After Saturday's 12-3 shellacking of Everett, the Spokane Indians need one victory -- or one defeat by the Vancouver Canadians -- in the next two games to qualify for postseason as the Northwest League's North Division first-half champion. The league's 38-game first half ends Monday and Spokane (24-12) holds a one-game lead over Vancouver (23-13). The only way Vancouver could take the automatic berth away from the Indians is if Spokane loses to Everett on Sunday and Monday while the Canadians win at Tri-City those two days. A tie doesn't do Vancouver any good because Spokane holds the first tiebreaker, its 4-2 edge over Vancouver so far this year. Read story
The Indians allowed Vancouver back into the first-half title race by losing four of five games at Boise while the Canadians won four of five at home against Eugene.
"Those last five games at Boise were tough and the energy level started dropping," Indians manager Tim Hulett said. ... "We come back here and give up some runs early, but there was no panic in the guys. We play well at home. The energy’s good."
"A lot of the guys were anxious," said Saturday's starter and winner, Nick Gardewine. "We’re just trying to do too much in Boise and it got the best of us. But they were on a hot streak. We should be fine from here on in."
Spokane's home record is officially 13-4, but the Indians are 13-3 at Avista Stadium. One of their home games against Eugene in June was rained out and made up on the road, although Spokane was listed as the home team during the loss.
The Indians are also 13-3 against their division, including 4-0 against Everett. The Indians have outscored the AquaSox 32-11 this season.
The Indians, of course, are well aware that a playoff berth is within reach.
"Everyone knows what we have to do and everyone’s onboard with it," said center fielder Zach Cone, whose fifth homer in seven games tied him for the league lead with three others, including teammate Jose Trevino. "It’s not a secret in (the locker room), but we want to win every game."
Cone has fewer at-bats (112) than the others tied with seven homers.
"We want to win it (Sunday), but we’re going to come out and do the exact same thing we do every day," Hulett said.
"(The playoffs are) exciting," Gardewine said. "For everybody on the team, that’s our goal."