An old-fashioned pitching duel broke out at Avista Stadium on Thursday, with the two teams combining for one run and four hits.
The home team didn’t get the better of it.
An unearned run in the third inning served as the scoring output for the game, and the Vancouver Canadians edged the Spokane Indians 1-0 in the second of a three-game Northwest League series.
Despite the loss, the Indians (12-9) have won six of their last eight games.
Indians starter Josh Javier was looking to right the ship after a few rough outings. After posting a 1.31 ERA through his first five starts, the southpaw had given up nine runs and issued nine walks in just seven innings in his last three starts.
Javier’s night got off to an inauspicious debut as he walked the leadoff hitter, Trevor Schwecke. But Jesus Lopez grounded into a double play and Phillip Clarke bounced out to end the inning.
The Indians had runners at second and third with two down in the second, but Jake Hoover looked at a close strike three to end the threat.
After Javier put up a 1-2-3 inning in the second, including a strikeout, Vancouver (8-13) got on the board in the third.
Cameron Eden reached on a fielding error on Hoover at short, then stole second. Dominic Abbadessa put a liner in the left-center gap that scored Eden, but center fielder Obie Ricumstrict’s throw beat Abbadessa trying to stretch the hit into a double.
Javier settled down to get out of the inning without further ado, then picked up a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless fourth. He walked three in his four-inning stint but only gave up one hit and struck out three. He threw 41 of his 71 pitches for strikes.
“For him to come back and get back in (good) counts and get out of those innings where he had base runners on was big,” Indians manager Kenny Hook said.
“My misses, my adjustments were pitch-to-pitch, not at-bat-to-at-bat early in the season,” Javier said through an interpreter. “That helped me to not think about when misses happen, not let my emotions take over, and I was able to make adjustments pitch-to-pitch.”
Pitching coach Henderson Lugo wanted Javier to simplify things.
“We always go back and look at the things he was doing positive and the things needing adjusting and do better,” he said. “Today was kind of what (Javier) said mentally of being in the game and adjusting, be more aggressive with the fastball. His fastball produces weak ground balls, weak contact.”
Meanwhile, Vancouver starter Adam Kloffenstein cruised.
Kloffenstein, the Toronto Blue Jays 2018 third-round pick, extended a string of consecutive games of at least five innings pitched to six with an earned run average under 2.00 over the span. He tossed five scoreless in win over the Indians on July 28 – and did the same on Thursday.
The 6-foot-6 righty from Magnolia, Texas, struck out eight and allowed two hits and one walk.
“I think we were way too passive against him, a lot of fastballs taken,” Hook said of Kloffenstein. “And anytime you take that many fastballs, especially with a sinker ball guy early in the count… for me gotta try to get him early.
“He’s a good pitcher, so you got to attack him. I don’t think we attacked him very much.”
Even after Kloffenstein left the game, the Indians still had trouble putting a rally together.
With one out in the sixth, Canadians reliever Nicolas Medina issued back-to-back walks to Alexander Ovalles and Kenen Irizarry.
A wild pitch allowed both runners to move up, then with two down David Garcia drew the third free pass of the inning to load the bases.
Vancouver manager Casey Candaele made a pitching change to East Valley High School grad Gage Burland, and the righty struck out Jonah McReynolds to put out the fire.
Burland issued a pair of walks in the seventh inning, but with two down Ovalles flied out to left to end the potential rally.
The Indians went to bat in the ninth looking for their fourth walk-off win in their last seven games. Francisco Ventura earned a one-out walk, but Ricumstrict struck out and Hoover flied out for the final out.
Reliever Nick Laio took over for Javier and struck out two and allowed one hit over two innings. Daniel Robert pitched a perfect seventh inning and Warner Leal struck out two over the final two scoreless innings.
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