When Lou Pinella was the Mariners manager he used to say, in his inimitable way, solo home runs don’t beat ya.
Tuesday night the Yakima Bears proved Pinella wrong.
Of course, they hit four of them.
All during the first four innings.
And the Spokane Indians chipped in with six errors, leading to a couple of unearned runs.
When the 3,406 at Avista Stadium had finally filed out after an overpowering 1-2-3 ninth by Bears closer Evan Marshall, Yakima had its fourth win of the season and the Indians had a four-game losing streak, all thanks to a 7-5 decision.
“It’s hard for us when we go out there and give up runs in the first four innings. Every night, it seems like lately,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said after his team’s record fell to 6-6. “That weighs on guys on the mental side.”
Especially when starter Victor Payano (0-1) had seemed to pitch a perfect first.
But Tyler Bream’s line out to Trever Adams to end the inning was nullified by catcher’s interference on Jorge Alfaro, his second of the season and the first of two for Alfaro in this game.
A single moved Bream, son of former major leaguer Sid Bream, to third and he scored when Alfaro, trying to nail Jimmy Comerota stealing second, sailed his throw into center field.
The Indians tied it in the bottom of the first when Hirotoshi Onaka’s liner to center was played into a triple by the Bears’ Kerry Jenkins and Onaka scored on Drew Robinson’s ground out.
But Jae Yun Kim, Zach Jones, Garrett Weber and Danny Pulfer hit solo homers over in the next three innings.
Only Kim’s, a 298-foot floating fly ball into the right-field grotto, wasn’t stroked with authority.
All that from a 4-8 Bears team that came in hitting .189 as a team and with one home run all season.
“Yeah, it is a funny game,” Hulett said. “You wonder how those type of things happen.”
But he didn’t have to wonder why the Indians are on a losing streak. They have made 10 errors in two nights and also had a couple of base-running mistakes Tuesday.
“We’ve got a lot of things to learn,” Hulett said. “It’s the typical type of season. Sometimes you win games and you get away with those plays and they don’t get recognized.
“When you lose, everybody recognizes them and say, ‘Oh, that’s part of the problem.’ But, you know, last year we were 2-9 and did a lot of the same stuff.”
Spokane tried to overcome its mistakes with the bats, scoring twice in the third – Onaka had his second triple of the night and Nick Vickerson and Brett Nicholas both had RBIs. The Indians added an unearned run in the fourth when second baseman Weber booted Onaka’s routine two-out ground ball. But they could get no closer than 5-4 against starter and winner Teo Gutierrez (2-0).
Yakima added two runs in the sixth, one unearned, and the Bears’ three relief pitchers combined on four innings of two-hit ball.
Adam had both of those hits, giving him 12 in his last 22 at-bats after starting the season 1 for his first 11. He’s hitting .394.
“Tonight was not a giveaway, necessarily,” said Hulett despite the half-dozen errors. “They hit a couple of hard shots, then we played a little add-on for them. We did give them one. They earned a couple of them.”
Hulett is sure of one thing. Despite the errors and recent lackluster starts, despite everything, the manager had a guarantee.
“We will get better,” he said, before picking up clipboard and heading into the clubhouse.
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