It wasn’t quite the way Will Lamb envisioned his first win as a professional pitcher, but he wasn’t about to turn it down.
When No. 9 hitter Travis Whitmore sliced a high fly ball over the right-center field fence at Avista Stadium to stake Eugene and Colin Rea to a 3-0 lead in the second inning Sunday night, it seemed as if the Spokane Indians’ chances in Lamb’s fifth start were pretty dismal.
“My stuff wasn’t there,” Lamb said. “That’s baseball. When you don’t expect it, expect it.”
The Indians quickly picked up the second-round draft pick out of Clemson and Lamb found a way to keep Eugene off the board for three more innings despite throwing just 45 strikes among his 86 pitches. The 8-6 victory in the rubber match of the five-game Northwest League series was much to the delight of the 3,940 fans enjoying a perfect night.
“That was his first win? Wow,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “That surprises me a little bit. He’s pitched well for us.”
Lamb’s counterpart, Rea, entered the game with a 3-1 record and 0.83 earned-run average for the Emeralds. The ERA didn’t change much (1.03), but the Indians’ prospects did with a four-run bottom of the second, although only one run was earned.
It started with a deep fly by Ruben Sierra to center field that was misplayed into a double. A hit batter and an infield single by Drew Robinson loaded the bases for Hanser Alberto, who hit a chopper to first that Zach Kometani threw away trying to get a force out at home. That allowed two runs to score before a Hirotoshi Onaka infield hit and Edwin Garcia sacrifice fly put the Indians ahead.
“I like that a lot,” Hulett said. “We’ve been having difficulty, I wouldn’t say struggling, to score as many runs as we have been. I liked the way the guys came back.”
Staked to new life, Lamb did his part, getting out of trouble while holding the Emeralds scoreless over his remaining three innings.
“My first two starts were more about working into a starter’s role; I was here as a reliever to begin with,” said Lamb, who ended up as a center fielder and reliever at Clemson. “It’s good. It’s a longer stint. You work your entire week to get a start.”
He was also equally comfortable with the Rangers’ decision to put him on the