Northwest League home run leader Franklin Labour added two to his total and the Spokane Indians fell to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 7-5 in the opener of a three-game series at Avista Stadium on Monday.
The Indians, once 9-2 with a five-game lead in the North Division, fell to 10-8. The Indians have lost six of their last seven games.
“It’s just bad baseball,” manager Kenny Hook said. “We’re making mistakes and that’s costing us games.”
The Indians were staked to an early lead.
With one down in the bottom half of the first inning, designated hitter Ryan Anderson struck out swinging but reached on a wild pitch. He took second on another wild pitch then scored on Tanner Gardner’s triple off the base of the wall in center.
Gardner then trotted home on Obie Ricumstrict’s grounder to short.
Right-hander Zak Kent, the Texas Rangers’ ninth-round pick in the 2019 draft, made his second appearance and first start for the Indians. It didn’t go smoothly.
Labour led off the second inning with a no-doubt homer to left, his sixth of the season. Harrison Freed doubled to center, Brandon Martorano singled and Tyler Flores walked to load the bases, ending Kent’s evening.
“It comes down to commanding the ball,” Hook said. “He left a couple pitches up, but if you get ahead of guys those are different types of at-bats. So it’s being able to get strike one, really, with everybody.”
Juan Castillo entered and struck out No. 9 hitter Yorlis Rodriguez but walked Simon Whiteman to force in a run. After another strikeout came another walk, plating the third run of the inning.
Jonah McReynolds led off the bottom half with a looping single to short, then Starling Joseph ripped a double off the wall in left. Blaine Crim bounced out to short and McReynolds scooted home to tie it, then Joseph scored on Cristian Inoa’s groundout.
Labour led off the third with another homer, this one to center, to lengthen his NWL lead to seven and tie it at 4.
The Volcanoes loaded the bases with two down in the fourth. Freed cashed two of them in with his second double of the game and Hook went to the pen again.
David Garcia got one back for the Indians in the home half with his second homer of the season to right-center.
But the Indians gave away a run in the eighth. With one down Whiteman walked then stole second. Kenen Irizarry botched the catch and when the ball caromed into short right field, Irizarry failed to chase it. By the time Gardner was able to track it down, Whiteman has hustled home to make it a two-run game.
“I think it was just a little bit shell shock there and he didn’t go after the ball,” Hook said. “But we’ve got to have a sense of urgency there. Everybody does. I think the outfield realizing that with the steal they have to start creeping in to try to back up. It seems like that stuff is, you know, it’s one of those plays every night that is really costing us.”
The Indians had runners at second and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth, but McReynolds and Joseph struck out to end the threat.
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