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Spokane Indians blank Yakima Bears

Will the real Spokane Indians please stand up?

Because this second-half team – the one making fewer defensive errors, coming up with hits (timely ones, at that) and taking control from the mound – doesn’t look like the same team that finished last in the first half of the Northwest League season.

They look … good.

In fact, they looked great on Saturday night as three pitchers combined for Spokane’s third shutout of the season and the Indians had as many hits as they did runs in a 7-0 victory over the Yakima Bears in front of 5,659 fans at Avista Stadium.

“A lot of times in the first half we got either pitching and no hitting or some hitting and bad pitching – but you have to play  every game,” said right-hander Ryan Harvey, a 2012 18th-round draft selection by the Texas Rangers.

After starter Jose Valdespina worked the first four innings for Spokane – giving up four hits, striking out four and walking two – Harvey went in for three innings of relief. Harvey struck out five and allowed one hit with no walks, before Alec Asher replaced him in the eighth and struck out three in two hitless innings.

“Championship teams put it all together most nights, and we weren’t putting things together at the same time,” Harvey said. “We know we didn’t have a good first half, but that’s behind us now and we have a chance here in the second half to make a run for the playoffs.”

The Indians (15-28, 3-2 second half) are certainly backing up that talk so far. They’re tied with first-half East Division champion Yakima (3-2) and Boise (3-2) for first in the division, and two games ahead of last-place Tri-City (1-4).

Spokane, Boise, Yakima and Everett (West Division) share the league’s best record in the second half.

“It’s nice to get a do-over here in the second half, but it didn’t just happen,” Indians manager Tim Hulett pointed out. “For about 20 days now we’ve been hitting it extremely hard and it’s starting to pay off.”

Especially at the plate – where Spokane, which was also last in team batting through the first half – has struggled mightily.

Gabriel Roa, the first Spokane player to bat over .300 since early in the season, was 2 for 3 with three RBIs, including a pair in the bottom of the second, when Roa singled to right and drove in Joe Maloney and Preston Beck.

Smerling Lantigua, Saquan Johnson and Patrick Cantwell each had a hit and an RBI.

“It was a good night,” Hulett said. “We had a lot of hits early on, but we didn’t have many runs. We turned that around and ended up with some timely hits tonight, which was really nice to see.

“They helped us out with some walks, but we swung the bats pretty well – a lot better than we’ve seen out of the guys.”

“It’s kind of like a brand-new season,” Harvey added.