There are 14 games left in the Spokane Indians’ regular season. Eight of them are against the Boise Hawks, the challenger for the Northwest League East Division title.
The Indians have lost three out of their past four meetings with the Hawks, including Wednesday’s 3-2 11-inning defeat at Avista Stadium. Boise got the winning run with Kyler Burke’s solo homer off Trevor Hurley.
Spokane is six games ahead of Boise in the East, and its magic number for clinching the title is hovering at nine.
So why doesn’t Indians manager Tim Hulett think it’s crunch time yet?
“We’ve still got a lot of games left, a lot of games with these guys,” he said. “Not worried. There’s a long way to be worried. When we get down to the last game and it’s tied, then we might worry.”
So Hulett wasn’t worried after his team blew a one-run lead in the top of the ninth, eventually giving up the first game of this three-game homestand against Boise (36-26). And he wasn’t too worried that the Indians (42-20) committed four errors in the game.
Two were on routine plays in the outfield. Center fielder David Paisano lost track of a high fly ball in the sixth inning and it dropped a few feet to his right. In the eighth, left fielder Mike Bianucci let a line drive bounce off his glove and into the corner.
None of Spokane’s four errors was consequential. The others were a throwing error by starting pitcher Martin Perez and a fielding error by first baseman Dennis Guinn. None of the resulting base runners crossed the plate.
Boise’s lone error, on the other hand, made a difference. Spokane’s Jason Ogata made it to first when Boise third baseman Josh Vitters bobbled a ground ball in the fourth. The next batter, Guinn, launched a rocket over the left-field wall to give Spokane a 2-0 lead.
But that was all the Indians’ offense could muster.
Boise scored one in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 2-1. The Hawks tied the game in the ninth after reliever Corey Young gave up a single and hit a batter.
“You gotta hand it to the pitching staffs,” Guinn said. “Their pitchers, they threw a great game. They kept us off balance all night.
“We got lucky to get those two runs. And it looked like we had the game, but they battled.”
Then again, a few weeks ago, it looked like the Indians had the division title all but wrapped up.
“To be the best, you gotta beat the best,” Guinn said. “We know we’re still in first place and we’re still six games up. But we’re not going to lay down by any means, or relax.”
Perez, Spokane’s 17-year-old starter, had another game in which it looked like he’d get his first professional win. But he’s stuck at 0-1 after 13 starts after a no-decision. … Shortstop Kyle Higgins has been on the disabled list for about a week after straining his back, according to Hulett. Higgins is almost healthy and could play, but Indians officials don’t want to aggravate his injury.