The first Sunday game of the season at Avista Stadium was a rematch of opening day pitchers, with the Colorado Rockies’ No. 7 prospect lefty Helcris Olivarez for the Spokane Indians facing the San Francisco Giants’ No. 30 prospect Caleb Kilian for Eugene.
Kilian entered play yet to allow an earned run in his professional career, spanning seven appearances in 2019 and four innings on opening day. Olivarez threw two scoreless innings on Tuesday before allowing three home runs in the next two.
While the Indians finally got to Kilian, just a bit, Olivarez struggled with his fastball command, and the Ems got the better of the matchup.
Kilian struck out five over five innings and allowed just two hits and no walks, and the Emeralds took advantage of five Spokane infield errors to roll the Indians 15-1.
“He’s pitched twice against us, he’s done a good job,” manager Scott Little said of Kilian. “He’s got a cutter away and he mixes his pitches well. Throws his breaking stuff for strikes. He like just kept us off balance and you know that’s part of the job as a pitcher.”
The errors led to four unearned runs by the Emeralds.
“We just didn’t make a couple plays, extended some innings,” Little said. “Those routine plays like that we have to make, so we’ll make some adjustments. We take some ground balls, we’ll make sure people are in the right positions and hopefully we’ll clean that up.”
Spokane managed just four hits against three Eugene pitchers.
Eugene picked up back-to-back opposite-field singles by Patrick Bailey and Will Wilson to start the game, but Willie MacIver nabbed Wilson straying too far off the bag for the first out. Sean Roby went the other way for an RBI ground-rule double and a 1-0 lead.
Olivarez came back to get Diego Rincones on a slider and blew Tyler Fitzgerald away on a 97-mph heater.
Olivarez hit Simon Whiteman to lead off the third. The Ems’ second baseman stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a one-out single by Wilson.
Kilian gave up his first run as a pro in the bottom of the third. Nico Decolati singled, went to second on an infield single by Jack Blomgren, stole third and came home on a groundout.
The Indians defense contributed to another Emeralds run in the fourth. Ismael Munguia reached on an error at first and stole second. Carter Aldrete reached on a throwing error and Munguia came around. Whiteman then clubbed one to the wall in center for an RBI triple and 4-1 lead.
Olivarez was done after four. He allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks with two Ks. He threw 77 pitches, 41 for strikes.
“I was not able to pitch the way I wish I could pitch today,” Olivarez said through an interpreter. “I didn’t give the team a chance to win this game. Obviously, the pitches that I threw out there today, trying to spot my pitches, I couldn’t do that.”
“He started off great,” Little said of Olivarez. “If he didn’t have nothing to work on, it wouldn’t be any fun for us and the pitching coach and everything else. We’re going to work on the running game, he’s gonna work on locating his pitches, his offspeed. He’s gonna be all right. We ain’t worried about him.”
The Indians defense struggled again in the fifth with reliever Trent Ferrell on the hill. After a leadoff double by Wilson, errors at first and short allowed two more runs to come across. An infield single with the bases loaded plated another to make it 7-1.
Wilson led off the sixth with a long drive to center that Niko Decolati initially caught but dropped after colliding hard with the wall. It went as a triple, and Wilson scored on a groundout to make it 8-1.
Indians reliever Raymells Rosa then walked the bases loaded and left with a trainer. Riley Pint entered and hit Munguia on the ankle to force in a run. Two wild pitches brought in two more to make it 11-1.
“(Pint’s) got to be pitching in situations like that,” Little said. “We just can’t forever and ever just keep running out there with a clean inning and stuff like that. This is a good learning lesson for him.”
Franklin Labour crushed a three-run homer in the seventh off Trysten Barlow and Rincones went deep off Moises Ceja in the ninth.
Spokane starts a six-game series against the Vancouver Canadians in Hillsboro, Oregon, on Tuesday. Vancouver must play their home games in Hillsboro due to the continuing travel ban between the U.S. and Canada.
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