Nick Gardewine and Juremi Profar had waited long enough.
Starting pitcher Gardewine won for the first time in three weeks and Profar hit his first home run with the Spokane Indians during Saturday’s 8-3 win over the Everett AquaSox.
Gardewine (6-3) took over the club lead for wins with six innings of two-hit shutout ball. He struck out eight, including four straight starting in the top of the fifth, and allowed no hits in the second through the fifth innings.
“My slider, for sure, was a big pitch tonight,” Gardewine said after the Indians won their second consecutive game at Avista Stadium and clinched the series 2-1. “I just went to it whenever I could. Even in situations where I normally wouldn’t go to it, I just trusted it. I know I struck a guy out on a fastball, for sure, but most of them were on sliders.”
Gardewine, who won his first four starts of the Northwest League season, had allowed 12 hits and 12 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings during his last two starts.
“… All of a sudden, it clicked for Nick,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “He started to get ahead of hitters. He has pretty good stuff and he started putting hitters away. He’s had some rough outings so it was good to see because he has a good, live fastball.”
Profar aided Gardewine’s cause with a no-out, two-run homer to left field in the fourth for a 4-0 lead. Profar had gone 181 at-bats with the Indians without a homer. He has two homers in 433 pro at-bats, collecting one earlier this year at Hickory, North Carolina.
“I was just looking for a good pitch and I put on a good swing,” said Profar, who called the pitch from Jeffeson Medina (1-5) an inside fastball. … “I want to hit for contact, with more hits. (Hitting homers) doesn’t matter to me.”
“I don’t think he wanted to end the season with no home runs,” Hulett said. “I think that’s been part of his problem the last 3-4 weeks. He’s trying to get off the goose egg with the home runs. But it’s funny, he did a little extra work today and it paid off with a home run.”
The Indians, North Division first-half champions, improved to 6-10 for the second half and pulled within two games of first-place Everett (8-8). Vancouver and Tri-City are a game back at 7-9.
The Indians begin a six-game road trip tonight with the first of three games at Everett. They play three at Tri-City starting Wednesday.
“I’d like to see us get a couple of series wins on the road, because it’s a couple of important series within our division,” Hulett said. “We don’t know who’s going to be our foe in the playoffs, so you want to send that message and play well.”
Spokane’s Luke Tendler moved within one RBI of the league lead with RBI singles in the first and seventh. Vancouver’s Franklin Barreto leads the way with 45. Spokane’s Jose Trevino is at 43 after an RBI in the seventh with his club-leading 16th double.