When Leon Hunter caught Jose Guzman looking for the game-ending strikeout last Wednesday, it represented a new high-water mark for success in Everett minor-league baseball history.
Last Wednesday at Funko Field the Everett AquaSox defeated the Tri-City Dust Devils 5-2 for their ninth straight victory. It’s the longest winning streak by an Everett team since the franchise entered the Northwest League as the Everett Giants in 1984.
“It’s always fun getting Ws, and we were kind of able to build a little momentum over the course of the week,” Everett manager Eric Farris said. “Before you knew it, it turned out to be nine. Overall there was a lot of good energy over those handful of days, and obviously we played well to get some wins. It’s always fun to be part of any streak, even a streak of one, but running nine is a good time, especially when we needed it after a couple tough series.”
Everett had achieved eight-game winning streaks three times in the past, once as the Giants in 1985 and twice as the AquaSox in 2010 and 2021. The Sox matched that record last Tuesday by grabbing an early lead and then holding on late to beat the Dust Devils 5-4 in the series opener. Everett then eclipsed it the next night as Andy Thomas’ two-run home run in the sixth inning broke a 2-2 tie and stood up as the game-winning runs.
The winning streak began with a victory in the final game of Everett’s home series against Eugene on June 5. The Sox followed by sweeping a six-game series at Hillsboro before taking the first two game against Tri-City to establish a new mark.
“We got some really good efforts from our pitching staff,” Farris said about what sparked the streak. “The bullpen has been really good lately, they’ve been getting ahead of hitters, throwing strikes and getting outs in high-leverage situations. To have streaks like that you need good pitching. Our bats got the hits we needed, our pitchers held the line and we played good defense as well. All-around it was a good effort the last couple weeks.”
Alas, the streak finally came to an end last Thursday with a 10-4 loss to the Dust Devils. But the winning streak did wonders for Everett’s position in the standings. The Sox were 20-29 and mired in last place in the league standings before the streak began. Now Everett finds itself 30-32 and in third place in the six-team Northwest League, 6.5 games behind league-leading Eugene.
Players of the week
Hitter: Dariel Gomez. The 25-year-old first baseman from the Dominican Republic appeared in five games last week, batting .412 with two doubles, one home run and five RBI. He continues to be one of the league’s top power hitters as he’s tied with Vancouver’s Addison Barger for the league lead in homers with 12.
Pitcher: Isaiah Campbell. While Juan Mercedes and Prelander Berroa continue to throw up zeroes as starters, Campbell has settled well into his new role as a closer. The 24-year-old right-hander, who was selected in the second round of the 2019 draft, began the season in the starting rotation before being shut down because of elbow soreness. Since returning in early June he’s been used exclusively out of the bullpen, and last week he notched a pair of saves, tossing one perfect inning in both instances. He’s picked up saves in each of his last three outings.
The week ahead
Everett begins a stretch of two straight weeks on the road with a six-game series at Spokane beginning Tuesday. The Indians, who are an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, are 32-29 and in second place in the Northwest League, 4.0 games behind Eugene and 2.5 games ahead of Everett. Spokane holds a 7-5 lead in the head-to-head series.
Spokane is the league’s highest-scoring team at 4.87 runs per game, and a pair of big-time prospects lead the way. Five-tool outfielder Zac Veen (.258, eight homers, 36 RBI, 24 stolen bases in 25 attempts), who was taken ninth overall in the 2020 draft, is listed by MLB.com as Colorado’s No. 1 prospect and No. 29 in all of baseball. Catcher Drew Romo (.297, five homers, 39 RBI, 11 steals) is listed as the Rockies’ No. 2 prospect an 89th overall, with his defensive skills behind the plate being particularly well regarded.
The Indians have one of the league’s top relief pitchers in right-hander Luke Taggart (2.12 ERA, seven walks and 42 strikeouts in 31 innings, five saves).