Most people around these parts had a better night than the Spokane Indians. Yes, the Indians pounded out 17 hits and scored 12 runs against the Tri-City Dust Devils on Monday night. But the Dust Devils played their blackjack hand by collecting 19 hits and scoring 21 runs in a Northwest League game that played havoc with pitchers' earned-run averages. Read story
The atmosphere at Avista Stadium has been mostly kind to the Indians this summer, but Monday's whipping at the hands of Tri-City brought out the boo-birds and something worse: a mock cheer in the top of the fifth inning after Spokane finally recorded an out.
Before Sean Dwyer's strikeout elicited the mock cheer, the first seven Dust Devils batters of the inning reached base. Ryan Garvey had a two-run double and Shane Hoelscher mashed a two-run triple, but the Indians deserved the blame for much of the damage. Chris Dula, who relieved for Andrew Barnett (4-3) after Spokane's starter encountered a mess of trouble in the third, had struck out four consecutive batters, including the side in the fourth, when he became unhinged by wildness. Dula opened the fifth with a hit batter and two walks, starting a deluge that ended with 11 batters coming to the plate and seven runs scoring for a 16-4 Tri-City lead.
Spokane batted around during a seven-run sixth to cut the Dust Devils' lead to 16-12. Juremi Profar had the big hit, a two-run double to left, and two walks and an error aided the rally.
But the glimmer of hope was extinguished when Miguel Dilone continued his near record-breaking day with a three-run homer off Ryan Ledbetter in the seventh for a 19-12 lead. Dilone finished 3 for 4 with four runs and eight RBIs, one short of the league record set by Spokane's Brandon Cashman when he hit four homers against Everett in June 2004.
The Indians had their hitting stars, with Seth Spivey finishing 4 for 5 with three runs to boost his average to .341, second in the league to teammate Eduard Pinto (.350). Profar doubled twice and had three RBIs and Isiah Kiner-Falefa went 3 for 5 with three RBIs.
“It’s good to see Spivey get four hits,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “He’d been kind of struggling a little bit.”
But Spokane's pitching experienced a night of woe. Barnett allowed seven hits and eight earned runs in two-plus innings; Dula allowed four earned runs in two innings; Kevin Matthews gave up three hits and four earned runs in one inning; Ledbetter allowed five hits and three earned runs in two innings; and Reed Garrett worked the ninth to give up two hits and two earned runs.
Hulett, however, said it wasn't time to panic about the pitching staff, which has dropped to fourth in the league in team ERA (4.22).
“We’ve had some changes where guys who are usually throwing in the pen are piggy-backing, so when those guys are pitching out of the pen, we’re a lot tougher out there,” Hulett said. “When we get to the playoffs, we’ll be down to three starters and those guys will go back to the pen and we’ll use guys differently. These guys need to get their work in, pitch in meaningful games and kind of hone their craft.”
Hulett also said that Indians outfielder Luke Tendler will likely miss four or five game with a sprained ankle suffered in Sunday's game.
The Indians return home Monday for a five-game series with Salem-Keizer that will complete their regular-season home schedule at Avista. After that, the Indians will host at least Game 2 of the best-of-3 North divisional series on Sept. 3 and could have two other home playoff games in the days after that.