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Indians sweep Canadians

Tim Hulett can’t recall another five-game sweep during his four seasons of managing the Spokane Indians. He certainly won’t see many sweeps similar to the one the Indians polished off Saturday at Avista Stadium. Spokane (16-12) blasted the Vancouver Canadians 8-1 to continue to lead the Northwest League East Division by one-half game over Boise (16-13), which will host the Indians for three  games starting tonight. During the sweep, the Indians outscored the Canadians 38-9 and outhit them 56-32. Spokane, which hit .320 in the series, improved its home record to 11-4. “Everybody has started swinging the bats up and down the line,” Hulett said. “We’re scoring lots of runs and running the bases well, but you have to hand it to our pitching staff. They’ve done a great job and the bullpen has done a great job.” The bullpen, especially Tim Stanford (2-0), provided the big boost when Indians starter Juan Grullon left the game with a nasty blister after facing just five batters. Hulett said Grullon will miss at least one start. Stanford, who hadn’t worked more than two innings during five previous appearances, checked the Canadians (12-17) on four hits and one earned run in four innings. “Part of a reliever’s job is always being prepared for any circumstance, and it happened tonight,” said the third-year pro from Sydney, Australia. Jimmy Reyes and Justin Earls closed out the game. Reyes struck out the side in the seventh and Earls earned his first save while dropping his earned-run average to 0.93. Vancouver starter Nathan Long (3-2), who defeated Spokane on June 21, lasted just three innings and exited with Vancouver trailing 4-0. Spokane sent 10 runners to the plate during its four-run eighth against Pedro Vidal. Michael Olt, who was aboard all five times on the night, capped the scoring with a two-run single. Olt leads the club with 18 RBIs. Vancouver’s infield defense blundered its way to five errors and had 12 errors during the series’ final three games. Spokane played errorless ball and received a defensive gem from Jake Skole in the fourth. Skole chased down A.J. Kirby-Jones’ liner to deep center field with an over-the-shoulder, sprawling catch. Jones, Vancouver’s main power hitter, went 0 for 15 in the series. Now the Indians turn their attention to the Boise series, which has extra meaning this year because the NWL season is split in two. The winner of the first half, which ends July 26, clinches a playoff spot. Spokane has 10 games left in the first half and Boise has nine. “I tell the guys, if you have to do something different for the big games, then you’re not getting ready for the other games,” Hulett said. Notes Indians pitcher Zach Osborne was released from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he was treated for facial injuries. Osborne was hit by a batted ball while standing in right field during Thursday’s batting practice. … Shortstop Jurickson Profar, who leads the Indians with 28 hits and nine doubles, took a rare night off. Outfielder Jared Hoying, the club leader with eight stolen bases and 18 runs, also rested.

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