The Spokane Indians found a perfect remedy for a two-week case of sluggishness.
Given a dose of home cooking, the Indians returned to their winning ways Sunday with a 4-2 decision over the Vancouver Canadians to open an eight-game homestand at Avista Stadium.
The Indians, who started the season 22-8, had lost nine of their previous 13 games when they took the field for the first of three games against their prime North Division rivals.
Although Vancouver checked Spokane on five hits, the Indians took advantage of starter Zakery Wasilewski’s wildness in a four-run first inning that put the Canadians on their heels. Indians starter Reed Garrett (4-1) pitched five sharp innings and Shane McCain worked the final two innings for his third save as he lowered his earned-run average to 0.48.
Spokane boasts a record of 15-4 at Avista and the same mark against divisional rivals. The Canadians are 25-12 against the rest of the league but 2-5 against Spokane.
The South Division, in particular Boise and Salem-Keizer, knocked around the Indians in the last two weeks, but Spokane manager Tim Hulett doesn’t put much stock in the difference between the divisions.
“I think it’s more the home field than anything,” Hulett said. “Whether it’s the North or the South, we play pretty good against everybody here. It’s good to be home and have a little bit of energy behind us. Even though we didn’t play great, it was a classic game of two teams that traveled all night (Spokane from Keizer, Oregon, and Vancouver from home in British Columbia).”
Spokane struck early against Wasilewski (2-4). The first three batters, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Seth Spivey and Marcus Greene, all walked. Cleanup hitter Luke Tendler reached on an error by second baseman Christian Vazquez – who took his eyes off the ball to consider a double play – and Kiner-Falefa scored.
“It’s a completely different game if (Vazquez) makes that play, but, you know what, everybody makes errors so we’ll take it,” Hulett said.
Jose Trevino’s sacrifice fly to center field gave the Indians a 2-0 lead. Juremi Profar followed by blooping an RBI single to right and later scored on a passed ball.
The Canadians chipped away at the 4-0 deficit with Roemon Fields’ RBI single in the third against Garrett and Chris Carlson’s RBI single in the sixth against first reliever Austin Pettibone.
McCain, one of eight Indians recently named to the All-Star team, held Vancouver to an infield single over the final two innings. He struck out two and walked none, giving him 25 strikeouts and one walk in 18 2/3 innings this season.
“He’s been fantastic,” Hulett said. … “You turn around and look and he’s hardly given up any runs. He throws strikes, goes after hitters, and he has a great change-up and pounds the zone early. He’s probably been the surprise out of the bullpen.”
Indians outfielder Eduard Pinto missed his 10th consecutive game with a wrist injury. Pinto leads the league in batting at .362, ahead of teammate Spivey (.357). … Indians outfielder Luke Tendler had a 14-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday. … Indians outfielder Jose “Pepe” Cardona made his Avista debut. He was promoted from the Arizona Rookie League.