Drew Robinson didn’t duck away from the high, hard question about his hitting, which is 14 points below his playing weight after going hitless on Sunday night.
But there is far more to notice about the Spokane Indians’ third baseman than his .171 average and that was the difference in the home team’s 3-2 win over Yakima before 4,488 fans on a lovely evening at Avista Stadium.
Robinson drove in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, giving him 23 RBIs in his 31 games.
“Obviously I’m not hitting well, everyone knows it,” Robinson said. “Right now it’s not about me, it’s about getting the team a win. Any way I can produce runs or an RBI, that’s all I’m focused on.”
With a solid night of pitching – for both teams – Robinson getting the ball out of the infield with a sharply hit line drive to left field was enough for the Indians (5-7).
“Really great pitching,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “We put some hits on the board but we really didn’t have too many innings where we were threatening a lot.”
The Indians had nine hits but it was a hit batter who scored the winning run. Greg Robinson (0-5) hit Zach Cone with one out in the sixth. Guillermo Pimentel singled sharply to center with Cone running, putting him on third for Robinson.
“He really has done a good job,” Hulett said of Robinson. “He’s ran into a lot of balls with guys in scoring position and he’s had a lot of extra base hits with guys in scoring position. We’d like to have him mix in a little more consistency, maybe get some innings started instead of just finishing them, but he’s hanging in there.”
Robinson was a fourth-round draft pick last year out of high school in Las Vegas and he hit .286 in the Arizona league. But this year the 6-foot-1, 185-pound 19-year old has struggled.
“I’ve had bad luck but I’m also not getting good swings on balls or having good at-bats,” he said. “So as I said, right now it’s all for the team. Whenever I see an opportunity for an RBI, I’m going to focus even more, like anyone else, can try to get that run in.”
A shortstop in high school, Robinson played three infield positions and two in the outfield last year before getting put at third, but none of that is an excuse for his hitting.
“What you do on defense can’t affect the way you hit; you have to separate the game,” he said. “The reason why I’ve been bouncing around so much is I’m not a solid defensive player. Hopefully finding a position is the key for me. Right now third base feels good. I’m gaining weight.”
Both starters, Nicholas McBride for the Indians and Lake City graduate Alex Capaul for the Bears (4-8), were effective but not involved in the decision.
McBride gave up a run in the second when Justin Hilt tripled off the right field wall and Tyler Bream singled. He had a lead thanks to an unearned run in the fourth and Rougned Odor’s RBI-single in the fifth.
The Bears tied it in the fifth, when they scored only one run despite three hits.
Capaul, drafted in the 43rd round out of the University of Hawaii, pitched well in his sixth start, giving up seven hits with four strikeouts and no walks. In 10 appearances he has a 2.64 earned run average, 26 strikeouts and just five walks in 44 innings.
“He’s a pretty good pitcher,” Hulett said. “He’s going to give up a hit or two here and there but he’s not going to give you too much to hit with runners in scoring position. We knew that. But our pitching did a great job for us.”
McBridge walked one and struck out two while allowing six hits into the sixth inning. Kyle Hendricks (2-1) helped him out of a jam in the sixth when the Bears tied the game and allowed just two hits before turning the game over to Matt West in the ninth for his fifth save.