Spokane Indians starter Helcris Olivarez isn’t going to be sad to see the Vancouver Canadians leave town.
The C’s had good success in their first two games against Olivarez this season. On May 15, the Canadians scored four runs in five innings. On Tuesday, in the first game of the series, Vancouver tagged the lefty for seven runs in four innings of work.
Couldn’t get worse? Think again.
Vancouver roughed up the Colorado Rockies No. 7 prospect for nine runs and 11 hits on Sunday and the Canadians beat the Indians 12-6 in the finale of a High-A West series at Avista Stadium.
Vancouver (21-15) took four of six in the series. The Indians fell to 15-21.
Olivarez walked three and hit a batter in 4 2/3 innings. His earned-run average for the season moved from 6.00 to 7.53.
“He struggled with his delivery early on,” Indians pitching coach Ryan Kibler said. “He battled through it. He was pretty good in the first but then he gets a gives up a run, and it’s like everything’s just gonna come crashing down, because he has such high expectations of throwing a no-hit shut out every night.”
“His off-speed pitches weren’t really consistently for strikes,” catcher Willie MacIver said. “Which is kind of the key for him and sort of frustrating if you’ve got such good stuff.”
Olivarez, just 20 years old, is on the Rockies 40-man roster. He jumped from Rookie level in 2019 to High-A this year.
“He’s a really confident guy,” MacIver said. “He knows he’s really good. He’s gonna be really good. I think he’s gonna be a top-end star in the big leagues one day. Obviously the confidence is gonna take a little bit of a hit, but I’m not worried about it.”
“When he gets a little traffic, that mentality changes,” Kibler said. “And that’s kind of par for the course for a young guy like this short on experience.”
Vancouver jumped on Olivarez right away. Leadoff hitter Tanner Kirwer bunted for a single, stole second and went to third on an infield single by Cameron Eden. Spencer Horwitz lined a one-out single to center to plate Kirwer.
Things got weird in the second.
With two down and two on, Kirwer lofted one to the wall in the right field corner and Niko Decolati slammed into the portion of the wall that juts back toward the field of play, momentarily disappearing from the view of the umpires. The original call was out and the Indians exited the field.
As Decolati was being tended to by Spokane trainers, the umpires conferred and determined the ball left the field of play for a three-run home run.
Decolati came out of the game a half-inning later. His replacement, Kyle Datres, helped the home team get back in it with a three-run homer to right to make it a one-run game.
Three batters later, Aaron Schunk found the short porch in right and the Indians went up 6-4 after four innings.
The lead didn’t last.
Olivarez hit Tanner Morris and walked Horwitz and a double by Ryan Gold scored both. Luis De Los Santos then homered to right center to put the C’s up 8-6. An RBI single by No. 9 hitter Eric Rivera ended Olivarez’ outing.
“I’m a little frustrated, you know,” MacIver said. “I’m trying to call the game back there and he’s throwing the pitch that I wanted to and not working.”
Kibler wants to see Olivarez trusting his stuff more.
“His fastball, naturally, is the pitch that you fear could get hit,” Kibler said. “Majority of other guys here have overcome that, but that’s Olivarez right there. They don’t like the fastball to get hit. They think fastball’s the one that gets hit, and they go with the pitch that they think is gonna miss bats.”
The Indians start a six-game series at Tri-City on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.
Moves: RHPs Trysten Barlow and Shelby Lackey were placed on the minor league seven-day injured list on Sunday. RHP Fineas Del Bonta-Smith was promoted to the Spokane roster from Low-A Fresno. Bonta-Smith was 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 appearances covering 15 innings for the Grizzlies.
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