The 76-game Northwest League season reached its one-third point (minus one game, to be fair) Tuesday night with the Spokane Indians (18-7) flexing their muscles during a 16-4 win over the Tri-City Dust Devils at Avista Stadium. The Indians as a whole and their players as individuals are dominating league statistics. Read story
The Indians continue to lead the league in team earned-run average (3.26), but they've done so without standout aces. Spokane doesn't have a pitcher among the top 10 in league ERA or among the top five in strikeouts. Starter Nick Gardewine has a league-leading four wins, but his ERA is 4.13. Another starter, Richelson Pena, has three wins and an ERA of 4.03.
Spokane's bullpen has been deep and stingy, and Tuesday was no different. After starter Andrew Barnett (1-0) departed with a 14-4 lead, Darrell Hunter, Chris Dula and Luis Pollorena checked the Dust Devils on four hits over four innings. They allowed no walks or runs. Pollorena has checked opponents on 6-for-46 hitting (.130), the second-best mark among NWL relievers. Fellow reliever Jason Hoppe has struck out 15 batters in 10 2/3 innings, one of the league's best strikeout-to-nine-innings ratio (12.66) among relievers.
Besides big help from the bullpen, Spokane's starters can get away with 4.00 ERAs because the Indians lead the league in team batting at .281. Spokane players are No. 1 in three big categories: batting average, Seth Spivey, .380; slugging percentage, Jose Trevino, .608; and on-base percentage, Marcus Greene, .453.
"I’m trying to do my job for the team and just get on base," said Spivey, who had his first four-hit night since this season at Abilene Christian (Texas) University. "I’m hitting at the top of the lineup, so I have to do my job and get on base."
Third baseman Juremi Profar is leading the team in RBIs (21) one year after he led his Dominican Summer League team in RBIs with 44. This is the first time in the United State for the native of Willemstad, Curacao, whose brother Jurickson played for the Indians and is now with the parent-club Texas Rangers (although injured). Jurickson's advice to Juremi about Spokane was succinct: "Good place to play, good crowd, good people. Have fun."
The Indians might have scored 20 runs on Tuesday if manager and third-base coach Tim Hulett hadn't put up the stop sign several times for runners turning third base after hits to the outfield.
"I’m holding them up, one, because the game is out of hand, but two, I don’t want a collision at the plate," Hulett said. "Most of those (hits) are right at the outfielders. I know those guys want that RBI and if it’s an obvious RBI, I’m sending that guy. All of those were close plays because they were right at the outfielder."