AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stellar pitching leads AquaSox to series win

Everett starters allowed only 1 run over 30.2 innings pitched in their 6-game series with Tri-City.

One run.

The Everett AquaSox just completed a six-game road series against the Tri-City Dust Devils. Everett’s starting pitchers combined to throw 30.2 innings in those six games. And in those 30.2 innings they allowed only a single run.

Everett finished 4-2 in its final six-game series before the All-Star break, and it was the starting pitching that led the way to Everett’s first series win in more than a month.

“Front to back our guys were outstanding,” Everett manager Eric Farris said about his team’s rotation. “We got quality starts every single outing this week, which is absolutely outstanding. They did a really good job keeping guys off balance and the defense did a good job behind them. At the end of the day, they threw a lot of strikes, limited the free bases, and we got just enough on offense to get some Ws. That’s a tough place to hit, scoring not easy there, so it was a good series.

“We’re all teammates here, but guys compete against each other,” Farris added about the way the starters fed off one another. “When a starter has a good outing, you know the guy the next day is going to try and match it and be even better.”

Everett’s current five starters — Prelander Berroa, Logan Rinehart, Jimmy Joyce, Juan Mercedes and Bryce Miller — were all dealing last week. They combined to limit the Dust Devils to just 12 hits and eight walks, resulting in a WHIP of 0.66, and they recorded 43 strikeouts. The ERA calculates to a minuscule 0.30. The Sox even flirted with their second no-hitter of the season, taking a no-no into the seventh inning of Sunday’s finale, which Everett won 2-1.

Overall, Everett pitchers punched out 79 batters in the six games, good for 13.0 per nine innings.

“These guys got in good counts,” Farris explained about the high strikeout totals. “At the end of the day that’s what we preach. Being that we accumulated so many strikeouts to walks, guys got into good counts, they got two strikes early and had the ability to expand the zone. Even good hitters chase when you get ahead. That’s where we found ourselves a lot this week and it paid off.”

As a result Everett won its first series since sweeping Hillsboro in a six-game set on June 7-12. Since then the Sox had been all about the split, going 3-3 in four straight six-game series prior to the series win at Tri-City.

Despite the series win, Everett lost ground in the Northwest League standings. The Sox (12-9 second half, 43-43 overall) are now 2.5 games behind streaking Vancouver, which has won eight straight, in the second-half race. Everett needs to finish first in the second half in order to earn a playoff berth.

Players of the week

Hitter: Alberto Rodriguez. In a week in which there was lot more pitching than hitting for the Sox, Rodriguez was the best of the bunch. The 21-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic, who’s ranked by as the Mariners’ seventh-best prospect, batted .333 over the course of six games. Overall this season Rodriguez is batting a modest .256 with five home runs and 30 RBI in 77 games.

Pitcher: Berroa. In a week of tremendous starts (Joyce with 13 strikeouts in 5.2 scoreless innings, Miller with 10 Ks and no walks in six scoreless frames), Berroa stood head and shoulders above the rest. The 22-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic made two starts in which he combined to allow just one hit over nine scoreless innings, walking three and striking out 12.

The week ahead

Everett began a four-day break Monday for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The Northwest League has no All-Star events, so a handful of players are making quick trips home while the majority are sticking around town.

Following the break Everett plays a three-game home series against the Eugene Emeralds beginning Friday. The Emeralds, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants who already have a postseason berth after winning the first half of the season, are 11-10 in the second half (49-35 overall) and in third place in the league standings. The Sox are 7-8 against Eugene this season.

Eugene’s pitching staff has undergone tremendous turnover from the first half, with many of the team’s top starters and its closer now playing in Double-A. However, the team’s top two offensive threats, first baseman Carter Aldrete (.285, 15 homers, 52 RBI) and third baseman Casey Schmitt (.269, 15 homers, 49 RBI), remain. Meanwhile, prized prospect Marco Luciano, a shortstop who’s ranked as the No. 9 in all of baseball by, is still sidelined because of a lower-back strain.

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