If the first inning was any indication, the night didn't look like it was getting off to a good start for the Moose Jaw Miller Express.
Moose Jaw starting pitcher Tanner Spencer loaded the bases in the opening frame, but he was able to strikeout Alex Jones and get Colin Rintoul to groundout to third to get out of the jam.
Spencer settled down after that and didn't allow another hit until the seventh inning. The Moose Jaw native went 7 1/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits with five strikeouts and three walks in the Millers' 9-1 win over the visiting, first place Weyburn Beavers on Tuesday night at Ross Wells Park.
“The whole time I felt pretty good, I was just being a bit too fine and then I decided that I was just going to fill it and if they hit me, they hit me and if they don't, they don't, so fortunately they didn't,” said Spencer after his record improved to 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA on the year.
“I had pretty decent fastball command through the first couple of innings and then after that we got the big lead and I just went after them and filled it, put my defence to work and they paid off, they did a good job.”
Spencer had struggled recently, lasting just two innings in his last start, but he said he was able to bounce back nicely in Tuesday's win.
“I throwing through a little bit of dead arm, the ball just didn't come out the way that I wanted it to and then tonight it was good,” he said.
“He struggled the last week and a half, his bullpens and his games haven't been up to his par, but he certainly came out and did a job today,” said head coach Michael Hunt.
After Spencer got through the first inning unscathed, the Millers' bats came through in the bottom of the second, striking for four runs on five hits to take control of the game and roll from there.
“We had a game plan to begin with because we've seen this guy a couple of times, so we stayed with it for the first bunch and it worked out,” said Hunt.
A dropped foul ball and a fumbled grounder to the shortstop helped extend the second inning for Moose Jaw and they did a good job of making the Beavers pay for those mistakes. Hunt said that, along with their hitting with two outs, is a good sign.
“We had guys come through with two outs and get a lot of RBIs with two outs, which we haven't had a lot of lately, so that was really nice to see there,” said Hunt.
Jayse McLean launched a solo home run to lead off the third inning. He finished the night 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Marvin Malone was 3-for-4 to bump his team leading average up to .354 on the year. He also drove in one run, scored once and walked once.
Brennan Reidy added three RBIs with a sacrifice-fly in the second and a two-run double in the seventh that put Moose Jaw up 8-0 at that point.
The Millers will hit the road now to play seven games over the next eight nights. They start on Wednesday in Swift Current against the Indians and then head to Alberta for two-game sets in Lethbridge and Edmonton.
“This win was big especially with the way that our division is and with everybody beating everybody and five teams under .500, every win is really important,” Hunt added.
Moose Jaw sits tied for second in the Saskatchewan Division with Yorkton at 12-17. They're 5.5 games behind Weyburn for first in the division.
Danzeisen Arrives in MJ... veteran infielder Drew Danzeisen arrived in Moose Jaw during Tuesday's game and was promptly in uniform and in the dugout for the game. The two-year veteran was a late getting up to Moose Jaw this season and Hunt said he will serve as a depth guy now that he's here.
“He'll be used all around the infield and outfield and even as an arm out of the pen,” said Hunt. “It's nice to have guys that we can trust and that have been in the program before, so it will be a real short adjustment period.”
Hunt expects Danzeisen to get into the lineup where they can fit him in.