Maybe two is better than one. You think?
Whatever leadoff man Rich Thompson cultivated for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Che-Hsuan Lin and Ryan Lavarnway were quick to counter in better quantities as they paced the PawSox to a 7-2 victory at McCoy Stadium Tuesday night.
Thompson was the lone IronPig with a multi-hit outing, and he made the most of them both. With Brian Bocock on board with a two-out walk in the third, he drove in the game’s first run with a double that barely eluded Lin’s trapper along the centerfield wall.
But in an appetizer of eye-for-eye justice, Lin led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to Thompson’s property in center, advanced to second on a botched pickoff attempt, then was nudged to third on Nate Spears’ sacrifice grounder.
Lavarnway subsequently sent Lin home on a double, then usurped the lead for Pawtucket with the help of Lars Anderson’s own two-bagger.
For the second straight night, the top four constituents of the PawSox batting order accounted for all of the decisive scoring plays. And after Thompson singled to lead off the sixth and deleted the 2-1 deficit when he came home on a fielder’s choice, Lin and Lavarnway went to work again in the home half.
Lin deposited yet another leadoff single and swiftly renewed Pawtucket’s lead ahead of Spears’ single, which morphed into a virtual double courtesy of another IronPigs throwing error.
Lavarnway stepped up next and carried Spears home with a towering dinger to left-center, augmenting the edge to 5-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, Spears and Lavarnway would cross the plate once more to stamp the insurance and finalize the 7-2 upshot. Hector Luna’s infield single, which sent Lavarnway home from third, allowed the No. 5-slotted hitter to belatedly join the evening’s production club.
What was he so worried about? Before making a rare start at the shortstop post, versatile fielder Spears expressed his doubts about his capabilities in that particular position. Yet his outing included initiating a double-play for the first two outs of the second innings and being the middle man in an important center-to-short-to-third relay that culminated in Luna tagging Thompson to end the third.
But the magnitude of those plays paled in comparison to one in the fifth, when Spears fielded Cody Overbeck’s grounder and used it to deny Josh Barfield’s bid to score from third for the second out of the fifth, preserving the PawSox’ 2-1 lead for the moment.
His results were not quite as glamorous as those of some of his teammates, but Lars Anderson was certainly punishing the ball with sufficient assertion Tuesday night. He just missed homering in each of his first two plate-appearances, flying out to the left-center warning track on the first pitch of the fourth and putting Pawtucket ahead, 2-1, with a double that sent Lavarnway home from second. In his third at-bat in the sixth, Anderson flied out to deep center, just shy of the warning track,. And in the eighth, he nudged Spears home on an RBI single to make it a 6-2 advantage.
Lin extended his hitting streak to five games upon singling to lead off the fourth. By the time he deposited another base hit to commence the home half of the sixth, he had logged a pair of singles and a run-scored for the second straight night.
Jason Rice was the lone pitcher on either side with a genuinely commendable performance Tuesday. He was summoned with no outs and two baserunners on board in the eighth and proceeded to retire each of the last six Lehigh Valley batters, three of them by way of the strikeout.
Starter Felix Doubront unwillingly explained himself when he apparently re-aggravated a hamstring ailment sustained in Portland last week. That ended his night after 4.1 so-so innings-pitched, the first of which were much more sparkling than those that followed.
Doubront went from a pair of easy 1-2-3 frames with no pitches redirected into the outfield to letting six of his next nine challengers lob the ball far. Three of those resulted in doubles, the only three hits the starter allowed. And 21 out of his final 46 pitches were balls.
In relief, neither Scott Atchison nor Clevelan Santeliz contributed much to the 2011 bullpen’s scrapbook. They each recorded a hit-batsman and Santeliz, who was forked out in the eighth after hitting Kevin Frandsen and walking Delwyn Young with nobody out, finished his quick shift with 16 balls and only 19 strikes.
Bocock reaped four throw-outs within the first five innings from his post at shortstop and sparkled on both sides of the ball in the third inning. In the top half, he scored the game’s first run upon executing a perfect hit-and-run that allowed him to go home from first ahead of Thompson’s double. In the home half, he fielded Luis Exposito’s leadoff grounder and initiated a double-play that abolished PawSox runner Ronald Bermudez and batter Matt Sheely.
Brian Bass stayed on duty for a full seven innings in his third start against Pawtucket this season. Despite being roughed up by the opponent’s top four batters, he held the bottom five hitless, logged six strikeouts and authorized only one walk.
Justin De Fratus succeeded Bass for a less-than-memorable eighth from an IronPig perspective. De Fratus’ tab included a walk, two runs, two hits, a passed ball by battery-mate Erik Kratz and a wild pitch.
One night after the PawSox blemished their own defensive mug with three errors, Lehigh Valley committed its own troika of blunders Tuesday night. Two of them, both committed by the third-baseman Frandsen in a simple throwing attempt, allowed Spears to reach base in the sixth and eighth innings.