You knew things were going the Spokane Indians’ way Saturday when they needed just six hits to post an 8-1 win.
Further, you knew the night belonged to the Indians when struggling pitcher Brett Weibley threw 2 2/3 shutout innings to earn his first professional win.
But the capper for Spokane during a charmed night came during the fifth inning, when the Indians scored their third run and most people at Avista Stadium had no idea why.
The Yakima Bears had the misfortune of being in Spokane’s way during the opening of a three-game Northwest League series that may be a preview of the first round of the playoffs. Spokane won the East Division’s first-half title and Yakima has taken the early lead in the second half.
Yakima took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth after four perfect innings by starter Brad Wilson (0-3). Wilson’s next inning, however, was anything but spotless.
Spokane’s Andrew Clark led off with a liner just over the head of shortstop Zach Walters. Two walks, one passed ball, one wild pitch and one error later, Spokane led 2-1 and Santiago Chirino stood at third base.
That’s when confusion took over.
Wilson called for a timeout, but home-plate umpire John Silva didn’t grant it. Wilson then wanted a new baseball and threw the other one toward the Indians’ dugout. What he – and many fans – didn’t realize was that the ball was live.
“I looked away to say something to (Chirino),” said Indians manager Tim Hulett, who serves as the club’s third-base coach, “and the next thing I hear was somebody yelling, ‘Go get it!’ ”
Chirino scored as Wilson chased down the ball, and the Indians tacked on another run as Jared Hoying doubled for his team-high 34th RBI.
Weibley (1-1), who entered with an earned-run average of 10.47, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth with a double play, and had little trouble in the seventh.
Weibley relieved Tim Stanford in the fifth and needed just one pitch to end that inning with a double play.
“I threw a fastball low and away at the knees and let (Kawika Emsley-Pai) hit the ball into the ground,” said Weibley, a converted pitcher who played infield until midway through college.
Stanford, who made his first start, continued his remarkable streak that began one month ago. Stanford (0.66 ERA) has allowed just 13 hits and one earned run in his last 22 1/3 innings.
“He doesn’t have a power fastball … but he’s been pitching with confidence and throws four pitches for strikes,” Weibley said.
Held to three hits through seven innings, Spokane caught fire in the eighth with Jurickson Profar’s leadoff homer to left field and Clark Murphy’s two-run double to left-center.
Spokane outfielder Josh Richmond took the night off but wasn’t seriously injured from running into the outfield wall while chasing a fly ball during Friday’s game. … Across the state, Boise forfeited to Everett in the second inning because the Hawks believed the soggy field at Everett Memorial Stadium was unplayable.
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