incorporating an effective slider with a change-up and fastball. He said that his new arm slot--which has dropped from his previous arm slot--allows him to get more movement on all his pitches while also hiding the ball a little better as a left-handed pitcher.
Smoral allowed one run during his outing on just one hit while walking out two and striking out three. Coach John Tamargo Jr. said he was impressed with Smoral's first outing taking on the reliever's role in the Canadians bullpen.
"I thought he was tremendous tonight," Tamargo said. "He was throwing fastballs and sliders for strikes, he did a great job. He did well the last few outings he had out at Extended and he's carried it out here."
Gabe Noyalis and Grayson Hoffman took over for Smoral to close out the game but even strong outings from the duo weren't enough to put runs on the board. The Canadians mustered just three hits on the evening, all singles, with a few walks mixed in. Tamargo said it was an effective approach from the opposition that stymied their offence.
"I thought we swung the bats well early," he said. "Their pitcher made the good adjustment throwing off-speed pitches early in the count and threw for strikes so he did a nice job."
The Canadians ended up losing the game by a final score of 5-0. Juliandry Higuera will get the ball on Sunday in the rubber match as the Canadians look to take the first series of the season against the Spokane Indians. First pitch is set for 3:30.