No one in Seafirst Stadium did their job any better than Todd Meady on Monday night.
Yet Meady is the pitcher with nothing next to his name in the box score this morning. No win, no save. Nothing but a string of impressive middle-inning relief numbers that were the story behind the Spokane Indians’ 6-5 comeback victory over the Eugene Emeralds.
Most of the applause from those still left from a crowd of 3,439 went to teammate Dave Willis, who drove home Juan LeBron with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning. But without Meady’s stingy work in relief of starter Justin Pedersen none of that would have mattered.
Meady, a 6-foot-3 right-hander and untouted 12th-round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals in 1995, came on with just one out in the second inning and the Indians trailing 5-0. His thankless task was to limit further damage while his teammates chipped away at Eugene’s big lead.
And he performed it almost flawlessly, limiting the Emeralds to just two hits and no runs over the next 5-2/3 innings. He retired 17 of the 19 batters he faced, including the last 10 in a row, before giving way to Ken Fitzpatrick (1-2), who picked up the win with three more innings of solid, scoreless relief work.
The Indians made sure the relief efforts of Meady and Fitzpatrick weren’t wasted by touching Eugene starter Ryan Schurman for a single run in the fifth and three more in the sixth.
They tied the game in the seventh on Dermal Brown’s run-scoring groundout off Emeralds reliever Brent Newell and won it with Willis clutch hit off loser Jacob Shumate (0-2) in the first extra inning.
Willis ripped his winning, one-out single just inside the left-field foul line to plate LeBron, who had opened the inning with a single to left and advanced to second when Doug Blosser walked.
Indians manager Jeff Garber gave complete credit for the win to Meady and Fitzpatrick, who struck out four and allowed just two hits in his three innings of work.
“I thought our bullpen in general Meady and Fitzpatrick were the key. Without their efforts, we have no chance to win the ballgame.
“Meady came in and shut them down that (second) inning and kept putting up zeroes. Every time we scored there in those middle innings, we went out and shut them down and that was the key to the ballgame.
“Both guys showed great aggressiveness on the mound and were great competitors out there. That kind of blended into our offense and pumped them up.”
The win gave the Indians a 6-2 record in their next-to-last homestand of the season and kept them within four games of Boise - a 7-5 winner over Everett - in the Northwest League North Division standings.
The Tribe opens a crucial three-game series against the Hawks tonight in Boise, and Garber said nothing but a sweep will do.
“If we don’t win all three games it’s over,” he said. “But I want my team to go in there relaxed and enjoy it, because being four games out, we’re expected to lose.
“We really, at this point, are grasping for our last breath, so I just want us to go in there and let it all hang out.”
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