Right when it seemed the Indians’ offense couldn’t be stopped, it quickly fell back to earth in Spokane’s series finale with the Boise Hawks.
The Indians couldn’t solve Boise starting pitcher Erick Julio and fell 3-1 to the Hawks on Friday night at Avista Stadium, snapping a five-game winning streak.
Julio shut down an Indians offense that was averaging 7 3/4 runs in the five-game series leading up to Friday, scattering five hits, striking out five and giving up no walks in six scoreless frames.
“Being aggressive, throwing strikes in the strike zone and not being afraid of contract, that’s what we talked about before the game and he was able to show it today,” Boise manager Andy Gonzalez said of Julio, who won his first game since 2014 when he played with the Rockies Dominican Summer League affiliate.
Julio sat out the 2015 season with a fracture in his right throwing shoulder. The rehabilitation process was difficult, according to Julio, but in the end he believes it made him a better pitcher.
“I took it as a positive,” Julio said. “I took as a year to learn and get better in my craft even though I couldn’t throw. Learning on the bench from guys that knew a lot and older guys, that’s what helped me the most.”
The 6-foot-1 right-hander is from Cartagena, Colombia, where he learned started playing baseball at 3 and fell in love with the game growing up in a baseball-centric family. Julio was swiftly discovered and was signed with the Colorado Rockies in 2013.
In his first season playing in the United States, Julio has struggled in the Northwest League, posting a 5.68 ERA in his first four starts. But against Spokane, he demonstrated why the Rockies signed him for $700,000 at age 16.
“He’s a very confident kid,” Gonzalez said. “He struggles just like another other pitcher, but confidence he doesn’t lack that … I’m pretty confident every time I give him the ball, every five days he’s going to give a good job for us.”
Boise gave Julio his only run support in the second inning, as Wesley Jones drove in Willie Abreu on a single up the middle for the first run. Anthony Brito followed with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Bobby Stahel. Abreu scored from third on an error, as Charles LeBlanc’s throw from the left side of the infield was low and first baseman Todd McDonald couldn’t dig it out of the dirt, pushing the lead to 3-0.
Luke Lanphere, Spokane’s starting pitcher, was handed the loss after the Indians were unable to dig out of the 3-0 hole, giving up five hits and two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Blaine Prescott’s solo home run to left-center field off Christian Talley accounted for the Indians’ lone run. Prescott leads the team with three homers.
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