Spokane Indians starting pitcher Luke Lanphere, despite his 6-foot-4 frame, is not intimidating when he’s on the mound.
Lanphere, who threw five scoreless frames in Spokane’s 7-5 win over Tri-City on Wednesday night at Avista Stadium, is gangly and his fastball sits in the lower 90s. He’s not overpowering, but he gets batters out. And he reminds himself that every time he steps out on the mound.
“(Velocity0 get’s you drafted,” Lanphere said, “but getting outs keeps you in the game. The Rangers have taught me how to do that and they’ve molded me as a starter.”
Lanphere impressed scouts in high school with a fastball that touched 94 mph, but realistically, he locates it better when he throws it in the lower 90s. Texas drafted him out of Citrus Valley High School in Redlands, California, in the 21st round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft, and it became clear within his first year that Lanphere wouldn’t develop a flamethrower-type arm. And that’s worked for him.
“Being in the zone, always attacking the strike zone and letting them hit the ball and letting my defense hit the ball (works for me),” Lanphere said. “My teammates help me a lot in the field.”
Lanphere leaned on his defense tonight, but Indians’ manager Tim Hulett said it wasn’t his best start. He cited his five walks and Lanphere letting a baserunner on every inning as a reason why.
“I don’t think he was that sharp tonight,” Hulett said. “I think he had guys in scoring position all night long, I thought he used his secondary pitches way too much, didn’t have a good fastball … he’s fortunate to get through five innings without his best stuff.
“But in that sense, you always like to see your pitcher be able to pitch when he doesn’t have his best stuff.”
The Indians, carrying a 7-2 lead in the top of the ninth, had a brief scare. Buddy Reed doubled off Tyler Stubblefield to plate Chris Mattinson. Spokane reliever Kaleb Fontenot entered the game with one out, and gave up an two-RBI single to Chris Baker in his first batter faced to cut the lead to two.
Fontenot settled in and induced two pop outs to secure the Indians’ victory.
Travis Bolin sent a 3-2 fastball with runners on second and third over the left-center field fence to provide the Indians a 3-0 lead in the second.
Stephen Lohr hit his second home run of the series, launching a solo home run the opposite way to right field to put the Indians up 4-0 in the fourth.
Xavier Turner hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Elio Castillo and Lohr pulled an RBI single to left field, giving Spokane a 6-0 lead through the fifth. Brallan Perez added a run with an RBI single in the eighth.
Tri-City cut the lead to 6-2 in the seventh. Reed tripled down the right-field line to score Luis Asuncion and Reed was plated with a wild pitch from Steven Bruce.
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