Vancouver Canadians start strong on opening day, but finish fails them in shutout loss to Tri-City

Six-game set in Pasco, Wash., continues Wednesday and Vancouver has home opener in temporary Hillsboro, Ore., home base next Tuesday

The beginning of the Vancouver Canadians’ opening day looked promising.

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Back-to-back walks with one out in the first inning against the host Tri-City Dust Devils brought the heart of the Vancouver batting order to the plate with a chance at grabbing the game’s momentum at Gesa Stadium in Pasco, Wash., on Tuesday evening.

A strikeout and a groundout ended the frame and provided foreshadowing for the entire night, as Vancouver was blanked 4-0 by Tri-City to begin the high-A West League season.

The six-game series between the C’s, who are a Toronto Blue Jays farm club, and Dust Devils, who are a Los Angeles Angels affiliate, continues in Pasco on Wednesday (6:30 p.m., Sportsnet 650).

Due to border restrictions brought about by COVID-19, Vancouver is playing home games out of Ron Tonkin Field, a Hillsboro, Ore., ballpark being shared with the West League rival Hillsboro Hops. The C’s Hillsboro home opener is next Tuesday against the Spokane Indians.

In their season kick-off against the Dust Devils, the C’s could muster only four hits versus four Dust Devils hurlers. It was a sloppy affair, with the teams combining for 22 strikeouts and 15 walks in a contest that lasted three hours, eight minutes. Attendance was listed at 1,053. Current Washington state restrictions allow for 25 capacity. 

Luke Gillingham, who came on in the fourth in relief of starter Adam Kloffenstein, took the loss. He loaded the bases in the fifth on two walks and a single, and, with two outs, a pair of runs came home on an error by first sacker Spencer Horwitz on a grounder off the bat of Tri-City’s Francisco Del Valle.

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Brendon Davis added insurance for Tri-City in the sixth with a two-run home run off Vancouver reliever Andrew McInvale.
Kloffenstein, a 20-year-old right-hander, is the top Toronto prospect on the C’s, according to The site lists him as the Blue Jays’ No. 9 prospect going into the season.

In three and two-thirds innings on Tuesday, he allowed three hits while walking four and striking out three. Kloffenstein, who was Toronto’s third-round pick in the 2018 amateur draft out of a Magnolia, Texas, high school, is one of 19 players on Vancouver’s 30-man opening-day roster who played previously for the C’s. He was a part of their 2019 team.

Minor league baseball was cancelled in its entirety last summer.

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