Indians dance past Boise for sweep
Spokane Indians right fielder Preston Beck isn’t considering a career change – though if he was, he looked primed for a “Dancing with the Stars” audition during batting practice on Wednesday evening.
“That’s how we roll,” Indians manager Tim Hulett joked. “Maybe that’s why he had four hits today.”
And maybe Beck’s boogieing, not to mention his 4-for-4 performance at the plate, helped the Indians stay in their current groove as they picked up their fourth straight Northwest League win and a sweep of their three-game series with Boise with a 6-2 decision in front of 3,463 fans at Avista Stadium.
“The turnaround is nice,” said Beck, the Texas Rangers’ fifth-round pick in this year’s draft. “We’re getting used to each other and having a lot of fun and we’re starting to come together as a team.”
Not to mention, the Indians (5-8) seem to have learned from some of their mistakes.
Hampered by errors in several of their losses this season, the Indians have cleaned up their act on defense, and early in Wednesday’s game they found themselves on the opposite end of the error spectrum.
“We got a little help from them,” Hulett said.
That aid came in the second inning.
With one runner on and one out, Patrick Cantwell reached first on a throwing error before Boise (4-9) starter Tayler Scott (0-1) walked Joe Maloney to load the bases.
With two outs and the bases still loaded, Christopher Garia drove in Barrett Serrato – who led the inning off with a double – to give the Indians a 1-0 lead, and shortstop Gabriel Roa followed with a single that turned into a Little League grand slam.
Roa knocked Scott’s fastball up the middle, scoring Cantwell and Maloney, and a throwing error from Boise allowed Garia and Roa to score and give Spokane a 5-0 lead – all unearned runs – before the frame ended.
“They made the errors and we didn’t and we took advantage of it,” Hulett said.
“That was us in those first innings at the start of the year and (the errors) were killing us,” Beck added. “But we’re playing a lot better defense, I think that’s the biggest key.”
Not to mention the fact that Spokane’s pitching staff had another solid night as starter Jose Valdespina (1-1) held the Hawks to two runs and struck out three in five innings.
Recent roster addition Jose Monegro, who Texas picked up in 2008 as a free agent and most recently spent time with the Rangers’ advanced A affiliate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., struck out four in three scoreless innings for the hold.
Carlos Melo gave up two hits and closed in the ninth.
“Valdespina really pitched a great game over in Everett (in his second start),” Hulett said. “He wasn’t quite as sharp today, but he did a good job of making pitches when he needed to and getting through the fifth inning, and then our relief guys really shut it down.
“Somebody was talking earlier about how (all the players) seem like they feel comfortable in their own skin now,” Hulett added. “They’re having fun in BP … and I think they’re starting to relax a little bit.”
Spokane begins a six-game road trip today, beginning with three games in Boise, followed by three more in Yakima – its first meeting with the East Division-leading Bears this season.
The Indians return home on Wednesday and will host Yakima for three more games.