During a stretch in which the Spokane Indians play Yakima six times in seven days, the Indians are getting used to making life miserable for the Bears.
Yakima entered Sunday leading the Northwest League East Division standings with a 7-4 record and in the hunt for the second playoff spot, but surrendered a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning to Spokane, and the Indians went on to beat Yakima for the fourth time in five attempts, 6-5 at Avista Stadium.
The Indians (7-5 in the second half) rallied after giving up four runs in the top of the fifth to score five of their own in the bottom of the inning, chasing Yakima reliever Keith Cantwell (3-3) with a two-out, two-run double by Jake Skole. The double by Skole broke a 4-4 tie and gave the Indians the lead for good.
“We don’t have the same kind of pressure on us (to win) and we can just come out and enjoy the game of baseball,” said Indians first baseman Andrew Clark, who went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. “It was nice to get the win and we still have four games left with them. We’re not going to take any game for granted and obviously we want to win.”
The offensive eruption in the fifth inning helped get Roman Mendez off the hook after the Spokane starter allowed four runs in the top of the fifth inning. Mendez, who went five shutout innings in his first start since being traded from the Boston Red Sox organization, looked to be cruising yet again in his second start.
It fell apart for the third-year pro, though, with two outs in the fifth. A line drive to left field was misplayed by Jared Hoying, allowing Tom Belza to score. The Bears’ next hitter, Mike Weber, belted a fastball over the right-field fence to give Yakima a 3-1 lead.
The Bears struck for one more run to end Mendez’s night.
Despite the struggles in the fifth, Mendez finished 42/3 innings with five strikeouts and four runs (zero earned).
“He fits in (the clubhouse) real well, we’ve welcomed him real good and he likes it over here,” Skole said. “He threw great tonight. There were a couple of pitches I’m sure he’d like back but other than that he’s been great for us.”
Clark added he wouldn’t be surprised to see the dominant right-hander get the call up to the Class A advanced league before too long.
In six starts with the Greenville Drive, Mendez was 0-2 with an ERA of 11.40 and 18 strikeouts. Since his arrival in Spokane, though, he is 1-0 with 13 strikeouts in 92/3 innings and hasn’t allowed an earned run.
Tim Steggall (3-1) pitched 21/3 scoreless innings to earn the win for the Indians, and Colby Killian dodged a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning to earn his third save of the season.
Alejandro Selen hit his first home run of the season Sunday, ending a 45-at-bat skid without a homer. Before the season opener, Selen won the home run derby held among the players during the three-day mini-camp.
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