Hops pitching sends Indians to third straight setback
Hillsboro Hops pitchers have held the Spokane Indians to seven runs in the last three Northwest League games at Avista Stadium. The Hops' starters have worked deep into the three games: 7 2/3 innings from Ross Gerdeman on Saturday, eight innings from Ryan Doran on Sunday and 8 1/3 innings from Ben Eckels on Monday. The Indians have one more game with Hillsboro in the series, Tuesday with new Spokane pitcher John Niggli (1-0, 1.80) on the mound. Read story
Monday's Hops starter, Ben Eckles, was kind to Spokane in postgame comments, saying the Indians were among the best-hitting teams he's seen.
"If you make your pitches, you’re going to get people out," Eckles said. "That’s the case with every team."
The Indians wouldn't have scored off Eckles except for a disputed balk call in the third inning that moved Janluis Castro to second base.
The Indians' .223 team batting average continues to force the pitching staff to keep games close. Among current Indians with at least 100 at-bats, Castro (.257) is the only one hitting better than .226. Spokane has six regulars bunched between .214 and .226.
At that, Spokane forced extra innings on Saturday with a three-run ninth before losing in the 10th; entered the eighth inning Sunday tied at 1; and had the tying run in scoring position Monday in the eighth and ninth innings.
"Our guys battle to the end," said coach Vinny Lopez, who served as acting Indians manager when Tim Hulett was ejected after the eighth inning. "Tying run on second base, winning run on first. We can’t complain. These guys are competitors. That’s how they’ve been all year. That’s their ID."
Hulett was apparently pushed to the limit on a strike call against Gabe Roa with two out and the potential tying run at second base in the eighth. He gave the umpires plenty of lip before the top of the ninth, and a surprised Roa was also tossed, leading him to point his glove at the men in blue.
Monday's game breezed along at 2 hours, 21 minutes as the teams combined for just three walks.
Spokane's home record slipped to 15-16 with seven home contests remaining.
Indians infielder Cam Schiller, 8 for 16 in his last four games, went 0 for 3.