Luke Tendler and Alberto Triunfel collected the key hits Saturday night, but their gloves drew as much praise as their bats.
Triunfel’s double staked Spokane to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and Tendler added a solo home run in the third as the Indians started the Northwest League season 2-0 for the first time since 2009 with a 5-3 win over Eugene.
Triunfel also had two slick plays at shortstop in the fourth inning, while Tendler made two superb catches in right field in the sixth.
The five-game series continues today with the first of six scheduled afternoon games at Avista Stadium this season.
Triunfel, a returner from the 2013 Indians team that started 1-6, lashed a two-out, two-run double to left field off Emeralds starter Michael Kelly (0-1) in his first at-bat of the season.
“It’s good to have him back and he can really pick it at short,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “He made a couple of great plays in the (fourth) inning up the middle. He picked a short hop on the run and then the second play was almost exactly like it. He made them both look easy.”
Tendler lined his homer to right with two outs in the third, moments after Jose Trevino’s RBI grounder gave Spokane a 3-1 lead. It was the first professional hit for Tendler, a 29th-round draft selection this month out of North Carolina A&T.
“I have to stay with my approach and not try to hit home runs every time,” Tendler said. … “I have enough power to get it out pretty much in any ball park, but at the same time I’m just trying to get hits and do my job as a baseball player.”
In the sixth, with the Indians protecting a 5-1 lead, Tendler took away a hit from Jalen Goree with a sliding catch and robbed Marcus Davis of a potential homer with a catch against the wall.
“He got a great jump on the (Goree) ball,” Hulett said. “He’s played a lot of shortstop in college and hasn’t played that much outfield, so that shows you what kind of athlete he is.”
“I just had to get a read off the wall and make the catch going into the wall, and try to stay healthy and not get hurt,” Tendler said. “That would have been close (to a homer). It would have snuck over or gone off the top of the wall.”
Indians starter Richelson Pena (1-0) worked six innings, allowing five hits and no earned runs. He struck out three and walked none.
Spokane’s first reliever, Greg Williams, made his first appearance since he had Tommy John surgery in October 2012 and was dinged for a two-out, two-run single by Edwin Moreno in the seventh. Williams also struck out the side.
“He battled and he’s going to get back to figuring out it’s not just about throwing hard, but locating it a little bit better,” Hulett said. “But I liked what I saw.”
The game drew 6,709 after a season-opening crowd of 6,882.
Spokane lefty Derek Thompson is scheduled to start this afternoon against righty Walker Lockett.
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