At the most inopportune time, the Indians were up to their old tricks.
Despite outhitting the AquaSox 11-7 on Thursday at Avista Stadium, Spokane committed six errors and fell to Everett 8-5 in Game 1 of a three-game Northwest League divisional playoff series. Only three of Everett’s eight runs were earned.
“It’s really tough mentally,” Indians shortstop Charles Leblanc said. “Obviously we are swinging the bats pretty well, but honestly I don’t know what happened tonight. Some of the errors we made were hard plays, but most of them were routine and that’s what playoff baseball is all about. If you can make the routine plays, you can win a ballgame, and that’s what we lacked tonight.”
Everett grabbed the lead in the third, as Bryson Brigman and Eric Filia hit back-to-back RBI singles to right field and Nick Zammarelli scored Brigman on a sacrifice fly to left field to put Everett up 3-1.
Indians’ first baseman Luis Terrero made two defensive mistakes, dropping a pop fly in foul territory, which would have been the second out of the inning with nobody on base, and overthrew Indians shortstop Anderson Tejeda attempting to turn a double play.
Everett tacked on two more in the fourth. Nick Thurman singled and Johan Quevedo doubled, and were plated on an RBI groundout from Austin Grebeck and a fielding error from Tejeda.
Spokane’s offense got a boost in the fifth on Leblanc’s three-run home run to left field, cutting the AquaSox’s lead to one.
But the Indians couldn’t stay within striking distance for long.
The AquaSox added three insurance runs in the eighth, as reliever Kevin Lenik plunked Donnie Walton with the bases loaded and a fielding error and throwing error from second baseman Blaine Prescott on the same play allowed two more runs to score.
Despite giving up three runs after Phillips’ departure, Hulett said he was impressed with the bullpen. Five Indians’ relievers, Reid Anderson, Scott Sebald, Lenik, Tyler Stubblefield and Johan Juan, combined to give up three runs — one earned — on two hits.
“I thought the bullpen was fantastic tonight, you really can’t ask any more from them,” Hulett said. “They ended up giving up three in the eighth, but that was because of some poor plays.”
Tyler Phillips was handed the loss for Spokane, giving up five runs — two earned — in six innings.
Heading into Game 2, which was moved from Avista Stadium to Safeco Field in Seattle, the Indians need to clean up some things on the defensive end. But Leblanc still likes Spokane’s chances.
“I honestly think that we are a lot better team than they are, we just didn’t prove it tonight,” Leblanc said. “(Take out) at least five or four of these errors, and I think we are winning the ball game.”
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