What a difference 24 hours, quality pitching, solid defense and timely hitting made for the Spokane Indians.
One night after an unsightly 9-4 loss to Everett opened a five-game home stand to close the regular season, Spokane rebounded behind pitcher Santo Perez and two relievers to shut down the AquaSox 3-1 in front of 3,355 fans Wednesday at Avista Stadium.
Spokane snapped a seven-game losing streak while outlasting the AquaSox and a couple of rain delays. The first storm came through prior to the game and pushed back the opening pitch 46 minutes. Another downpour resulted in a brief stoppage in the sixth inning.
The Indians (13-22 second half, 33-40 overall) are pulling for Tri-City, which leads Yakima by one game, to win the second-half standings in the Northwest League’s East Division. If Tri-City holds on, the second playoff berth goes to the team with the second-best overall record. Spokane trails Boise (34-39) by one game.
“We’re still hanging around,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said, “but, unfortunately, Boise’s been hot.”
Perez, who was just 2-4 with a 5.13 ERA in his last 10 appearances, limited the AquaSox to one run over six innings. Kyle Hendricks pitched a pair of scoreless innings and Matt West worked out of a ninth-inning jam to earn his eighth save.
“It was a different team tonight and it was good to see,” Hulett said. “Santo has been pretty solid all year and we needed that from him. ‘Westy’ came in and made it pretty exciting, but he got it done.”
Everett pitcher Jose Campos entered with a league-leading 2.12 ERA and he held the Indians without a hit through the first two innings. Spokane’s Zach Cone changed that with a solo homer in the third.
The Indians bumped their lead to 3-0 with a two-out rally in the fourth. It started with Brett Nicholas’ flare to left that barely eluded shortstop Marcus Littlewood’s glove. Yefry Castillo lined a double to right center and Nicholas beat the relay throw home with a hook slide. Jimmy Swift followed with an RBI double in his second game with the Indians.
Everett threatened in the fifth with runners at first and second and no outs in the fifth. Perez fanned Jarrett Burgess and third baseman Swift took care of the rest. He made a diving catch on Littlewood’s pop-up in foul territory and a nice stop and throw on Jorge Agudelo’s hot grounder.
“That’s one thing about baseball: You play every day and you can change it around quickly,” Swift said. “It was nice to come in and help a little bit.”
Everett’s Jabari Blash belted a home run through a driving rain to trim Spokane’s lead to 3-1 in the sixth. That was the last pitch before a 22-minute delay. The game resumed, despite rain drops still falling.
Hendricks gave up one hit in his two innings. Everett’s first two batters singled off West and moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt. West buckled down to strike out James Wood and Burgess.