The Spokane Indians may have come up short on the scoreboard Sunday at Avista Stadium, but it certainly wasn’t because of Lizahio Baez.
Salem-Keizer banged out a 9-5 Northwest League victory over Spokane, its second straight victory after opening the five-game series with three straight losses, but Baez did some banging of his own.
The Dominican-born catcher, who was sent down from Clinton, Iowa, to the Indians on July 7, homered from both sides of the plate for the second time this season.
He’s played in 18 games since being demoted and has eight home runs – all of them coming in the 11 games he’s played at Avista.
Baez, who played with the Indians last year, has said he feels at home in Spokane. But aside from that, he also likes the field’s dimensions.
“The way Avista plays,” said Baez earlier in the series, “center field is just straight. In Tri-City, the field feels like it is raised… to my eye level almost.”
Another fact that didn’t escape Indians manager Greg Riddoch is that Baez, who has hit seven of his home runs when he is catching, has been playing catcher more with the Indians than he did with the LumberKings.
On top of his power, “he is also improving his catching,” said Riddoch.
“I don’t know,” said Baez, who finished 3 for 4 with two homers, three RBIs and two runs scored on the night. “I’ve just been able to focus more here.”
Baez’s first home run came in the fourth inning, a solo shot, from the left side off Volcanoes starter Sergio Romo to pull the Indians within 4-2. His second was a two-run shot off reliever Buck Cody from the right side to close the deficit to 8-5.
On the first home run, “the pitcher threw me a curveball and then a changeup,” said Baez. “So I’m like, ‘you’ve shown me your curve and your changeup, so now you have to come with your fastball.’ “
And sure enough he did.
Spokane starter Broc Coffman, who lasted just 4 1/3 innings, gave up six earned runs on nine hits to take his first loss of the season as his ERA went up to 4.26.
Will Thompson, who went 10 for 24 in the series, had a 4-for-5 night with a home run, double, two RBIs and three runs scored. His home run, in the ninth off of reliever Jon Wilson, capped the scoring for the Volcanoes.
The Indians (18-22) head to Vancouver for a five-game series beginning Tuesday. Spokane is tied with Tri-City for second place, one game behind East Division-leading Boise (19-21).
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