Limiting opponents to four hits in 12 innings would be enough to win 99 percent of games for this year’s Spokane Indians.
A surprising night from the Boise pitching staff made Thursday night one of those rare occurrences.
Boise, coming into the game with a Northwest League-worst ERA of 4.78, allowed two Indians hits in 12 innings to win 2-1. The Indians wasted a brilliant pitching performance from starter David Smith, who retired the first 18 batters he faced.
With the loss, Spokane drops into a tie for first in the East Division with Tri-City, which whipped Yakima 13-3.
Boise scored the winning run in the top of the 12th against Spokane reliever Tom Van Buskirk (2-2).
Jonathan Mota led off the inning with a single, and stole second. Davy Gregg couldn’t get Mota to third with a sacrifice, eventually putting a bunt down – but Mota and Gregg both thought the ball hit Gregg instead of the bat. Gregg was easily thrown out, and Mota never moved 10 feet off second base.
Van Buskirk struck out John Defendis, and went to two strikes on Chris Gaskin before hitting him with a pitch. Shortstop Kyle Reynolds followed by fouling off two 1-2 pitches from Van Buskirk, then singling into right field to score Mota for the 2-1 lead.
“(Boise) did good. We didn’t hit,” Spokane manager Greg Riddoch said. “Two hits, and you can’t score many runs with two hits.”
Spokane had a couple chances, starting in the first inning against Hawks starter Darin Downs.
Downs walked the bases loaded with two outs, but struck out K.C. Herren swinging on a fastball to end the inning, one of 15 Indians strikeouts in 37 at-bats.
German Duran provided Spokane’s only run in the bottom of the third, when he lined a 2-2 fastball just inside the left-field foul pole for his fourth homer of the year and a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Indians had an opportunity to grab another late-inning win, when Duran led off by driving the ball deep to center. Gregg tracked the ball all the way to the wall, leaping to grab Duran’s drive halfway up the fence.
Again, the Indians had an opportunity in the bottom of the 10th, when Joe Kemp hit a two-out triple, but Joey Hooft stranded him there.
Smith retired 11 of his first 18 batters on groundouts, breezing through Boise’s order twice without a problem before Gregg led off the seventh with a line-drive single into center, breaking up the perfect game.
After a sacrifice bunt and a fly out, Reynolds tripled into left-center to tie the game and chase Smith.
“I wasn’t really looking to give Reynolds anything to hit,” Smith said. “He took the curveball the other way. He hit a good pitch.”
The earned run was only the seventh Smith has allowed this year in 461/3 innings, good for a 1.36 ERA.
“I was just throwing strikes mainly, trying not to walk anybody today and just put the ball in the zone,” Smith said.
“I was trying to put my fastball to spots and keep it low. I’m not going to strike a whole lot of guys out. I’ll just keep the ball down and let them put it on the ground.”
Prior to Thursday night’s game, Spokane catcher Taylor Teagarden had hit in eight of his last nine games, going 13 for 26 (.500) with four homers in that span. … Wednesday night’s ninth-inning comeback was the Indians’ eighth victory in a game in which they trailed in the seventh inning or later. … Tonight’s probable starters: Spokane RHP Doug Mathis (3-6, 2.82) vs. Boise RHP Mitch Atkins (2-6, 5.68).
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