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Spokane Indians Rewind: Hans Crouse features off-speed pitch for a change

Hans Crouse struck out six over fine innings and allowed one run on four hits and two walks and the Indians (5-3) edged the visiting Hops (5-3) in the finale of a five-game series.

Starling Joseph provided the offense with a two-run homer.

Bobby Eveld and Austin Pettibone provided three perfect innings in relief and Emmanuel Clase retired the side in order in the ninth for his league-leading eighth save.

ICYMI: Five Indians were named to the NWL All-Star team. Curtis Terry and Diosbel Arias were named starters while Crouse, Clase and Francisco Ventura were named reserves.

The Big Play: Crouse made work for himself in the fourth. Joey Rose smacked a leadoff single and with two down Crouse walked consecutive batters to load the bases.

But he battled back to get No. 9 hitter Jorge Perez to fly out to left to end the threat.

“He did a real good job of working out of a bases-loaded jam,” pitching coach Jono Armold said. “It felt like a really big inning then I looked at the scoreboard and saw zeros. It really wasn’t that big.

“The changeup was the highlight. He took it. He owned it tonight and did with it what he wanted.”

“I worked hard on (the change) in my bullpen two days before my start,” Crouse said. “Just getting my arm speed to match my fastball more consistently. It showed in the game tonight getting a lot of swing and misses early in counts.”

The Good: How about reliever Austin Pettibone? The 25-year-old sidearmer on rehab assignment struck out three over two innings without allowing a base runner. Good pitching in a tight game.

The Bad: First base defense. Hasuan Viera dropped a pickoff throw which led to a run and lost a routine foul popup that thankfully didn’t.

The Ugly: We’ll leave this one blank today.

The Takeaway: Crouse obviously has elite stuff and can dazzle when it’s on. In this one, he didn’t have his best fastball and he beat a very good hitting team with his third pitch.

Learning to win without your best stuff is a tough lesson for a lot of lower-level pitchers and it can make the difference in how fast – or if – they advance through the system.

“I’m a perfectionist,” Crouse said. “Every night I take the ball I expect to be dominant. I always want to be dominant.

“Definitely not my sharpest tonight, but I was good enough to get the job done.”

Next Game: Indians at Eugene on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.

Tuesday’s Minor League Report:

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