It’s reached the point in the season when the Spokane Indians are tempted to do some scoreboard watching – even if they don’t want to admit it.
They took care of their scoreboard Saturday, stopping the Northwest League West Division-leading Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 5-2 before 6,374 at Avista Stadium in the rubber game of the five-game series on a coffee or hot chocolate night.
With two-thirds of the 76-game season completed, though, the Indians are running out of time in their pursuit of Tri-City, the East Division leaders.
Spokane (26-29) is six games behind Tri-City after a homestand in which the Indians had a chance to pull within four.
“You really don’t want to scoreboard watch,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “We’ve still got a lot of games left. It’s a tough do, but it’s doable. All we can do is control what we do.”
Spokane had things well in hand with a 4-0 lead when rain started falling in sheets in the top of the fifth inning. A delay ensued, but play resumed 24 minutes later.
The Indians got going early. Miguel Velazquez had a two-run double to right-center that just missed clearing the fence by 3 feet in the first inning.
Spokane made it 3-0 in the third without the benefit of a hit. Leadoff hitter Joe Bonadonna got aboard via a walk. He stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Moments later he scored on a wild pitch.
In the fourth, Zach Zaneski made it 4-0 with an RBI single.
Spokane right-hander Trevor Hurley (4-2) returned to the mound with the bases loaded and one out after the rain delay. He coaxed a pop out before giving up a two-run single to Luke Anders. He stopped the Volcanoes’ threat with a strikeout to put himself in position for the win.
Righty Kyle Ocampo took over in the sixth and pitched two hitless innings.
“We used Ocampo a little bit earlier than we had been using him, but we just felt like he was the right guy,” Hulett said. “He threw two quick easy clean innings.”
Ocampo said there was nothing mysterious to what he did.
“I just trusted Z (Zaneski, the catcher) and went after the hitters,” Ocampo said.
Spokane has a rare day off today and travels to Boise for a three-game series. The Indians then head to Tri-City for three games – their final three with the Dust Devils – before returning home Aug. 23 for a six-game series with Boise.
“Obviously, we’re going to have to have some help,” Hulett said of possibly catching Tri-City. “It’d be nice to get a little closer than we are going into (Tri-City).”
Ocampo likes what he’s seen in the past week.
“All we can do is play our game and worry about ourselves,” he said. “We’re playing good baseball and it’s fun to play right now.”