The Spokane Indians started strong but faded in the 100-degree heat on dog night Tuesday and lost 11-6 to the rival Vancouver Canadians.
Jason Hoppe got the first start of his professional career and the lanky kid from Rice, Minnesota, left after four innings with a 4-2 lead. But his fellow relievers were in a giving mood.
“Obviously, as a competitor, you want to go as many innings as you can,” Hoppe said. “But I knew the pitch count going in.”
Indians manager Tim Hulett pulled Hoppe after 54 pitches and put in Ryan Ledbetter. Ledbetter threw hard, but several of his pitches found the sweet spots of the Canadian bats. Ledbetter gave up six earned runs on eight hits in only an inning and a third.
“I thought Ledbetter did a good job,” Hoppe said. “Those were good pitches. That’s just how baseball is.”
Hulett agreed, saying that Ledbetter threw hard, but many of his pitches came in flat and allowed the Canadians to get good swings in front of an announced crowd of 4,349 people and 57 dogs.
“He hadn’t had a lot of work lately,” Hulett said, when asked why he trucked Ledbetter out again in the sixth inning after giving up the lead in the fifth. “I tried to give him a chance to make some adjustments. He wasn’t able to.”
The Indians, who are 3-5 since the break and 28-18 overall, jumped out to the lead when Eduard Pinto scored on a fielder’s choice hit by Seth Spivey.
The Indians tacked on three more runs in the second when Saquan Johnson hit a double up the first-base line and scored Juremi Profar. Isiah Kiner-Falefa then hit a single that scored both Charles Moorman and Johnson to push Spokane out front 4-0.
The Canadians cut the lead when Franklin Barreto smashed a two-run home run to right field off of Hoppe to make it 4-2 Spokane.
Hoppe pitched one more scoreless inning before Ledbetter came in the fifth inning and allowed three runs. That’s when Vancouver scored three runs to take the lead at 5-4. Spokane responded with two runs when Jose Trevino hit a double to score Ivey.
Trevino later scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-5 Spokane heading into the sixth inning.
But the Vancouver bats broke out for four runs to make it 9-6. The score remained that way until the ninth inning when the Indians thought they had a strikeout on a check swing with two outs.
But pinch hitter Michael De La Cruz used the extra pitch to smash a two-run double for the final score of 11-6.
”We were up and each time we let them back in,” Hulett said.
“We just couldn’t seem to make a pitch when we needed it.”
The Indians open up a five-game series with Hillsboro tonight.