SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- On the verge of ending their Arizona Fall League season-opening seven-game losing streak, the Glendale Desert Dogs instead suffered their eighth straight loss in excruciating fashion Thursday night.Leading 1-0 with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Salt River
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- On the verge of ending their Arizona Fall League season-opening seven-game losing streak, the Glendale Desert Dogs instead suffered their eighth straight loss in excruciating fashion Thursday night.
Leading 1-0 with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Salt River Rafters, right-hander Kyle Zurak induced a tailor-made double-play grounder from Jaylin Davis (Twins). Shortstop Thairo Estrada relayed the ball to second baseman Errol Robinson (Dodgers), who couldn't get the ball cleanly out of his glove before making a hasty throw to first baseman Jared Walker (Dodgers), who dropped it as the tying run scored. Zurak took the mound and immediately balked home Carter Kieboom (Nationals) with the winning run.
2018 Arizona Fall League rosters
After losing on extra-winning walkoffs on consecutive nights, the Desert Dogs are one loss short of the worst start in Fall League history (0-9 by the 2007 Scottsdale Scorpions) and two shy of the longest losing streak (10 by the 2008 Rafters). At 5-3, Salt River is in a three-way tie for first place in the East Division and in a four-way tie for the best record in the league.
Rafters right-hander Jon Duplantier (D-backs) turned in the most impressive prospect performance, striking out five of the 10 batters he faced in the first three innings while allowing just one hit. He pounded the zone with 29 strikes in 44 pitches while dealing at 95-96 mph with his fastball. He recorded three of his whiffs with his curveball, which ranged from 81-84 mph, one with his slider, which he threw at 86-88, and one with his heater.
"I had a little bit of everything but it was mainly fastball command," Duplantier said. "At times it was a little bit shaky, but I think the best thing for me was my sinker to my arm side. I was getting away from the lefties, which I usually have trouble with, and in to righties, set up sliders, set up changeups, kind of everything played off of that. And my velocity ticked up some, so I was getting swing-and-misses on that."
Ranked as Arizona's top prospect by MLB Pipeline, Duplantier worked just 16 starts and 74 innings this season while missing two months with a tired arm. The 2016 third-round pick from Rice has a 1.79 ERA with 245 strikeouts in 211 innings, but also comes with health concerns after having shoulder and elbow issues in the past.
Duplantier said his arm feels as good as it has all season. He's not only making up for some lost innings, but he's also working on some adjustments as well.
"A couple of mechanical things, staying back on my back side, not rushing, kind of small mechanical tweaks that will help me get out front, drive the ball down in the zone or wherever I want it to be," Duplantier said. "And then a couple of pitch issue things. Other than that, get extra innings to make up for time missed and stay healthy."
Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers), one of the game's best catching prospects, looked like he would be the hero who would deliver Glendale's first victory. He smoked an RBI double in the 10th off right-hander Kevin Ginkel (D-backs) to snap the scoreless tie and improve his AFL line to .333/.412/.400.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.