The Spokane Indians and Emerson Martinez turned their seasons around at the same time.
Martinez put together his second consecutive quality start Tuesday and the Indians pushed across a run in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 3-2 victory over the Boise Hawks at Avista Stadium.
Spokane (11-9) has won eight of 12 games since Martinez struggled during an 11-4 loss to Everett on June 25 that dropped his record to 0-2 and the team’s to 3-5. Now the Indians trail first-place Everett (12-8) by just one game in the Northwest League’s North Division.
Martinez didn’t get the decision Tuesday, but he matched his totals from a July 1 win over Vancouver in which he allowed three hits and no earned runs in five innings.
“It’s probably because I was working with the pitching coach (Jose Jaimes) after those two starts and he has helped me a lot,” said the 20-year-old right-hander from Venezuela.
“His first two starts, he actually threw the ball well but he was unable to command the inner half of the plate,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said.
Martinez retired seven consecutive batters during one stretch and worked out of a major jam while protecting a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. Boise’s Kevin Padlo reached third base with no outs, but Martinez stranded him with the aid of two called strikeouts.
“I was just trying to let them hit and not be scared to throw it,” Martinez said. … “I was just trying to throw it for a strike and see what happens.”
“He threw a couple of hard sliders to get ahead in the count, but he set it up with his other pitches, and that’s what I liked about it,” Hulett said.
Martinez exited with a 2-1 lead after Boise scored an unearned run in the fifth. Indians reliever Dario Beltre threw two perfect innings before catching a bad break when Carlos Herrera led off the eighth with a triple that hit the first-base bag and skittered into the right-field corner. Herrera slid around the throw home from Indians right fielder LeDarious Clark on Brian Mundell’s game-tying sacrifice fly.
Spokane rallied in the eighth when Jamie Potts led off with a screaming liner that handcuffed center fielder Eric Toole for a double.
“He smoked that ball,” Hulett said. “He got to third base and said, ‘That’s the hardest ball I’ve hit all year.’ The reason it’s misplayed is it’s hit so low that the guy thinks he has to come in, and it has backspin and it’s climbing on him.”
Potts scored from third on a fielder’s choice by pinch-hitter Diego Cedeno. Boise second baseman Wesley Jones missed a tag on Sherman Lacrus advancing from first base and threw home late.
Clark extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a first-inning single and added a third-inning single to boost his batting average to .411.
Spokane holds a 3-1 lead in the five-game series. The Indians have won four of their first five series of the season.
Boise (7-13) will carry on without outfielder Yonathan Daza, the league’s leading hitter at .418, who was called up to the Asheville (North Carolina) Tourists of the Class A South Atlantic League.
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