The Spokane Indians don't have to worry about qualifying for the Northwest League playoffs, as they took care of that by winning the North Division first-half title. But the Indians will definitely have a say in what two teams join Spokane and South Division first-half champion Hillsboro in the best-of-3 divisional round, which begins Tuesday. Read story
By starting 2-0 in the five-game series against Salem-Keizer, the final regular-season series at Avista Stadium this summer, the Indians have already damaged the Volcanoes' playoff chances.
When the series began, Salem-Keizer had a shot to make postseason in two possible ways — as South second-half champion or as the South team with the next-best record to Hillsboro if the Hops won a second-half title to go with the first-half title they won.
The Volcanoes lost Monday's game 4-3 when Fernando Vivili hit a two-out, two-strike, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth. They dropped Tuesday's game 10-5 after leading 5-0 through 3 1/2 innings. That left S-K three games behind Hillsboro, with six to play, in the chase for the second-half title, and two games behind Boise in the chase for the second-best overall record.
Spokane could knock S-K out of both races by the time the five-game series ends Friday.
The Indians will also have a big say in what team they meet in the divisional series. Vancouver and Tri-City are tied for first place at 16-16 in the North second-half race. Spokane completes the regular season with three games at Vancouver while Tri-City hosts Everett, which is two games behind the co-leaders.
“Going into Vancouver, we may have a big effect,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “It’s one of those things where you want to get yourself ready, but you also want to go in winning games. There’s something to momentum, even though it doesn’t seem like it in baseball.”
The Indians will open the playoffs on the road Tuesday, and host Game 2 (and Game 3, if necessary) on Sept. 3 and 4.
“(Monday) night was a big turnaround for us,” Indians outfielder Luke Tendler said. “We knew it was time to get hot before the playoffs.”
The Indians had lost nine of 11 games, including six straight, before starting their current three-game winning streak. They've scored 21 games in the last three nights after being held to three runs or less in seven of their previous nine games.