Strikeouts and lightning strikes – that’s what Indians fans had in store for them Friday night.
But strikeouts don’t always guarantee a win. And even a summer thunderstorm couldn’t spark Spokane’s offense.
A 1-hour, 14-minute storm delay interrupted Spokane’s 4-3 Northwest League baseball loss to the Vancouver Canadians at Avista Stadium.
After the delay, “I thought we came out and were ready,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “I mean, we put guys on base for two or three innings right after that.
“I thought the pitchers did a good job. We came in, we threw strikes, we got after hitters. We got base runners. We did everything that you really need to do to win except get the big base hit.”
After Vancouver took a 3-0 against starter Matt Nevarez after three innings, Spokane’s relievers took over and kept the Indians in the game.
Nevarez, Tim Murphy and Trevor Hurley combined for 14 strikeouts.
The Canadians didn’t get a hit off a Spokane reliever until the top of the ninth, but that led to Vancouver’s victory.
With Francisco Tirado on third base with two outs, Jason Christian broke the game’s long-standing 3-3 stalemate with a ground ball that bounced off reliever Ryan Schlecht’s hand.
“Matty came out and struggled a little bit, but figured it out by the end,” Murphy said of Nevarez. “I mean, three runs is not that big of a deal. Any team should be able to come back from that, and we were able to get those three runs back.
“So it was kind of a team effort. It takes a whole team to win.”
With dark clouds looming in the southwest, the Indians were able to small-ball their way back to the 3-3 tie. As lightning neared, the umpires tried to stretch play as long as they could, but they gave in to the elements in the middle of the fifth inning.
So came the lightning.
Lots of it.
The players left the field and fans were moved under cover. First came the lightning. Then the wind. Then the hail.
Meanwhile, vendors still roved the stands selling beer to the dedicated few. By the time play resumed, at 9:50 p.m., the crowd had shrunk from 5,283 to just a few hundred fans.
Back on the damp field, the Indians immediately got to work, but without results. The Indians got two base runners on with one out, but Mike Bianucci hit into a double play. The next inning, Spokane loaded the bases for two of its biggest hitters – Matt West and David Paisano – but they couldn’t convert.
The seventh inning was the only one that the Indians did not have a man reach base.
Paisano led the offense with a 3-for-5 night, but had no RBIs. Nobody else had more than one hit.
The Indians and Canadians play against tonight at 6:30 at Avista Stadium. Thunderstorms are again forecast.