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Indians endure second consecutive shutout

True Spokane Indians fans may remember that their team lost its first two (eventually three) games of the Northwest League baseball season. Spokane is also 0-2 to start the second half of the season, but this beginning is a bit more concerning. The Indians began their 2013 campaign with back-to-back 6-4 losses to Everett, which ultimately won the first-half title. Spokane has started the second half with consecutive 2-0 losses to Vancouver. The Canadians have allowed just eight hits in the 18 innings and just one Indians base runner has reached third base. Read story

The Indians' team batting average, last in the Northwest League, slipped to .219 on Wednesday. Vancouver pitching should get a big share of the credit. Canadians starters have worked into at least the fifth inning in 35 of 40 games this season. Indians starters have made it at least five innings just 10 times.

Of course, Spokane batters have to accept some of the responsibility for the back-to-back blankings.

"Outside of two opportunities we didn’t have a guy in scoring position, so we have to have better at-bats," Indians manager Tim Hulett said. "It’s one thing to get shut out, it’s another thing to kind of give at-bats away."

Vancouver pitchers have relied on off-speed pitches to get ground outs during the series. The Canadians have struck out eight batters during the first two games while Spokane pitchers have fanned 26 to increase their league-leading total to 377.

"A lot of those balls that are put in play are put in play on off-speed pitches, and we didn’t square up a lot of balls tonight," Hulett said.

First-round draft selection Alex Gonzalez has struggled this season,  but the Indians starter breezed through three innings, allowing two singles and striking out three. Eric Brooks followed and struck out six in four innings, but took the loss after giving up two earned runs in the sixth on a walk, double and single.

"Gonzalez had a really good outing," Hulett said. "He pounded the strike zone a lot better and really commanded his slider. It was probably the best outing he’s had all year. 'Brooksy' came in and had a good outing as well, except for one inning. He hung a couple of breaking balls to lefties and they got big hits off them."

Indians batting leader Kevin Torres (.296) went 0 for 4 and had his eight-game hitting streak snapped.

Vancouver is 6-2 against Spokane this season.

The Indians have dropped five of their last seven games, averaging two runs per game in those setbacks.

The Indians will continue to try to generate runs by stealing bases. Chris Garia (16) and Ryan Cordell (14) are running 1-2 in stolen bases in the NWL. Garia also leads the league in runs (27) and triples (four), and  is tied for second in total bases (65).

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Chris Derrick
Chris Derrick joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. He currently is a copy editor for the Sports Desk.

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