The Spokane Indians managed just two runs and 14 hits during a three-game home series against the Vancouver Canadians this week, but they avoided disaster by winning Thursday's series finale 2-1 at Avista Stadium. Starter Kyle Castro and relievers Ryne Slack and Mike Zouzalik held Vancouver to five hits, including two infield singles. The victory allowed the Indians to avoid a 0-3 start to the second half of the Northwest League season. As it is, Spokane only trails Vancouver and Everett by one game in the North Division as it travels to Boise for a five-game series that begins Friday. Spokane has won four consecutive games against Boise and is 4-1 against the Hawks this season. Read story
Kyle Castro was the big story on Thursday, as he wiped away three consecutive subpar starts to outduel previously unbeaten Eric Brown.
"Kyle has struggled his last few outings, but today he really put it together for us," Indians manager Tim Hulett said. "He gave us some innings and, of course, the relief guys have been doing it all week long. … We got to (Brown) early, before he really settled in."
Castro said he relished pitching against Brown.
"That’s what I love, the competition," Castro said. "It’s more fun to get out there and pitch against someone like that."
First Indians reliever Ryne Slack allowed two hits, struck out five and walked none in three innings. Slack retired seven consecutive Canadians during one stretch, including perfect seventh and eighth innings. Mike Zouzalik made it 10 straight set down by working a perfect ninth for his team-leading fourth save.
Vancouver and Spokane have played three three-game series, each won by the Canadians 2-1. Their final three-game set will start Aug. 24 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Canadians' league-leading team earned-run average dropped from 2.94 to 2.90 despite the loss. Spokane pitchers increased their league-leading strikeout total to 387.
Spokane is still hitting .219, eighth and last in the league.
"We go through spells where we don’t score a lot of runs and we need our staff to keep the game close," Hulett said. "The offense will come around. They’ll get hot again."
Spokane improved to to 12-10 at home. The Indians have just 16 home games left, starting Wednesday with a five-game series against Salem-Keizer, the South Division's first-half champion. The Volcanoes are 3-2 against Spokane this season.