You can tell these are heady days for the Spokane Indians when stories written about them contain references to events that occurred before World War II. By defeating Boise 6-2 on Sunday, the Indians (8-1) matched the 1937 Hawks for the best nine-game start in Spokane professional baseball history. This team's next goal is the 1911 Indians, who started the season 13-1 and are the only Spokane club with a start better than 8-1. Read story
Count Indians manager Tim Hulett as one who appreciates the team's 8-1 start but isn't ready to lobby for a parade down Main Street.
“That’s always cool stuff, but I’m not a big numbers guy,” Hulett said. “It’s really about tomorrow. We’ll come out and do our pregame. We’ll do all our work and get ready for tomorrow’s game. But these guys are doing a great job of getting ready each day and playing that game, and that’s the game we’re all about.”
Spokane's start is anything but lucky or fluky. After banging out 13 hits on Sunday while holding Boise to four, the Indians lead the Northwest League in team batting average (.280) and team earned-run average (2.19).
“Yet again, everybody showed up,” said right fielder Luke Tendler, who finished 2 for 3 to raise his average to .444. “Our defense showed up, our hitting showed up and our pitchers showed up. Just like it’s been all year.”
Tendler ranks third in NWL hitting. Spokane's Seth Spivey (.500), who missed Sunday's game with a tweaked neck, leads the way. Also for Spokane, Eduard Pinto is seventh at .394, Fernando Vivili is 10th at .333, and Marcus Greene and Jose Trevino are tied for 15th at .313.
Trevino and Tendler homered Sunday to give the Indians five for the season, all at Avista Stadium.
“The thing I like about it is guys aren’t trying to hit home runs,” Hulett said. “They’re just putting good swings on the ball and when you do that good things happen.”
“I felt in a groove today,” Trevino said. “I felt fine. I felt relaxed and I felt comfortable in the box.”
Spokane's bullpen has risen to the occasion all season. Spokane relievers haven't allowed more than two combined earned runs in a game this season. Four times, including the last three games, the bullpen has pitched a shutout.
Nick Dignacco's first relief appearance, on June 15, resulted in two hits and one earned run in two innings. On Sunday night, he entered in the fourth inning and allowed just an infield single while striking out four in three innings.
“The first time I pitched it was a blur, so you don’t really remember that,” Dignacco said. “The second time you want to make it a little more meaningful. Basically to throw strikes and get my breaking stuff working. Luckily, I made some pitches.”
Indians starter Andrew Barnett was limited to three innings after pitching three innings of one-hit relief last Wednesday at Vancouver.
“I thought (Barnett) just looked tired today, but in fairness to him, he did a pretty good job of minimizing the innings,” Hulett said. “He didn’t give up the big inning without his best stuff. He competed really well, and then the relievers came in and did a heck of a job today.”
Hulett credited Saquan Johnson, a late replacement for Spivey at designated hitter, for having his best game after starting the season 1 for 17. Johnson went 2 for 5 from the No. 2 spot.
“It makes me look like a genius after he had two hits,” Hulett said. “He had a great first game and then he struggled for a few games, but he made a couple of subtle changes. He brought in a video from extended spring when he swung really well. We kind of went over it a little bit and we talked about what he was doing different, and I think he was able to put it into practice today. It’s good to see him get a couple of knocks today.”