The Spokane Indians made it 6 for 7 in winning series this Northwest League season by turning back the Tri-City Dust Devils 5-2 at Avista Stadium. The Indians won the series 2-1 and are 4-0 in home series this year. Their lone series loss came at Eugene. Read story
Indians manager Tim Hulett said one of the team's top goals is to get a win in every series. That goal becomes challenging in the next eight days, as the Indians play Tri-City in Pasco for three games before starting a five-game series at Boise on Monday. Both sites promise to be toasty, even hotter than Thursday's 91 degrees to start the game at Avista.
"We have a couple of series on the road that I’d love to win," Hulett said. "That would big for us."
The Indians could clinch the North Division first-half title while on the road. The first-half champion qualifies for the playoffs and gets to choose whether it wants to host Game 1 or Game 2 (and possibly 3) of the divisional series. The Indians have indicated that they would play Game 1 on the road.
Spokane has won nine of 12 games against North rivals: 2-1 vs. Tri-City; 4-2 vs. Vancouver; and 3-0 vs. Everett.
The Indians outhit Tri-City 11-5 on Thursday, but it was quite an odd game. With a few breaks, the Indians could have won overwhelmingly, but they grounded into three double plays and didn't take much advantage of bases-loaded situations. Both Dust Devils runs were set up by errors, putting the pressure on Indians starter Richelson Pena (4-1).
"We made some mistakes in the field and Pena really did a pretty nice job," Hulett said. "He struggled with his command and got behind hitters, and the pitch count got up pretty quick. But he did a great job and the relievers were excellent."
On the other hand, without Luke Tendler smashing away for three extra-base hits and four RBIs, the Indians could have lost 2-1.
"He’s been swinging the bat good all year," Hulett said. "He’s a dangerous hitter. Even if you make good pitches, he’s a tough hitter."
"It was a great feeling, those (two) doubles," Tendler said. "I hit them both hard and ran hard out of the box and ended up on second base."
Hulett credited closer Johnny Fasola with another terrific job, entering in the eighth and getting strikeouts on all six outs he recorded. Fasola got an inning-ending strikeout with runners on first and second in the eighth, and fanned the side in the ninth. He has 16 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings this season and sports an earned-run average of 0.00.
Hulett also mentioned that he thought his players were overswinging when they came to bat with the bases loaded. Thursday's Indians promotion was to award a truck to a fan if a Spokane player hit a grand slam. Tendler, for one, struck out with the bases loaded in the fifth. Soon after, Zach Cone hit two long fouls to left field with the bases full before popping out.
"I don’t feel like I was overswinging," Tendler said. "The pitcher at that point (Grahamm Wiest), he made some great pitches against me."