Andrew Suarez didn’t work enough innings during his four previous starts to qualify for a win.
Given the ease with which he mowed down the Spokane Indians on Thursday, Suarez earned the green light to enter new territory.
Suarez (1-0) hurled five innings of one-hit ball, requiring just 52 pitches, and picked up his first professional victory during a 5-0 decision over the Indians at Avista Stadium.
“My pitch count is 65, but this is the first time I went five innings because they don’t want to push me, which I understand completely,” said Suarez, the San Francisco Giants’ second-round selection in June out of the University of Miami.
The Volcanoes (10-5 second half of the Northwest League season) have won the first two games of the five-game series from the Indians (6-9).
Suarez, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound left-hander, faced the minimum numbers of batters (15) during his five innings. The only hit against him was LeDarious Clark’s sharp single to left field to lead off the first. The Volcanoes turned a 4-6-3 double play to wipe away that base runner.
In Spokane’s second inning, after a one-out infield error, Salem-Keizer turned a 4-6-3 double play.
“They’re big, especially with the first-inning leadoff hit,” Suarez said. “I got a double play right after that so it just made me a little more relaxed.”
Suarez retired the final 10 batters he faced. S-K’s first reliever, Nate Santiago, retired eight consecutive batters until Diego Cedeno’s two-out single to center in the eighth.
“You hope that guy (Suarez) runs out of pitches in the fifth inning and then maybe you get the next guy,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “So then they turn around and bring in a righty (Santiago), who throws 93, 94 (mph) with a slider instead of a lefty throwing 93, 94 with a slider.”
The Indians have fared poorly against lefties all season.
“We kept our streak going,” Hulett said. “But that was a little bit different kind of lefty. We haven’t faced a lot of power lefties like that. Most of them are guys who are sinking the ball away and throwing changeups. This guy was coming right after us. There was no trickery involved tonight.”
“I made sure to pitch my game,” Suarez said. “That’s what I do. I go after hitters. Especially the first time around, I’m going to go with a lot of fastballs. .. After that I just went off-speed and kept attacking that.”
Indians starter Emerson Martinez (4-4) struggled through a 32-pitch, two-run first inning. He was hurt by Ronnie Jebavy’s ground ball that third baseman Dean Long lost in the sun for a single, and C.J. Hinojosa’s potential inning-ending, double-play grounder bobbled by shortstop Dylan Moore.
“It was hit to the guy with sure hands,” Hulett said of Moore. “He’s not perfect. He’s made a few errors this year, but he’s been really solid the whole year.”
Chris Shaw and Fernando Pujadas drove in two runs apiece for the Volcanoes. Shaw, a first-round draft pick out of Boston College, doubled in the first run in the first and greeted reliever Dario Beltre with a mammoth homer to right to lead off the fifth.
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