The Spokane Indians have won two consecutive Northwest League series, capping their latest success with a 2-1 squeaker over Eugene on Monday night at Avista Stadium. The Indians, coming off a three-game sweep of Tri-City, won four of five against the Emeralds. It was the second 4-1 series win of the season for Spokane over a team from the South Division, as the Indians dominated Boise in mid-June. The Indians have had more trouble in their North Division, not counting Tri-City, as Everett is 5-1 against Spokane and Vancouver is 4-2. Spokane is four games behind Everett and three in back of Vancouver with 13 games left in the first half of the season. Read story
The Northwest League season reached its one-third point on Monday night. Even if it can't catch Everett or Vancouver for the North Division first-half title, Spokane (14-11) has shown that it has enough pitching depth and key hitting to vie for the second-half spot to the postseason.
“If you had told me that at the beginning of the year I would have said, 'Boy, I don’t know. I don't quite see it,' ” Indians manager Tim Hulett said of the team's current 13-5 streak. “But the guys have really pulled it together. Every facet of the game, even when we make mistakes guys don’t drop their heads. They just keep playing. What a great identity for your club to have. … These guys have really come together and they’re a great team. I think that, overall, is good for a couple of runs a night. It keeps them in the game. They’re not blame-shifters. They take responsibility for missed plays and that’s why we’re winning.”
Spokane reliever Sam Wolff nearly ran into trouble in the eighth when Marcus Davis hit a one-out double just fair down the right-field line. Leadoff hitter Ronnie Richardson, who had punished Spokane pitching in the series, walked on a 3-2 curveball that just missed.
“I went at (Richardson) with a little bit of caution, trying to make good pitches and not make any mistakes with him,” Wolff said. “We had a base open at first, so it wasn’t a big deal that we put him on. And then after that it was go to work, get outs.”
Anthony Torres fouled off a 0-2 pitch before Wolff struck him out swinging for the second out. Fernando Perez was frozen on a 1-2 curveball to end the threat.
“It’s not just a 75 (mph curveball),” Hulett said. “It’s a nasty hook. It’s like a 12/6 hook. It’s late and it’s sharp.”
Hulett said Cody Ege, who pitched the ninth, and first baseman Kevin Torres took the initiative to pick off Wynton Bernard at first base to end the game. Hulett said he couldn't remember a pickoff ending one of his recent games as a manager.
“They did it on their own,” Hulett said. “(With a 3-2 count on batter Henry Charles), you know the guy’s going. .. He’s not trying to steal a base there. It was just a baserunning mistake in our favor and we’ll take it.”
Eugene also had solid pitching on Monday. When Ryan Cordell led off Spokane's eighth with a single to left field, it was the team's first hit since Alberto Triunfel's two-out RBI single in the third.
Monday's game took 2 hours, 49 minutes, by far the shortest game of the series. The other four lasted between 3:15 and 3:36.