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Blog matters: Spokane Indians depart Avista after odd summer

Spokesman.Com

Friday: The Spokane Indians bid adieu Thursday to what was a strange Northwest League season at Avista Stadium.

The summer at Avista Stadium included searing temperatures, often 90 degrees or hotter, dust storms and smoky air that was so unhealthy that the Indians had to postpone a game.

 It also included erratic baseball from a team that had difficulty hitting or finding consistent pitching.

Entering the final days of the Northwest League season, the Indians ranked seventh (among eight teams) in team batting average and team earned-run average.

Their leading hitter, LeDarious Clark, was batting .436 on July 8 but has been 21 for 120 (.175) since. Worse yet, Clark had a habit of being benched for lackluster play. Thursday was another example as Clark was yanked after arguing a strikeout in the fourth inning.

The Indians’ parent club, the Texas Rangers, also gained little in public relations by never pitching No. 1 draft pick Dillon Tate at home. Tate worked a total of two innings in two starts, both on the road, before being promoted.

But some Indians endeared themselves to the fans. Infielder Dylan Moore became known for his all-out hustle. Catcher Tyler Sanchez had a habit of unleashing big hits in the ninth inning and later.

Outfielder Darius Day ultimately took Clark’s spot as leadoff hitter. He reached base four times on Thursday, which had become a habit for him.

“The guy who swung the bat tremendously well over the last three or four weeks and has been our best competitive at-bat has been Darius Day in the leadoff spot,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “I gave him a really hard time probably 2 1/2 weeks ago when he struck out four times on 3-2 pitches that were out of the zone. I told him, ‘If you walk once there and get a hit, your average goes up, not down.’ I think he took that to heart a little bit.”

The Indians never got on a roll during the season, just reaching .500 at home after Thursday’s solid win.

“Some days we played and looked like a world-killer and other days we looked like the world killed us,” Hulett said. “But these guys really hung in there this year.”

Chris Derrick @srChrisDerrick

6: Friday: The WSU players and coaches are sworn not to look past their next opponent. We’re not players or coaches, so let’s talk about that Week 2 opponent. …

Friday: During preseason (which started Friday) the Chiefs decide what to do about the situation of their overage players.

Western Hockey League teams are allowed to have three 20-year-old players on their roster. The Chiefs currently have four: goaltender Garret Hughson, defenseman Jason Fram, and forwards Adam Helewka and Riley Whittingham.

One player could end up being traded unless Fram or Helewka latch on with National Hockey League teams when they attend camps this week.

Chris Derrick @srChrisDerrick

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