Saturday night's 6-5 loss to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes may have been the most demoralizing for the Spokane Indians this season. The Indians have struggled to find their offense this season, but they gave a sold-out crowd at Avista Stadium a big lift in the seventh inning by scoring five runs to take a 5-2 advantage over the Volcanoes. Minutes later, S-K was torching Spokane's stellar bullpen for four runs and a 6-5 lead that held up. Spokane outhit the Volcanoes for a second consecutive night but was handed a third consecutive setback. Read story
What began as a superb pitching matchup ended with an offensive counterpunch.
Spokane's ace and All-Star Game selection David Ledbetter took a 3-1 record and 1.98 earned-run average into his ninth start against Salem-Keizer's Pat Young, who was making his third start. Young entered the evening with an ERA of 0.00 in 8 1/3 innings and kept his ERA intact with five scoreless innings. Young worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth with a called third strike on Brandon Garcia after Spokane's designated hitter had fouled off the two previous pitches.
Ledbetter also exited after five innings, trailing 2-0 because he had more trouble than usual finding the strike zone. Tyler Hollick scored both runs, in the first and third innings, after walks.
"(Ledbetter) didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he always finds a way to compete," Indians manager Tim Hulett said. "What really hurt him tonight was he walked the same guy (Hollick) ... and both times the guy scored. That’s unusual for him.
Brian Ragira lined Ledbetter's 58th pitch for a third-inning RBI double. Ledbetter had thrown 62 pitches after three innings and finished with 80 pitches, including 48 for strikes.
Ryne Slack and Mike Zouzalik threw one scoreless inning apiece to keep the score at 2-0 heading to the bottom of the seventh. Zouzalik also worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings the night before.
"We’re getting to this last half of the season and a guy like that we want to see what he can do in back-to-back nights," Hulett said. "You don’t use guys back-to-back very often."
Spokane's offensive outburst began against Jake Smith with consecutive singles by Evan Van Hoosier, Garcia and Joe Jackson, on a bunt that S-K catcher Eugene Escalante fielded near or on the foul line. Escalante and S-K manager Gary Davenport argued the fair call, but to no avail.
Jamie Jarmon walked on a 3-1 pitch from Smith for Spokane's first run. Davenport then summoned Steven Neff, who hadn't allowed an earned run in seven innings this season, but that didn't stop the Indians' charge. Eduard Pinto's grounder eluded third baseman Brandon Bednar and was deflected by shortstop John Polonius for a hit, error and two runs. After Gabe Roa popped out, Cam Schiller lined his club-leading 11th double to right-center to extend his hitting streak to eight games and score two more for a 5-2 lead.
Schiller's average has jumped from .203 to .227 during the strreak.
Neff escaped further trouble and actually posted the win when S-K knocked around Indians reliever Keone Kela for four runs on just two hits.
Daniel Slania worked a perfect eighth for the Volcanoes and Raymundo Montero followed with a perfect ninth for his 10th save, No. 2 in the league.
The Volcanoes clinched the season series over Spokane, having won six of nine with one left.