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Spokane Indians pregame: Indians home opener starts season’s longest homestand

UPDATED: Fri., June 21, 2019, 6:21 p.m.

The Spokane Indians face the Boise Hawks in the first of a four-game Northwest League series at Avista Stadium at 6:35 p.m.

The Indians (5-2) send right-hander Ricky Vanasco (1-0) against RHP Jeffri Ocando (0-1, 18.00) for the Hawks (3-4). Vanasco started opening day last Friday with a stellar outing. The 15th round pick of the Texas Rangers in the 2017 draft struck out seven in four shutout innings and allowed two hits and two walks.

Manager Kenny Hook is looking forward to see how Vanasco follows up his debut.

“His stuff is electric,” he said. “I mean, it’s big (velocity) fastball. He’s emotional in a great way, It’s genuine excitement and emotion on the mound and he commanded the change up and showed the breaking ball. So I think you’ll see a great arm – it’s just a matter if he can handle his emotions and not try to throw it triple digits every time. So he’s an exciting young kid.”

Hook was happy with the season-opening seven-game road trip.

“It’s always good to be on the winning side of things,” he said. “The pitching’s been good, defense was really good early. And I think if you do that you’re gonna have a chance to win. That’s what the first couple series were about.”

Hook said he was happily surprised with the success of the pitching staff as a whole.

“I think the pitching was a surprise, going into Vancouver where you’ve got big crowds,” Hook said. “We’ve got young kids that showed some composure and that was probably the biggest surprise is how our young pitchers handled themselves in that environment.”

All that said, Hook is anxious to finally get in front of a capacity home crowd.

“I’m excited,” he admitted. “You know, it’s hopefully as big a crowd I heard it was. I’m excited for the kids to get to see their home crowd. Anytime it’s a home opener, I think a lot of excitement surrounds it.”

New kids: The Rangers assigned several players to the Indians roster for opening day. Three 2019 draft picks will make their pro debuts: OF Kellen Strahm (fifth round), 1B Blaine Crim (19th round) and SS Jake Hoover (28th round). RHP Scott Williams and OF Tanner Gardner (played for Spokane in 2018) were placed on a rehab assignment and RHP Nic Starr was relegated from Low-A Hickory.

Lineup:

Player to watch: Jonah McReynolds. The third-year Indians infielder has opened the season on a seven-game hitting streak. His .429 average currently ranks third in the league. He has eight RBIs and eight runs.

Last night: The Indians managed just three base runners – all singles – against three Salem-Keizer Volcanoes pitchers in a 6-0 loss in the finale of a four-game series at Volcanoes Stadium on Thursday.

Jonah McReynolds, Luis Asuncion and Kenen Irizarry had base hits for Spokane, which didn’t advanced a runner to second.

Ex-Indians news: The Rangers promoted Curtis Terry from Low-A Hickory to High-A Down East. The big slugger hit .263/.328/.560 with 15 home runs (tying his career high) and 47 RBIs in 62 games for the Crawdads.

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