It’s hard to tell if the Vancouver Canadians are off to that hot of a start, or if the Spokane Indians are still thawing out. Either way, things aren’t going the Indians’ way just yet.
The good news: The Northwest League season is only four days old.
More good news: The Indians are still technically atop the NWL East Division standings, despite having just one win so far after the Vancouver Canadians beat Spokane 9-1 in front of 2,796 fans on Monday night at Avista Stadium.
“The scoreboard doesn’t really show everything tonight – we hit some pretty good balls today,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “I can remember about six balls that were really smoked, but we ended up with nothing to show for it.”
The Canadians (3-1), on the other hand, had plenty to show for it.
“Things went their way,” Hulett said. “They got some breaks, we made a couple of mistakes, and they capitalized on it.”
Vancouver got to work early, taking a 2-0 lead over Spokane (1-3) in the first that it carried into the third.
Indians second baseman Nick Vickerson’s throwing error on a routine grounder allowed Dalton Pompey to reach first. Nicholas Baligod followed with a double to right before Balbino Fuenmayor blasted a two-run double to left.
The Indians got their only hit – and lone run – of the game in the third when Gabriel Roa doubled on a line drive to center, sending Christopher Garia across the plate to pull within one run of the Canadians.
“It wasn’t really a big deficit in the fourth, we were in the game,” Hulett said.
But Vancouver widened the gap again in the fifth, thanks to Fuenmayor and Dalton Pompey.
After Indians starter Abel De Los Santos (0-1) walked Pompey, he eventually scored on a throwing error. One batter later, Fuenmayor’s solo home run to right, his second of the season, gave Vancouver a 4-1 lead, which it added to with solo runs in the sixth and seventh.
De Los Santos made his Indians debut on the mound. The Domincan Republic native gave up four hits and struck out six before reliever Carlos Melo replaced him in the fifth. Joseph Burns relieved Melo and pitched two innings and Ryan Harvey closed for Spokane in the ninth.
In the top of the ninth, Canadians catcher Dan Klein also homered for the second time this season with a three-run blast to left field.
“They hit well and we had a tough time at the plate and I think it kind of deflates you when you swing the bat well and you can’t get anything going,” Hulett said of Spokane’s offensive effort.
“The mistakes we are making … they don’t bother me as much as the guys still needing to feel out the team aspect,” Hulett added. “There really isn’t a leader in the dugout yet that’s taking charge, and I think over a period of time that’ll happen. I think going on the road will be good for us.”
Right-hander Eric Brooks will start on the mound for Spokane and Javier Avendano will start for Vancouver as the five-game series with Vancouver wraps up tonight at Avista Stadium.