What’s the cure to breaking what had become a bad habit of losing close games, especially late?
The Spokane Indians offered their answer early and often Tuesday, and they never let the game be in doubt in a 10-3 Northwest League win over the Eugene Emeralds before a crowd of 3,285 at Avista Stadium.
“This team has been really resilient for the kind of season we’ve had,” said Spokane manager Tim Hulett, whose club improved to 14-24. “We’ve had a lot of close, tough games. The one thing this club has kept doing is it’s playing hard.”
Eight players had a hand in things as the Indians finished with 14 hits.
Miguel Velazquez got things started in the first inning with a run-scoring double. Then the Indians batted around in the second, adding four more runs on five hits.
Velazquez added a two-run homer, his fifth, as he collected three hits in his first three trips to raise his average to better than .300 since joining Spokane in late June.
The Indians’ Denny Duron matched Velazquez’s three hits.
“I think we’ve got all the tools to be a great team,” Duron said. “Everything just hasn’t come together yet. We’re right there and it shows. I think the second half, all of those games could go our way.”
Duron was alluding to the close losses the Indians have suffered.
“We had three tough (losses) at Vancouver, and we scored enough runs to win,” Hulett said. “For them to come out and get a victory tonight, I feel good for them.”
Braden Tullis (2-0) picked up the win, throwing five effective innings. He retired the last seven batters he faced.
Spokane took a 10-0 lead into the ninth before Jason Codiroli broke up the shutout bid with a three-run homer.
Although the Indians’ lead wasn’t threatened, Hulett didn’t like the way his team finished the game.
“It’s a nine-inning game and you’ve got to learn how to finish them,” he said.
Velazquez had a shot at the cycle, but couldn’t convert in his final two at-bats.
“He had a great night. I’m not sure why he couldn’t hit a triple,” Hulett said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “We need him to do those things. He got hot the last couple of games in Vancouver. It doesn’t matter how hard a guy throws, he can turn it around.”
Hulett expects better performances in the second half.
“We should have way more than 14 (wins),” he said. “We’ve probably lost 14 one-run games – or games we had a lead and could have won the game.”
Spokane pitchers muzzled the Emeralds’ usually high-octane middle of the lineup.
Righty Trevor Hurley starts tonight for Spokane. It will be the second game of Spokane’s five-game series and homestand. Spokane has a rare day off Sunday before traveling to Salem-Keizer.
Indians 10, Emeralds 3
E—CTremblay (8), Rincon 2 (12), Lima (4). DP—Eugene 1. LOB—Eugene 9, Spokane 8. 2B—MVelazquez, Zaneski, Duron, Barto. HR—Codiroli (3), MVelazquez (5), Zaneski (1). SB—KRhoad (8).
HBP—by Angelucci (Ogata). WP—BTullis, JMiller. Balk—BTullis. T—2:48. A—3,285.