Over the last nine days, the Spokane Indians have gone from dwelling in the Northwest League East cellar with a 1-7 record to top dogs in the division after Monday’s 8-3 victory over the Boise Hawks at Avista Stadium.
The biggest difference between the first couple of weeks and now for manager Tim Hulett?
“We actually played pretty well early on, but lost four one-run games,” said Hulett after his team won its eighth game in the last nine. “We just didn’t get the breaks. Then we finally broke through in a close game and ever since then the gates have been open and we’ve been winning those games.”
Perhaps seeing the fruits of their labor pay off the most have been the Indians’ hitters. Spokane (9-8) has seen its runs-per-game jump from 2.28 on June 26 to 3.94 after its second win over the Hawks (9-9) in as many days.
After scoring six runs against Boise on Sunday, the Indians pounced for eight on 13 hits in the second game in the three-game series.
“We’ve been getting early work done, getting to the field early and getting our swings in,” said designated hitter Andrew Clark, who collected two hits, two runs and two RBIs. “Then once the game comes we just let it all go and just take our best swings.
“The key to this game is preparation and I feel we’ve prepared ourselves.”
Besides Clark, four other Indians finished with multiple hits with Jurickson Profar and Clark Murphy each collecting three. Profar, who entered the game batting .246, saw his average jump to .277.
Boise starter Yao-Lin Wang (0-2) stymied the Spokane lineup for the first three innings as the Hawks clung to a 1-0 lead, but the Indians erupted in the fourth, chasing Wang after an RBI double from Yefry Castillo.
Spokane scored three in the frame and then added two more in the fifth, threatening to break the game wide open, but leaving the bases loaded.
“He walked some guys and we took advantage of it,” Clark said. “We got the guy over and we were able to get the double to score (Michael Olt). We really just competed at the plate and I feel with us competing and hitting, a couple of mistakes helped us win this game.”
Given a 5-2 lead after five innings, Spokane starting pitcher Nicholas McBride turned things over to the bullpen, and Colby Killian and Zack Osborne combined for the final four innings, allowing one run on six hits and striking out seven.
McBride (1-1) earned his first win of the season for Spokane, scattering five hits over five innings and striking out four.
The Indians were able to climb to the top of the standings in the Eastern Division because of their win and Yakima knocking off visiting Tri-Cities 7-5.
“Especially with the split season the first half of the season’s not real long,” Hulett said. “Any time you can get to the front of the pack and maybe break away is a real good thing.”
Profar picked up just his second walk of the season against Boise Monday, while teammate Jared Hoying upped his season total to four walks after entering the game with one on the season as well.