Since they were already dressed for the occasion, Cody Kendall and the Spokane Indians figured they’d start the fireworks early.
Wearing special red, white and blue jerseys for the Fourth of July, three Indians pitchers were explosive from the mound in Northwest League action on Wednesday night, as Spokane earned a 2-0 shutout of the first-place Yakima Bears in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,884 at Avista Stadium.
“Tonight the crowd and the energy was all for us,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said.
“With that crowd, well, we had to win – look what we’re wearing,” said Kendall, who was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the eighth round of this year’s MLB draft.
Kendall pitched the sixth and seventh innings, replacing starter Abel De Los Santos, and allowed just one hit to earn the hold for Spokane (8-12).
De Los Santos – who improved to 3-1 – struck out four, walked two and allowed a pair of hits in five innings before he was replaced by Kendall.
Josh McElwee, who had Tommy John surgery in 2011, closed for Spokane in the eighth and ninth, allowing three hits and striking out three to earn his second save of the season.
“We threw a lot of strikes early in the counts and pitched ahead all night long,” Hulett said. “Kendall and McElwee came in for De Los Santos, who gave us a real good start, and those two threw good breaking balls in their innings to put guys away.
“They got some hits, but we did a good job of not letting it cost us.”
The Indians also came up with a couple of well-timed hits, which allowed them to take the early lead over the Bears (11-9).
Gonzaga product Royce Bolinger reached first on a throwing error to lead off the bottom of the second, and advanced to third when Cam Schiller singled on a bunt.
With no outs, Yakima starter Daniel Watts hit Spokane catcher Patrick Cantwell to load the bases. Bolinger scored on the next play on Guy Edmonds’ sacrifice fly to right. But the Bears picked up the final two outs before Spokane could send any more runners home.
“Guy had a great at-bat, that was a big run for us,” Hulett said. “That was the big difference … our hits were timed better than theirs.”
In the third, Ryan Rua added to the Indians’ lead when he homered to left for his team-leading second home run of the season.
“We swung the bats well enough to pick up a couple of runs, and I think our pitching stepped it up tonight,” Hulett said. “We threw some really good guys at them and they did what we needed them to do and that was huge for us.”
Spokane’s three-game series with Yakima continues tonight at Avista Stadium and wraps up on Friday. The Indians will then hit the road and begin a three-game series at Tri-City on Saturday. After a day off on Tuesday, they will return home for an eight-game homestand.