The Spokane Indians started their current homestand with back-to-back walk-off wins against the Eugene Emeralds.
After getting in a hole in the first inning Thursday, it was another game in which they had to attempt to come from behind.
Despite a couple of home runs and a big night from Grant Lavigne, a comeback win was not in the offing this time.
Marco Luciano hit a two-run home run in the first inning, Carter Aldrete added an insurance homer in the eighth and the Emeralds beat the Indians 6-5 at Avista Stadium in the third game of a six-game series.
Lavigne went 2 for 3 with a double and a triple and scored a run for Spokane (18-16).
“I was just hunting fastballs and adjusting to off-speed if I get it,” Lavigne said of his approach. “(Eugene) has a lot of good pitchers who can bring, it so we’re trying to stay on the fastball and adjust from there.”
“His approach is unbelievable right now,” Indians hitting coach Zach Osborne said. “He’s really driving the ball the other way and really having good pitch selection and hopefully he can continue to do that.”
Indians starter Evan Shawver, making his third start at High-A since a promotion from Fresno on May 3, had a rough go of it in the first.
The 22-year-old surrendered a two-run home run to Luciano, the second batter of the game, his second consecutive game with a first-inning home run. Two more runs scored in the inning on a groundout and Aldrete’s RBI double to the wall in center.
Shawver settled down to retire seven of the next nine hitters, with six strikeouts.
“I got into some trouble the first inning,” Shawver said. “I was pounding the zone, but, you know, hits are gonna happen. I just got to find a way to compete and try and do what I can do.”
“Tough first inning,” Indians pitching coach Ryan Kibler said. “Had a tough time landing his off-speed pitches, so that kind of handicaps him a little bit. Pitch sequencing – which pitch to throw when – was a bit of an issue too. Righted the ship after he got back in the dugout, got a nice little plan.
“I was making good pitches, but you know, sometimes I just leave the pitch ‘too good’ you know, and it’s just something I got to execute better,” Shawver said. “It’s a learning experience. But I was able to settle down for the next couple innings and got a good rhythm going.”
In the third, Ben Sems got the Indians on the board with a solo homer to the short porch in right, his second homer of the season. Two batters later, Zac Veen lofted one to left field that carried out for his third of the year.
Eugene scored again in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Rodolfo Bone and Jimmy Glowenke.
Shawver finished the inning with no more damage, but was done after four, allowing five earned runs on eight hits and a walk with nine strikeouts.
“He located the fastball to both sides of plate, that really helped to just sequences pitches better. And that was it,” Kibler said of Shawver’s success. “As you move up levels, that becomes more and more important. And I think he learned that lesson tonight. And I’ve got high hopes for him.”
Lavigne led off the fourth with a triple off the top of the wall in right center and scored on a single by Daniel Montano to make it 5-3.
Lavigne was at it again in the sixth, doubling off the top of the left field wall to plate Drew Romo, who had singled, to get the Indians within one.
“I’m happy with the swings,” Lavigne said. “You know, it was a tough series last week – I was kind of coming off the ball. It was good to stay through and drive them – one to the opposite field, one to the pull side.”
Aldrete got that one back with a solo home run to right center in the eighth off reliever Boby Johnson and it ended up the difference-maker.
• Cooled off: Since going 4 for 5 against Tri-City on May 6, Eddy Diaz has just five hits in his last 36 at-bats (.138), including 0 for 4 on Thursday. He’s hitting a lots of fly outs on the homestand, including twice each on Wednesday and Thursday, which is what they don’t want to see from the speedy Diaz.
“With that kind of speed you want to hit low low line drives and run a little bit,” Osborne said. “He’s just kind of speeding things up right now, and swinging swinging at pitches out of the zone. It’s never a good recipe. So that’s that’s what I’m seeing right now.”
Diaz had 59 steals last year in 102 games between Spokane and Low-A Fresno. This season he’s swiped 10 bags in 16 attempts in 33 games.
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