The Spokane Indians, with a 16-17 record, are in a playoff race. Yes, you read that right.
The clustered Northwest League North division is up for grabs with five games to play in the first-half season, which ends on Monday. Tri-City is leading at 17-16, with the other three trailing each by one game.
The Indians have won three of their last four series to catapult themselves into the playoff picture.
Spokane ends the first half with a five-game series at Boise, who the Indians took four out of five against earlier in the season. The Hawks are tied with Salem-Keizer for the Northwest League’s worst record at 14-19, but have been decent at home, posting a 9-8 record at Memorial Stadium.
Tri-City hosts Hillsboro (16-17), Vancouver has a home series with league-leading Eugene (23-10) — who has already clinched the south division, and Everett travels to Salem-Keizer (14-19).
With only five games left to play, there is a reasonable chance of a first-place tie. Below is a breakdown on which team would capture the first-half title in each tiebreaker scenario. For reference, here is the Northwest League’s playoff procedures.
Two way ties:
Spokane and Everett tie: Everett wins.
- The AquaSox hold a 4-2 record over the Indians.
Spokane and Vancouver tie: Vancouver wins.
- Despite taking two out of three in their last series, the Canadians hold a 5-4 record over the Indians.
Spokane and Tri-City tie: Spokane wins.
- The Indians won their three-game series against Tri-City, the only time the two teams have met this season.
Everett and Vancouver tie: Everett wins.
- The AquaSox are 2-1 against the Canadians this season.
Everett and Tri-City tie: Tri-City wins.
- The Dust Devils are 6-3 against the AquaSox this year.
Vancouver and Tri-City tie: Tri-City wins.
- The Dust Devils are 4-2 against the Canadians.
Everett, Tri-City and Spokane tie: Tri-City wins.
- Tri-City takes the crown with the best record within the North division at 11-7.
Everett, Vancouver and Spokane tie: Everett wins.
- The AquaSox have winning records against the Indians and the Canadians.
Vancouver, Tri-City and Spokane tie: Tri-City wins.
- With no clear cut head-to-head advantage between the three teams, the Dust Devil’s 11-7 north division record gives them the title.
Vancouver, Tri-City and Everett: Tri-City wins.
- The Dust Devils have winning records against the AquaSox and the Canadians.
Four-way tie: Tri-City wins.
- The Dust Devils have head-to-head advantages over Everett and Vancouver and a division-best 11-7 record.
Turner “should be fine” after being hit in elbow
Indians third baseman Xavier Turner left Wednesday’s game after being plunked in the elbow by a pitch, but manager Tim Hulett doesn’t expect any major complications.
“I think he should be fine,” Hulett said after the 7-2 win over Vancouver. “A lot of times a guy gets hit there, it just really hurts … it’s not always an X-ray thing if you get hit in the upper arm.”
Turner made the trip with the team to Boise and trainers are waiting for swelling to subside before further examinations can be done.
AquaSox’s Lewis out for the season
Everett outfielder Kyle Lewis, the Mariners first-round pick in 2016 Major League Baseball draft, is out for the season — and possibly longer — after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in addition to a torn medial and lateral meniscus in his right knee. Lewis was leading the Northwest League with 26 RBIs.
“He’s a really good player. A very good player,” Hulett said. “We wish him the best because you hate to see a guy like that with that kind of talent to go down.”'
Indians outfielder Chad Smith, who grew up with Lewis in Snellville, Georgia and was teammates with him for one year in high school, said he was bummed to see him go down.
"That's tough for him to go through that injury. It sucks," Smith said. "From my perspective, I feel for him. Not something that you want to happen."
Last night: Nick Green threw five solid innings and the Indians won 7-2 over Vancouver in a key division series. Read about Green’s story and the win.
Tonight: Spokane begins a five-game series with the Boise Hawks.