Spokane Indians hanging on in playoff chase
Tim Hulett isn’t bothering with scoreboard watching. The Spokane Indians manager is focused on his team and he likes what he sees.
The Indians shut down Everett’s offense for the second straight night, limiting the AquaSox to three hits en route to a 3-0 Northwest League baseball victory Thursday in front of 4,285 at Avista Stadium.
The victory, which followed Wednesday’s 3-1 win, didn’t change the playoff picture. With two regular-season games remaining, Tri-City remains a game in front of Yakima in the East Division second-half standings. If Tri-City adds the second-half title to its first-half crown, the second playoff berth goes to the team with the second-best overall record. Boise (35-39), which knocked off Vancouver 4-2, is one game ahead of Spokane (34-40). If the teams tie, Spokane holds the tiebreaker.
“If we don’t win, it doesn’t matter what anybody else is doing,” Hulett said. “We couldn’t buy a win for a week, now all of a sudden we feel like a good team. We’re playing very solid. If we get into the playoffs, we know we can give it a pretty good run.”
Left-handed pitcher Chris Hanna (4-2) didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the fifth inning. He worked seven innings, allowing just three hits while striking out seven. Hanna has been an effective starter after coming out of the bullpen for 11 of his 17 appearances.
“Starting is where I feel comfortable,” Hanna said, “but where ever they put me I’m going to work.”
The only AquaSox runner to advance as far as third base was Jabari Blash, who doubled and moved up on Hanna’s wild pitch in the seventh inning. Hanna struck out Ramon Morla and left fielder Trever Adams’ diving catch robbed James Wood of extra bases.
“I threw a fastball, I thought I could get it by (Wood),” Hanna said. “Trever got a great jump on it and he made a tremendous play. I shook his hand after that.”
Reliever Jerad Eickhoff fanned two in one inning and Matt West earned his second save in two nights with a 1-2-3 ninth.
“Chris really commanded the strike zone with all his pitches, especially his change-up,” Hulett said. “His change-up was extra special. I think they had a tough time making the adjustment.”
Spokane moved in front 1-0 in the second. Yefry Castillo doubled, moved to third on Jimmy Swift’s single and scored when second baseman Jetsy Extrano dropped the ball trying to turn a double play.
The Indians added two more runs in the fifth. Guillermo Pimentel and Zach Cone scored on Rougned Odor’s triple to right-center, but Hanser Alberto was cut down at home by a nice relay throw.
“Odor has been a great hitter all year, but he’s struggled a little in the second half,” Hulett said. “He gives us quality at bats all the time.”
Eight Indians had at least one hit.