The Spokane Indians will wrap up their Northwest League regular-season home schedule Friday with the final game of a five-game set against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The Indians will cap the regular season with three games at Vancouver, starting Saturday. Wasting no time, they'll play Game 1 of the NWL North's best-of-3 divisional series Tuesday on the road. WHERE on the road remains a mystery with four games left in the regular season. Read story
The race for the North Division's second-half title -- and the opportunity to meet Spokane in the playoffs -- tightened Thursday when Vancouver lost to Eugene, Tri-City defeated Hillsboro and Everett topped Boise. Vancouver and Tri-City, both 17-17, lead Everett (15-19) by two games with four to play. Although Everett would have to beat the odds to win the second-half title, the AquaSox have a shot because they end the season with three games at Tri-City while Vancouver hosts Spokane.
Spokane is 6-3 against Vancouver this season and will be in a strange situation for its final series. The Indians (39-33) may prefer to knock Vancouver out of postseason because the Canadians have the division's best overall record at 42-30 and might be the most formidable opponent. But for travel reasons, it would be easier for Spokane to stay in Vancouver for Tuesday's playoff game after Monday's regular-season finale.
Vancouver holds an important edge over Tri-City -- the tiebreaker if the teams finish with the same second-half record. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head records for the second half. That's a wash because the teams split six games. But the second tiebreaker is head-to-head records for the entire season. The Canadians are 8-4 against Tri-City this year.
Wherever Spokane plays Game 1, the second game is the following night (Wednesday) at Avista Stadium. Game 3, if necessary, would also be at Avista.
The Indians may be missing one crucial ingredient for the postseason. Reliever and NWL All-Star Shane McCain (2-0, 0.31 ERA for 28 2/3 innings) strained his oblique muscle on Aug. 20 during Spokane's trip to Hillsboro.
"That’s a long, slow rehab," Indians manager Tim Hulett said. "We’re hoping we get him back for the playofffs, but it’s iffy right now. He threw one pitch (in Hillsboro) and tweaked it. That’s a tough loss because he’s pitched extremely well. He’s a big part of our pen."
McCain was working on a streak of 26 consecutive scoreless innings.