The Spokane Indians might eventually end up wishing they had saved their early offensive outburst for a different night and a different pitcher, because Robbie Ross certainly didn’t need that much support.
Ross, a second-round choice of the parent Texas Rangers in the 2008 major league draft, was masterful again Friday evening, scattering five hits and allowing only two runs in six innings of work as the Indians treated a sellout Avista Stadium crowd of 6,842 to a 9-5 Northwest League win over the Eugene Emeralds.
The stocky left-hander (4-2) fanned four and walked one in raising his league-leading strikeout total to 54. In the process, he made his teammates’ seven-run, second-inning eruption seem like a bit of overkill.
“Just another solid outing for him tonight,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said of Ross. “He really went after those guys, and they swing the bats pretty good. He pounded the zone again and mixed up his pitches really well.”
“I felt like I could hit my spots tonight, and I had a great defense behind me, too,” said Ross, who pitched with a heavily taped left ankle he sprained Thursday night when he hopped off the ledge in front of his locker and landed awkwardly on a shoe. “My teammates did what they needed to do for me, and I tired to do what I needed to do for them.
“I knew I might not have my best stuff, but I felt like I could get it done, even though I was hurting a little bit.”
The Indians gave Ross a comfortable lead by scoring seven times in the bottom of the second to chase Ems starter Miles Mikolas (0-5), who gave up eight hits and all seven of Spokane’s early runs.
The Indians sent 10 batters to the plate in the second when they torched Mikolas for seven hits and a walk.
Miguel Velazquez drove in two runs with one of Spokane’s three doubles in the inning, and Tommy Mendonca stroked a pair of singles, the second of which produced another run.
While the early surge might have seemed of no great importance in the end, it did not go unappreciated by Ross.
“When you get seven runs like that, it helps you relax a little bit,” he said. “Especially when you’ve got guys making the kind of plays they made behind me tonight.”
Spokane, which has been inconsistent at the plate throughout much of the season, got three hits each from Jason Ogata, who raised his team-high average to .419, and Mendonca. The Indians also got a pair of hits and three RBIs from Vinnie DiFazio, whose two-run homer in the bottom of eighth helped ease some concerns after the Emeralds scored three times in the top half of the inning off reliever Andrew Doyle to pull within 7-5.
Eugene got its first run off Ross in the fifth when Ty Wright doubled and later scored on Jason Codiroli’s single to left field. It added another in the sixth on a hit batter, a bloop hit to right and a run-scoring single to right by Emmanuel Quiles.
The teams meet again tonight at 6:30 at Avista Stadium in the finale of their five-game series.