One evening before families break out their cold beverage coolers from coast to coast, the Pawtucket Red Sox batting brigade unleashed its own form of carbonation at McCoy Stadium Sunday night.
After initially trailing 1-0 and 2-1, the PawSox plated at least one run in each of the first five innings to sculpt a gaping 7-2 lead and paced themselves to a 9-3 victory over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
The day after only two men combined for three hits in two shutout losses to the Yankees, eight Pawtucket players combined for 14 hits. Four of them (Ryan Khoury, Ryan Lavarnway, Lars Anderson, Luis Exposito) logged themselves multiple hits. Khoury, Anderson, Ronald Bermudez, and Luis Exposito all left the yard.
Each of the first six pitches Scranton put into play (and seven of the first eight) reached the outfield. But after Jordan Parraz’s second-inning homer to left-center nudged the Yankees ahead, 2-1, the visitors virtually ran out of fireworks.
Starter Kevin Millwood would neutralize the Yankees for four scoreless innings and only allow one more run in the form of Terry Tiffee’s solo blast in the sixth. He finished with 7.0 innings-pitched, six strikeouts, and six hits on 103 pitches and improved to 4-0 since being acquired from none other than Scranton.
Anderson, who had scored to tie the game 2-2 in the second, broke that same knot when hit his first home run since June 4. He belted a 0-1 pitch to right field, bringing home Lavarnway to grant Pawtucket a 4-2 lead in the third.
Lavarnway’s two-out single scored two insurance runs in the fourth and Bermudez hit a solo shot in the fifth. Exposito did the same in the seventh to make it 8-3 and a bases-loaded wild pitch by Scranton reliever Andrew Backman in the eighth invited James Kang home from third to finalize the 9-3 differential.
Khoury, recalled from Portland earlier in the day, made pivotal plays on both sides of the ball in his first Triple-A game of the year. Assuming the second slot in the batting order, he homered his first time up by belting a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall, giving Pawtucket its first run of the series.
Khoury had previously seen action in 17 games with the PawSox last season along with nine in 2006, but had yet to hit a Triple-A homer until Sunday night.
On the defensive end, Khoury thwarted Scranton’s threat to augment what was then a 2-1 deficit when he initiated a routine 4-6-3 double play to end the top of the second.
In the fourth, with his team now ahead on the strength of Anderson’s dinger, Khoury singled to push Che-Hsuan Lin to second. The two runners would each steal on a single play to put themselves in scoring position and then augment the lead to 6-2 on Lavarnway’s RBI single.
In his fourth at-bat, Khoury valiantly denied Scranton starter Greg Smith what would have been his only 1-2-3 inning. With two out in the sixth and a 2-2 count at hand, Khoury fouled off three pitches and took a third ball before he singled to center.
Another new face, Jeremy Kehrt, stood out in relief of Millwood. On the day he was summoned from Single-A Salem, Kerht pitched a facile 1-2-3 eighth, luring the Yankees into three routine grounders.
When this was still a contest, namely in the first two innings, there was room for Pawtucket blunders to jut out, which they did.
A first-inning, two-out wild pitch by Millwood allowed Austin Krum to scurry over from second to third, from which he scored easily on Tiffee’s single to shallow center. Odds are, based on where the ball landed, Krum could not have scored from second on that play. In turn, if not for that wild pitch, Millwood could have held Scranton scoreless in the first.
In the bottom half, Lin failed to extend a leadoff single to a double, costing the PawSox what could have been their first baserunner right off the bat.
For whatever reason, cleanup man Hector Luna couldn’t book a float for Sunday night’s hit parade, going 0-for-5.
At first, it looked like Austin Krum was going to have another batter’s box buffet on Pawtucket’s tab. He led off with a three-pitch single and ultimately scored the first run of the game on Tiffee’s aforementioned single.
But afterwards, Krum grounded into a double-play and struck out twice. Millwood finished his night with a three-pitch K that caught Krum looking to end the seventh.
The DH Tiffee went 3-for-4, thus accounting for half of the Yankees’ hits against Millwood. Tiffee logged two RBIs and two extra base hits, those being a fourth-inning leadoff double and a solo shot in the sixth.
For the second time in as many days, a PawSox batter went down ailing upon being struck by a pitch. Jose Iglesias left in the eighth when Backman plunked him with a 2-0 delivery. He was replaced by Kang in the basepaths and at shortstop.
Michael Bowden yielded a single to Laird and a walk to Parraz, but otherwise had little trouble garnering his eighth save of the year. He curtained his shift the same way Millwood had, by catching Doug Bernier looking at a three-pitch strikeout.
For the second straight night, the McCoy masses arrived in season-high numbers. The announced attendance 12,865 eclipsed the 10,111 who turned out for Saturday’s 7-0 loss.