Wipe the slate clean, the second half of the Northwest League baseball season has arrived. The Spokane Indians and Vancouver Canadians are in the same boat, trying to join North Division first-half champion Everett in the postseason. To do so, Spokane, Vancouver (or Tri-City) would either have to win the second-half crown or have the best overall record for the season if Everett also takes the second-half title. The challenge began Tuesday at Avista Stadium, and Vancouver took the first small step with a 2-0 win over Spokane. The Canadians are 5-2 against the Indians this season. The teams will also meet Wednesday and Thursday. Read story
The series will match the team with the league's best team earned-run average, Vancouver, and the team with the league's worst team batting average, Spokane. After Tuesday's game, the Canadians' ERA dropped to 3.01 and the Indians' batting average fell from .223 to .220.
"We’ve battled here in the second half of the first half (of the season), just trying to find out our identity and who we are as a team," Indians manager Tim Hulett said. "I think these guys have done that. They did it again tonight. We got nothing offensively and still had a chance to tie the game with the last at-bat of the game. That’s just who we are. We’ve played that way all year and that’s probably how we’ll continue to play."
Spokane suffered its third shutout of the season and its second against Vancouver.
Indians starter Kelvin Vasquez, who struck out eight in six innings during his last start, never found his control on Tuesday. Vasquez had thrown 50 pitches after two innings, 27 for balls, and had gone to 3-2 counts on four of the first 10 batters he faced. After three innings, he had thrown 69 pitches.
The scoreless game ended when Canadians designated hitter Andy Fermin singled to center field with one out in the fifth off Abel De Los Santos. One out later, Mike Reeves lined a double to right-center. Indians second baseman Evan Van Hoosier took the relay and hurried his throw to the plate to try to get Fermin. Van Hoosier may have had more time than he thought to make the throw, which went too high to catcher Kevin Torres.
"It didn’t look like (Van Hoosier) got a great grip on the relay throw and it sailed on him," Hulett said. "It looked like we had a really good shot at getting (Fermin). When your back’s to home plate, you’re not really sure how quick you have to turn and throw."
The Indians didn't get a runner to second base until the sixth inning, when Joe Jackson reached on a leadoff throwing error by shortstop Dickie Thon and advanced on a one-out ground out.
Torres also reached second in the seventh on a two-out double to left-center that center fielder Chaz Frank momentarily had in his glove. The double extended Torres' hitting streak to eight games.
No Indians base runner reached beyond second.