The Vancouver Canadians are known for their pitching, speed and lack of power.
The pitching and speed made their usual appearance on Saturday, but the Canadians displayed a rare home-run swing to tighten the Northwest League North Division standings.
Jonathan Davis’ two-run homer to the short porch in right field in the second inning highlighted the Canadians’ 5-1 win over the Spokane Indians in the middle game of a three-game series at Avista Stadium.
Davis’ homer was the fourth of the season for Vancouver and the first by any player other than first baseman Ryan McBroom. Davis entered the game in a 4-for-36 slump and struck out three times, but his homer was the key hit as the Canadians (14-9) pulled within two games of first-place Spokane (16-7).
“I said today when we were in the locker room, ‘I’m going to get one out today,’ and I got it,” Davis said. “We have a lot of great hitters on this team. It just hasn’t opened up for a lot of guys yet, but it’s soon to come.”
Canadians starter Miguel Castro (3-1) baffled Spokane with a mixture of sliders, fastballs and change-ups, allowing two hits and no earned runs in five innings. Castro, who also defeated the Indians on June 20, struck out six to give him 27 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings this season.
“That’s a big-time prospect there,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “We saw him (in Vancouver) and he dominated us over there. I think we had a few more hits (four) over there, but he did a good job and you have to bring your ‘A’ game when you face somebody like that.”
The Canadians also used their speed to generate a third-inning run for a 3-0 lead. Roemon Fields singled to right, went to second on his league-leading 19th steal, took third on a wild pitch and scored on McBroom’s sacrifice fly to center.
“One through nine (in the batting order) can steal bases, so we look to get on, get over, and have someone drive us in,” said Davis, who played three seasons for Central Arkansas before the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him in the 15th round last year. “We live off of our speed and off of our pitching.”
The second consecutive capacity crowd (6,941) at Avista had little to cheer as the Indians lost for the second time in 11 games on their home field.
Spokane’s Seth Spivey led off the fourth with a bouncer that went between McBroom’s legs for an error. Luke Tendler followed with his 12th RBI, a double deep to center that cut Vancouver’s lead to 3-1.
But Castro fanned the next three batters, getting what appeared to be favorable calls from home-plate umpire Alex Trujillo. Hulett had a few words for Trujillo while leaving the field from the third-base coaching box.
“There were a couple (of wide strikes) at key times with a guy in scoring position, but we didn’t swing the bats well tonight,” Hulett said.
Jose Trevino, tied for the league lead with five homers after hitting two on Friday, was scratched from Spokane’s lineup when his neck stiffened up after batting practice. He said he was fine following the game. … Spokane has four hitters among the top seven in NWL batting average.