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Spokane Indians

Spokane Indians pitchers walk 11 in 14 innings, swept in doubleheader by Vancouver

The Spokane Indians’ first three games of the Northwest League season in Vancouver were rained out.

The only time the teams were scheduled to meet again during the first half of the season was this week at Avista Stadium.

The NWL scheduled doubleheaders on Tuesday and Saturday at Avista to make up for two of the rainouts, throwing the starting pitching rotation out of whack a bit.

Instead of sending regular Tuesday starter Gabriel Hughes to begin the series, the Indians started both ends of the doubleheader Tuesday with a relief pitcher.

The strategy worked to varying degrees, but in what has become a familiar refrain, the Indians’ bullpen faltered in both games.

The Canadians scored five runs after the starting pitcher departed in the second game and won 6-4 to complete a sweep of the Indians (20-18). The Canadians played as the “home” team in the second game batting second.

Vancouver (21-17) won the first game 5-4, scoring two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth.

“We stayed behind in counts early,” Indians pitching coach Ryan Kibler said. “Too many three-ball counts. … We’ve just got to locate better and pitch – we can’t pitch from behind in the count.”

Relivers Tyler Ras and Tyler Ahearn combined to give up four runs over 1⅔ innings in the second game and Joel Condreay allowed two inherited runners to score and gave up a run while walking three in the first game.

“It’s wide open down there for somebody to step up and be the guy to go to in middle innings,” Kibler said. “We like where we’re at if we’ve got the lead, and if it gets late. But somebody else needs to step up.”

Vancouver’s Alex De Jesus started the scoring in the second game with a long homer to left field off starter Mason Green in the second inning, a solo shot and his fourth of the season.

It stayed that way until the fifth. Spokane’s Ben Sems and Adael Amador walked and Jordan Beck lined a two-out single to left-center to score Sems. Yanquiel Fernandez followed with a single to right to bring in Amador to make it 2-1.

Vancouver tied it in the bottom half as Michael Turconi doubled and scored on Alan Roden’s single. Reliever Ras entered and allowed back-to-back singles and a two-run double to Rainier Nunez and the Canadians went up 4-2.

Spokane’s Zach Kokoska led off the sixth with his 11th homer of the season. The Indians loaded the bases with one down but Benny Montgomery, in his first game back from injury in 12 days, grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

The Indians called upon Ahearn, who allowed a single, walk and two-run double to put Vancouver up 6-3.

Green, making his first start of the season, went 4⅓ innings in his longest stint of the year. He allowed two runs on three hits and walked two .

“I’ve been a starter my whole career in college and throughout pro ball so far,” Green said. “It doesn’t change anything preparing to start rather than relieving.

“I think I definitely could have put myself in a better spot consistently getting ahead of guys, but we gave our offense a chance to put some runs on the board and they eventually did.”

In the first game, the Canadians jumped on starter Cullen Kafka in the first, with Andres Sosa launching a two-run homer .

The Indians scored in the fourth. Juan Guerrero led off with a single and stole second base. With two down, Sems hit a grounder to the right side that got through and Guerrero narrowly beat the throw home to make it 2-1.

Kafka, making just his second start of the season, ran out of gas in the fifth. Rainer Diaz led off with a double and Cade Doughty reached on an error.

“I probably could have felt better,” Kafka said. “I pretty much just pitched how I was feeling and tried to get as much out of myself as I could just mentality-wise and executing pitches.”

Indians manager Robinson Cancel went to Condreay, who got a strikeout but walked John Kasevich to load the bases. Garrett Spain followed with a two-run single to put Vancouver up 4-1. The Canadians added a run in the sixth off Condreay on back-to-back walks and a double by Doughty.

Fernandez and Kokoska each hit their 10th home run in the sixth to make it a one-run game, but Vancouver reliever T.J. Brock set the Indians down in order in the seventh.

Kafka (3-1) went 4⅓ innings and allowed four runs on seven hits, striking out two and walking three.

“Every time my number gets called, I’m ready to take advantage that opportunity and do the best I can for the team,” he said.

Transaction: Right-handed pitcher Keegan James was assigned to the Indians from the ACL Rockies . He replaced starter Carson Palmquist, who was put on the injured list earlier in the week.