You can’t judge a team by its start – good, bad or indifferent.
That was certainly the case last year for the Spokane Indians. They started 1-7 before bouncing back to secure a Northwest League playoff berth with the best first-half record.
Spokane manager Tim Hulett took lots of notes Friday as the Salem-Keiser Volcanoes clobbered the Indians 14-2 in a season opener before 6,166 at Avista Stadium.
“We don’t want to go 1-7 again,” said Hulett, whose teams are now 2-3 in season openers. “We try to win every series. So this series is a long ways from being over.”
It was a strange game for the Indians. Six Spokane pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts, but they allowed 18 hits and seven walks. Promising right-handed starter David Perez struck out eight while showing the expected heat on his fastball. Perez allowed four runs on five hits and two walks before he left after 73 pitches in the fourth inning.
Perez worked into the fourth but didn’t record an out. His replacement, lefty Chris Hanna, proceeded to give up five runs on five hits in his lone inning.
“We got to look at a lot of guys out of the (bullpen), which is good,” Hulett said.
All the Volcanoes, except their leadoff hitter, got at least one hit and six had at least two hits.
Mike Murray led the Volcanoes, going 5 for 6 with two RBIs and a homer.
S-K starter Cameron Lamb, a righty who was signed as a free agent in 2007 out of Mirrabooka, Australia, limited the Indians to four hits in five innings to pick up the win.
Hulett saw some good in the lopsided setback.
“(I’m) pleased because we know there are things we need to get better at,” Hulett said. “(We need to) shorten the swings up early in the game. We faced a pretty good guy and he commanded the strike zone very well. We’re going to have to be better than that early in the count.”
Indians catcher Jorge Alfaro had two hits including a homer.
The Texas Rangers have signed their top two draft picks, left-handed pitcher Kevin Matthews and outfield Zach Cone.
Matthews, who was selected 33rd overall from Richmond Hill (Ga.) High, was assigned to the rookie-level Arizona Rangers in the Arizona League. The 18-year-old went 4-2 with a 1.68 ERA in 10 games for Richmond Hill as a senior this spring. The 6-foot, 180-pound lefty struck out 94 and walked 14 over 42 innings. Cone, who was taken 36th from the University of Georgia, was assigned to Spokane. He batted .317 with 18 home runs, 28 doubles, 11 triples and 106 RBIs over three years for the Bulldogs. Indians officials weren’t sure when Cone is expected to arrive. Texas has signed 21 of its 51 2011 picks. … The front end of the Indians’ schedule is loaded with home games. In June, eight of 14 games are at home. In July, 19 of 30 games are at home. It changes in August when Spokane plays 21 of 29 on the road.