Richard Bleier made one mistake Tuesday, and it cost him an unearned run.
But that was it.
The Spokane Indians starting pitcher ran the show at Avista Stadium, allowing just one run and two hits in six innings against the Yakima Bears.
With Spokane’s 6-3 victory, Bleier and the Indians (22-6) continued to run away from the rest of the Northwest League. The win was Spokane’s ninth straight at home and sixth straight overall.
“Everyone’s playing well,” Bleier said. “We just have a really good team. I don’t see any flaws – we play defense, we pitch and we hit.”
Easy for him to say. He had just registered his third win this season. The Indians’ one error was his, when he overthrew first trying to pick off Yakima’s David Cooper, who eventually scored.
Bleier also had four strikeouts and no walks. The Bears (11-17) didn’t hit a ball out of the infield until the sixth inning, Bleier’s last.
“I threw a good bullpen earlier this week, I felt pretty confident coming into the start, and I was glad it carried over,” Bleier said. “It’s nice to get recognized. It’s definitely a good feeling.”
That recognition he mentioned was from Indians manager Tim Hulett, who said the key to the game was the starting pitching. Bleier’s performance allowed the Indians’ offense to relax and swing the bats, Hulett said.
The 21-year-old Bleier, picked in the sixth round in this year’s draft, said the outing was one of his best.
“He’s had several good starts in a row, (he’s) got good command, mixes his pitches well,” Hulett said. “He’s got good presence out on the mound. He knows what he’s doing.”
Spokane’s offense was also a highlight. The Indians combined for 11 hits, led by right fielder Eric Fry, who went 3 for 4 and scored three times.
His three singles helped jump-start some exciting innings for the 5,079 fans at Avista Stadium. In the bottom of the second, he ended up scoring on a sacrifice fly by Doug Hogan. In the fourth inning, David Paisano drove him in with a double.
“My bat was kind of slow, everybody else was good,” Fry said.
In the eighth, Fry was instrumental in giving the Indians some insurance runs they would appreciate in the top of the ninth.
That’s when Justin Miller, Spokane’s new acquisition, came in to close out the game.
Fresh out of Fresno State – where he had a 5.46 earned run average, a 6-4 record and helped the Bulldogs win the College World Series this year – Miller threw the gamut.
With his first professional pitch, he hit batter Ariel Urena. Miller then allowed a single through the gap into left field. With one out, he walked the bases loaded with his fourth straight ball to Ramon Castillo.
Facing Andrew Fie, a grand slam threatening, Miller threw a wild pitch that allowed Urena to score.
But he struck out Fie and got Brendan Duffy to line out, securing Spokane’s win.
“He did a good job. (I’m) glad to see him get through it,” Hulett said. “I didn’t really want to have to go to (Yoon-Hee) Nam in the pen. I wanted Justin to work through that. So he did – that’s good.”
The Indians will try to sweep the three-game series against Yakima at 6:30 tonight.
Spokane’s newest player, Glenn Swanson, is on rehab assignment after Tommy John surgery. Swanson, who joined the roster Tuesday, played for the Indians in 2006. Last year, he made his way up to the Texas Rangers’ high single-A team, the Bakersfield Blaze, before his injury sent him down to the Arizona Rookie League. He recorded a 3.87 ERA in 14 minor league games last season. He did not play Tuesday.
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