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Spokane Indians

Spokane Indians offense struggles again, Tri-City wins 3-1 in Northwest League first-half finale

The Spokane Indians’ offense has been scuffling a bit this week with the promotion of reigning Northwest League player of the month Yanquiel Fernandez to Double-A Hartford on Tuesday.

On Thursday, matters were made worse as the lineup missed three more regulars nursing nagging injuries.

Adrian Placencia had two hits and three RBIs, and the Tri-City Dust Devils beat the Indians 3-1 to close out the season’s first half at Avista Stadium.

“It’s a long season and good offenses, bad offenses, they’re gonna go through it,” Indians hitting coach Zach Osborne said. “It’s part of the game, and it’s a good learning experience for these guys and we’ll get out of it.”

Fernandez’s absence is being felt, though.

“The guy has 70 RBIs at the half, so yeah, that’s a big hit to your offense and he’s a special player,” Osborne said. “But we have faith in these guys, and they’re gonna come out of it and somebody’s gonna step up and produce like he did.”

Sterlin Thompson, Juan Guerrero and Ben Sems all sat this one out. Adael Amador, who started and went 0 for 4, left the game with a trainer while the infield was warming up for the ninth inning.

“You’re gonna have nagging injuries, and we’re kind of going through it right now,” Osborne said. “It’s tough to put a lineup together, but we’ll learn through it.”

Spokane (33-32) starting pitcher Jarrod Cande could have had a better fate.

The 23-year-old right-hander turned in one of his better performances of the season, going seven innings. He allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits, striking out four and walking none. He threw 88 pitches, 57 for strikes.

“I felt pretty good,” Cande said. “Rough start, but I knew I had to buckle down and put up some zeros for the team to give us the best chance.”

Cande faced his only trouble from the first two batters of the game.

Dust Devils (34-32) leadoff hitter Joe Stewart reached on a fielding error by Nic Kent, making his second appearance of the season at third base. Adrian Placencia followed with a line drive off the front of the caboose in right-center for his seventh home run of the season.

“It’s just one of those things, you know,” Cande said. “I had him (1-2 count), left a change-up a little bit up more than I wanted to and he ended up putting a decent swing on it. I mean short porch in right, nothing I can really do about that.”

The Indians’ offense managed just two hits through the first four innings, but finally got on the board in the fifth. Kent ripped a double into the left-field corner, moved to third on a fly out and scored on AJ Lewis’ one-out single.

Ronaiker Palma walked to put two on with one down, but Braiden Ward bounced to third and Amador popped out to end the burgeoning rally.

Spokane’s Benny Montgomery singled to lead off the sixth and stole second, but Jordan Beck and Zach Kokoska struck out in succession and Kent lined out to first.

The Dust Devils added an insurance run in the eighth off reliever Mason Green. Gustavo Campero doubled, stole third and scored on Placencia’s two-out single.

Out of here: Tri-City outfielder Joe Stewart and manager Jack Howell were ejected in the eighth inning arguing a strike call.