The Spokane Indians had some shaky moments on Thursday, but Luke Tendler served as a steadying influence.
Tendler drove in four runs with two doubles and a home run and made a sparkling play in right field as the Indians completed a six-game homestand with a 5-2 win over the Tri-City Dust Devils.
“It’s been a while,” Tender said of his 3-for-4 night in which each hit was pulverized. “I was just going up there and trying to have productive at-bats.”
“He just had one of those nights where he scalded the ball,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “Whenever we had runners in scoring position, he drove them in.”
The Indians (19-8) won the series 2-1 and the homestand 4-2. Spokane is 12-3 at Avista Stadium and has won six of seven Northwest League series overall this summer.
The Indians also maintained their three-game lead over Vancouver (16-11) in the North Division with the first half of the season down to 11 games.
Spokane begins an eight-game road trip tonight in Pasco against the same Dust Devils (11-16). The Indians will cap the first half of the season July 19-21 at home against Everett.
Tendler righted the ship several times when the Indians needed assistance.
He started in the top of the first inning, making a diving catch on Cesar Galvez’s one-out liner to right-center. The grab likely saved a run because the next batter, Sean Dwyer, singled.
“I got a little bit of a late read on it,” Tendler said. “I thought it was hit more to center field, but then I realized that I had the chance to get it because I got a good jump. I tried to keep my eye on the ball when I was midair. I felt like once I got it in my glove it wasn’t going to come out.”
In the bottom of the first, Tendler lashed a 3-2 pitch to right-center for an RBI double and 1-0 lead.
Two Indians errors aided Tri-City’s two-run second, but Tendler evened the score with a massive homer to right to lead off the fourth.
“It’s been a long time, actually back in college, the last time I hit one like that,” Tendler said. “Nobody could tell me how long it was, but I thought it went pretty far. I don’t really care. I was just happy it went over the fence.”
“It’s hard to tell (distance) because of the short fence there, because anything that goes out looks really long, but he got all of that one,” Hulett said.
The one time Tendler faltered was in the fifth, when he struck out with the bases loaded when a grand slam would have won a truck for a fan in the night’s promotion. Marcus Greene followed with a two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch for the go-ahead run.
Tendler’s one-out, two-run double in the seventh to the same spot he reached in the first inning capped the scoring.
Tendler is No. 2 in league batting (.358), behind teammate Seth Spivey (.385). Eduard Pinto and Spivey, hitting 1-2 in the lineup, were a combined 5 for 7 and on base nine times.
Richelson Pena (4-1) earned the win, allowing no earned runs and striking out seven in five innings. Johnny Fasola earned his third save, striking out six in two innings.