The Spokane Indians on Thursday hosted their only game this season with a starting time before 5 p.m. It started cloudy and cool at noon, but as the day evolved, blue skies and sun peeked out from behind the clouds to make for a spectacular late-spring afternoon at Avista Stadium.
Spokane starter Ryan Feltner enjoyed the early start time, too.
The 24-year-old right-hander out of Ohio State, the Colorado Rockies’ No. 22 prospect, continued his impressive campaign with another terrific start and the Indians downed the Vancouver Canadians 8-0 in the third of a six-game High-A West series.
Isaac Collins clubbed a three-run home run, his second of the season, and Willie MacIver added an RBI double. The Indians (14-19) drew nine walks , including three by Hunter Stovall.
Vancouver dropped to 19-14.
[BOX SCORE courtesy MILB.com]
“Started off kind of without my best fastball,” Feltner said. “So kind of had to fall back to Plan B, which is just flipping in sliders, because it’s my next-highest strike-percentage pitch. So I kind of went to that, and then found my fastball later on in the game and at that point everything sort of started working.”
“(Feltner’s) slider was really good today,” catcher MacIver said. “His fastball’s electric, putting guys out with it. Breaking ball was good. You know, I didn’t think he had his best fastball, but he has enough grit and heart on the mound to pitch through that and still get guys out.”
Feltner tossed five-plus shutout innings and allowed two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts, lowering his season earned-run average to 2.17 over seven starts. He’s allowed one or fewer earned runs in five of those starts with 45 strikeouts in 37⅓ innings.
“This guy can really pitch,” Indians manager Scott Little said. “I don’t know how much longer he’ll be here, but he’s done a great job and I love when goes out there. He goes five, six innings and if we could score a couple of runs, we got a chance to win a game.”
Feltner tries not to dwell on the future or a promotion, but said it can stick in the back of his mind.
“You know, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t, just because that’s the nature of the minor leagues,” he said. “Everybody’s trying to work up the ladder. I think a lot of guys will tell you that they think about it a lot, too.
“Hopefully, I get the chance soon, but if not, I’m perfectly content being here. I love Willie. I love the team. I mean, wherever I am, I’m just gonna try to do my thing and do my game plan.”
The Indians got started in the second inning. With one down, Niko Decolati bunted for a base hit and went to third on the overthrow. Canadians starter Luis Quinones committed a balk and Decolati was awarded home.
The Indians loaded the bases in the third with three consecutive two-out walks, but Michael Toglia looked at strike three to end the inning.
Hunter Stovall and Luke Morgan walked in the fourth and executed a double steal, and Stovall scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
Spokane finally scored a run off a base hit in the fifth, as MacIver’s line-drive double to the wall over center fielder Tanner Kirwir’s head plated Brenton Doyle from first.
“(Kirwir) didn’t really move and I was like, ‘I hit that pretty good,’ ” MacIver said. “But you never know really with the wind. Sometimes you hit it to center and it goes and sometimes you hit to center and it dies.
“But when he started like running back on it, I was like, ‘I got it.’ ”
“Everybody loves Willie,” Little said. “Willie is going to be a big league catcher and he’s a clutch player. He’s always involved in the game, his head’s in the right place and he’s looking for ways to beat people. He’s going to give you a good at-bat.”
Stovall and Morgan led off the sixth with consecutive walks and both scored on a long single by Aaron Schunk. Collins’ blast, his second in as many games, put things out of reach in the eighth.
New guys: Christopher Navarro, assigned to the Indians from Low-A Fresno on Tuesday, made his High-A debut . He started at shortstop and went 1 for 4. Right-hander Jake Sommers made his Spokane debut as well with one scoreless inning of relief.
Temper, temper: Vancouver manager Donny Murphy, who played part of the 2002 season with the Indians, was ejected in the eighth inning after arguing a hit-by-pitch by Canadians reliever Willie Gaston.
Around the league
Tri-City 6, Hillsboro 0: David Daniels struck out eight over seven one-hit innings and the visiting Dust Devils (11-22) topped the Hops (15-17). Kyle Kasser went 2 for 5 with an RBI for T-C.
Everett 9, Eugene 4: Cody Grosse homered, Austin Shenton knocked in two runs on two hits and the AquaSox (20-12) beat the visiting Emeralds (19-14). Connor Hoover had two RBIs for Everett.
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