Right now, the diamond at Avista Stadium isn’t anyone’s best friend. Certainly not the Spokane Indians’.
But there’s not much manager Tim Hulett can say about his team’s current slump – the numbers at the plate, the results from the mound, the pricey fielding and throwing errors – that he hasn’t said already.
And instead of sounding like a broken record, Hulett would rather see a big hit, which was again missing from Spokane’s game on Friday night as the Indians lost their eighth straight contest, 4-2 to the Eugene Emeralds, in front of 4,004 fans at Avista Stadium.
“We got a few hits, but we didn’t have anybody on when we got them to bring guys in and that’s what it’s going to take to get us out of this funk,” said Hulett, whose Indians are last in the league with an 8-20 record.
“It’s frustrating for everyone,” said Spokane catcher Patrick Cantwell, who went 2 for 4 in the loss and was the only player for the Indians to finish with multiple hits.
“We know we’re better than this,” he added. “Tonight we battled to the end and we’re starting to hit it better. We’ve been playing better, so it’s just a matter of sticking with it until we’re through this.”
There were encouraging moments in the loss – a pair of spectacular throws from Preston Beck in the outfield that robbed Eugene of two doubles, more quality at-bats, decent pitching and a clean display of defense.
But the Indians left eight runners on base and went 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position as Eugene won its third straight in the five-game series that wraps up tonight and Sunday.
“It’s definitely discouraging,” Cantwell said, “but we’re still going out and competing and not giving at-bats away for the most part.”
After Eugene scored a run in the top of the first, Guy Edmonds put Spokane on the board in the second with a sacrifice fly that scored Ryan Rua, who led off the inning with a single.
In the third, Spokane’s speedy Chris Garia led off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a bunt from Rua to put runners on the corners with no outs.
Garia eventually scored, which tied the game at 2, on a sacrifice popout to Eugene first baseman Dane Phillips.
The Indians weren’t able to manufacture any more runs after that.
The Emeralds (16-11) added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 4-2 lead, and Spokane put two runners on in the sixth, but a double play ended the inning.
Spokane also had the go-ahead run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
“It’s tough to string hits together, but that’s obviously what needs to be done and we’ve been coming up real short lately on that end,” Cantwell said. “Guys have been more selective and we’ve been getting a few more guys on base. Now we’re just waiting for a little bit of momentum.”
Clearing the bases
Gonzaga product Royce Bolinger extended his hitting streak to six games and doubled for his fourth straight game. … After Spokane wraps up the five-game series with Eugene, it will host the Tri-City Dust Devils for three games beginning Monday.