The Northwest League regular season is down to one week and seven games. First-half champions Spokane of the North Division and Hillsboro of the South know that they'll open best-of-3 divisional series on Sept. 2, but their opponents are still unclear. Read story
The South Division's other playoff team will likely be decided before the North's. After Salem-Keizer's heartbreaking loss to Spokane on Monday, Hillsboro (21-10) is three games ahead of the Volcanoes (18-13) in the second-half standings. If Hillsboro hold on to add the second-half title to the one it won in the first half, the team with the next-best overall record advances to postseason. Boise (38-31) defeated Everett on Monday to extend its lead over Salem-Keizer (36-33) to two games.
Much can change in seven days, of course, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Indians could take the field on Monday, Labor Day, for their regular-season finale at Vancouver and still not know their playoff opponent. Vancouver won and Tri-City lost on Monday, leaving both with 15-16 records and tied for first place in the second-half standings. Everett (13-18) is two games back and Spokane (12-19) three. Spokane ends its season with three games at Vancouver while Tri-City hosts Everett for three. Vancouver would advance with the best overall record if Spokane somehow leapfrogged all three teams and also won the second-half title.
Monday's surprising win allowed the Indians to win consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 10-11.
“We’re not playing as well as we did the first half, but we won (Sunday) and today was a great win,” Indians coach Salomon Manriquez said. “We’d like to get to the playoffs with a winning streak. … It’s normal that you have up-and-down times in baseball. Right now we’re kind of down, but I think we’re going up again.”
The Indians limited starter Nick Gardewine to five innings and 76 pitches. Spokane plans to use a three-man starting rotation for the playoffs, and Gardewine, Richelson Pena and Derek Thompson are the top candidates.
Salem-Keizer stuck with starter Jason Forjet through seven innings, but he had only thrown 59 pitches through five.
“I don’t know their deal because they haven’t made (postseason) yet, so they’re going to keep (Forjet) out there as much as possible,” Manriquez said. “He threw a good game, too. Our pitcher kept us in the game and then we were able to come back.”
Indians second baseman Josh Morgan suffered a bloody nose in the first inning while covering second base on Johneshwy Fargas' successful steal. Morgan stayed in the game.
Spokane hopes to have outfielder Pepe Cardona (concussion) back soon. He's been out since Aug. 13.