The good news for the Spokane Indians is that they've averaged 8.5 runs per game during their Northwest League series with the Tri-City Dust Devils at Avista Stadium. The bad news is that includes 16 runs during Tuesday's easy win and one run during Wednesday's agonizing loss. Read story
Keep in mind that the Indians were facing the NWL's leader in earned-run average, Helmis Rodriguez (1.67), and that they should have entered the eighth inning -- and maybe the ninth -- with a 1-0 lead.
Tri-City tied the game at 1 in the sixth when Francisco Sosa scored from second base after Indians center fielder Zach Cone dropped Dillon Thomas' two-out fly. Sosa was only on second base because first-base umpire John Marshall ruled that Spokane didn't get the tag on Sosa during a rundown. There was also evidence that Old Sol in the sky assisted on Cone's error.
"Not to make any excuse for Cone, because he’s a great outfielder, but I noticed he ran through the sun just as he missed the ball, so there’s a little spot up there where the sun shines through late in the game," Indians manager Tim Hulett said.
Tri-City took a 2-1 lead in the eighth when Sam Bumpers led off with a single, moved to second on Adam Parks' wild pitch, and scored on Miguel Dilone's one-out double down the right-field line. Even then, the Indians might have avoided TC's tiebreaker if first baseman Fernando Vivili had concentrated on knocking down Dilone's hit.
"You know you’re going to get a top-spin hop and you've got to get over there and at least knock it down," Hulett said.
It was an all-around tough day for league wins leader Nick Gardewine (4-1), who threw 22 pitches during the Dust Devils' first inning and another 27 in the second. One of the pitches in the second screamed off the bat of Thomas and hit Gardewine on the right hip after glancing his forearm. Gardewine stayed in the game and escaped a bases-loaded jam, but the Indians called upon reliever Austin Pettibone for the third inning.
"It was just precautionary," Hulett said. "I didn’t want it to change (Gardewine's) delivery and hurt his arm. ... We wanted to err on the side of safety."
Pettibone pitched two-hit shutout ball for three innings. Shane McCain followed with four strikeouts in two innings.
All told, not the best day for the league's No. 1 team.
"I think it’s a good lesson for our guys," Hulett said. "I think we were outhusted and outplayed tonight. Just because you had a great night the night before doesn’t mean you can just show up, throw and balls and bats out there and expect the other team to lay down."