Rookie starter Kyle Weiland was his best yet all across the row as he bolstered the PawSox to a 4-1 win at McCoy Stadium Wednesday night, giving Pawtucket a winning record at home (19-18) for the first time since May 11.
Ironically, on that date, Weiland took the L-shaped albatross against Gwinnett as Pawtucket fell to 8-8 in front of its faithful followers. But now, he along with the home PawSox are both supra-.500 again as his personal transcript improved to 7-6.
Weiland surpassed his own longevity mark by pitching an even eight innings. On only one other occasion (May 23 at Toledo) has he worked beyond the sixth.
Tonight, he allowed one run on one hit, namely an RBI single by Dustin Martin in the sixth. He went without throwing a single walk for the first time in any of his 16 Triple-A starts. And of the 24 outs he recorded, half were strikeouts, resetting his bar from the 10 Ks he logged against Syracuse on April 14.
After the Red Wings pulled even with their lone run in the sixth, it didn’t take long for Pawtucket to perk up and wrest the game a little more safely out of reach. The team batted around in the home half of the same stanza, ultimately chasing starter Eric Hacker off the mound with only two outs in the books.
Fifth-slotted third baseman Hector Luna, who logged two hits and two runs scored was the singular firestarter for the PawSox offense. He would be involved in the game’s two most critical scoring plays, and the only two that came by way of swinging the bat and running.
Luna led off the third with a single to centerfield, proceeded to steal second, then scored on Luis Exposito’s base hit to grant the hosts the initial 1-0.
And then, in the sixth, Luna led off with his second homer in as many nights and seventh on the season to renew the edge at 2-1.
That play stood as the decider. But when Hacker was removed after getting the next two outs, the Sox passively exploited reliever Carlos Guttierez and were rewarded with a strong insurance policy. Exposito and Lin sandwiched Jose Iglesias’ single with a walk apiece. Afterwards, Guttierez walked Nava and hit Ryan Lavarnaway to force in the two bonus runs.
In relief of Weiland, Michael Bowden let down the curtain with two strikeouts of his own, although he did push his luck a little by letting Martin on with a walk and authorizing a two-out single by Brian Dinkelman.
You knew there had to be at least a mild catch to a PawSox pitching gem. Weiland hit three Rochester batters this evening –Danny Lehmann in both the third and the sixth and Martin in the fourth. Lehmann’s second HBP amounted to the Red Wings’ only run when he advanced to second on a passed ball, then went home on Martin’s aforementioned single.
Translation: three out of the Red Wings four baserunners on Weiland’s tab were due to the pitcher hitting the batter rather than the conventional vice versa.
Elsewhere, cleanup man Lars Anderson had an outstanding off-night. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and stranded a cumulative eight teammates as each of his at-bats wound up being a third out.
Here’s a summation of that debacle: Anderson popped out to end the first inning with Daniel Nava aboard, struck out to cap off a scoreless third with Igeslias and Che-Hsuan Lin both on, whiffed yet again for the third out of the fifth to leave Nava and Lavarnway hanging, and lined out with the bases loaded in the sixth.
The only other Pawtucket hitter with neither a run-scored, hit, or RBI on the night was Yamaico Navarro.