New outfielder’s bat, speed pace Indians win


Playing just his third game for the Spokane Indians, right fielder Miguel Velazquez made a favorable impression.

Velazquez coupled bat with speed, hitting safely in his first three at bats, two of them doubles, and scored twice in the Indians’ 6-3 Monday night victory over Vancouver.

His effort, among 15 hits by the Indians (7-10), sent 2,761 fans home happy and backed a solid pitching effort by starter Matt Thompson (1-1).

In his fourth appearance, Thompson was sharp and efficient through five innings. He allowed only two hits and two base runners – one gunned down trying to steal – and needed just 58 pitches.

“He was very sharp for five,” manager Tim Hulett said, “and actually he’s put together back-to-back starts like that. Last time in Yakima he threw great and he backed it up here. From what I hear it’s the first time he’s gone into the sixth inning.”

Thompson’s counterpart, Renaldo Penalba, had a quick two-strikeout first inning that belied a 6.94 earned-run average entering the game. He ran into trouble thereafter.

Although not hit hard in the second, three base hits fell in front of Vancouver outfielders. Cody Podraza drove in the Indians’ initial run with his second hit.

In the third Vinnie DiFazio slugged a double in the left-center field gap to the base of the wall. His blow scored Aja Barto following a one-out walk. Velazquez drove in DiFazio by lacing a double into the left-field corner.

Velazquez, a 21-year-old from San Juan, Puerto Rico, joined the Indians on Saturday from rookie ball with the Arizona League Rangers. Besides the run-scoring double in the third he doubled in the fifth, stole third base and scored on the errant throw by catcher Ryan Ortiz.

“You have to be aggressive,” Velazquez said. “There’s a lot of difference here. At this level there are better players.”

Hulett said of Velazquez: “He has all the tools. He’s got a great bat, quick hands and can really run. We needed a guy like that today.”

The Indians weathered a dicey final inning when reliever Sam Brown gave up a home run before getting out of a bases-loaded jam.

Thompson, who finished with five strikeouts, ran out of steam in the sixth inning when the Canadians (7-10) touched him for two runs, including an RBI double by leadoff batter Conner Crumbliss that followed a walk. It was only the third hit off the 19-year-old from Texas, in his second year of professional ball.

“I felt pretty good from the start,” Thompson said. “I was able to locate well. First inning I struggled a little bit, but then got in my groove.”

He said he lost control of the zone a bit in the sixth and didn’t have command of his changeup as well as he would have liked, but said this was his longest start as a professional.

Spokane’s 15 hits was among its best efforts this year.

“Unfortunately we didn’t score as many runs as I’d like to on 15 hits,” Hulett said. “You usually think 10 runs. But we swung the bats well tonight and we’ve been playing well the last week and a half. Things are coming together.”

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