The first of two in-game conferences between PawSox starter Felix Doubront and pitching coach Rich Sauveur worked in the immediate run. But it came a tad overdue, and its jar of benefits lacked in requisite preservatives.
For his first four out of six innings of work Thursday night, the Rochester Red Wings nibbled at Doubront like a horde of mosquitoes. The result was a 6-0 differential through four innings that eventually morphed into an 8-4 loss for the hosts at McCoy Stadium.
Doubront summoned his first session with Sauveur with one out in the third, at which point he had thrown 16 balls and 23 strikes, with only nine of them landing in catcher Ryan Lavarnway’s glove.
And he had just let men on first and second after Trevor Plouffe’s three-run blast had expanded Rochester’s lead to 4-0, on top of Dustin Martin’s leadoff bomb in the first.
As it happened, once Sauveur returned to the dugout, Doubront threw his first strikeout and Lavarnway teamed up with Luna at third to throw out Aaron Bates for a merciful, inning-ending double-play.
The following inning, Doubront benched leadoff hitter Toby Gardenhire with three-pitch K. But then, upon authorizing back-to-back doubles that augmented the deficit to 5-0, another tutoring session with Sauveur was in order.
Doubront would finish the night with seven straight retired batsmen, but not before Jeff Bailey drove Singleton home for the sixth run immediately following Sauveur’s second visit.
Suiting up for the first time in 11 days, right fielder Ronald Bermudez made a satisfactory impression. He hit a leadoff double in the third, giving Pawtucket its first runner in scoring position. He likewise doubled to lead off the fifth, and this time scored on Jose Iglesias’ subsequent single for the PawSox’ second run.
In a similar vein, second baseman Tony Thomas –who initiated two double-plays on the defensive front- didn’t show any inclination to quit in his first game back from a demotion to Portland. And his persistence proved contagious in the eighth inning, which the Sox entered with an 8-2 deficit glowering down on them.
After starting the night 0-for-3, Thomas singled to lead off the inning after an 11-pitch battle, and then stole second with Daniel Nava up. Nava and Lavarnway both walked to load the bases with still nobody out and Lars Anderson drilled a two-run single to close the gap to 8-4.
Afterwards, Brent Dlugach, the only Pawtucket player to go hitless on the night, drew a walk to reload the bases, although this time everyone would be left stranded.
Just to revisit Doubront’s night, the besieged lefty dropped to 0-3 on the year, losing his second decision in as many ventures and third out of his last five work days. His final tab included a season-worst 10 hits and six earned runs.
And, save for Jason Rice striking out the side on 12 pitches in the seventh, the relief effort was subpar itself. In the final two innings, Rice and Randy Williams combined to allow three walks, three singles, and two insurance runs.
As respectable as his offensive efforts have been of late, Nava’s performance in the outfield was a wholly different story. Six balls were forwarded to his property on the night, six of them for hits, and none for putouts.
Plouffe singled to left in the first. Martin did the same to him in the third, Chase Lambin in the eighth, and Bates in the ninth.
But eclipsing all of that, Nava made the brunt of the blunders in the fourth inning, wherein Rochester stretched its edge from 4-0 to 6-0. First, he failed to avert a double when Steve Singleton laced the ball to the deep end of the left field line.
Singleton would score ahead of Martin’s double and one play later, Nava couldn’t retrieve Bailey’s single quickly enough to stop Martin’s trip home from second base.
Throughout the first three games of this series, and up through the first three innings of Thursday’s bout, Nava and Hector Luna were practically riding twin streaks.
Nava singled his first time up for his seventh hit of the series, then summons a pickoff attempt during Lavarnway’s subsequent at-bat, which culminates in an inning-ending double play.
Like Nava in the previous inning, Luna deposited a one-out single to deep left in the second for his seventh hit of the series. And then, just like Nava, he tantalized Rochester pitcher Thomas Diamond into a pickoff attempt while Dlugach batted.
But then, like Nava, his efforts were vaporized when Dlugach grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Nava later struck out with two men in scoring position to end the third, but not without an earnest, valiant fight. He fouled off three consecutive payoff pitches before he finally whiffed.
Red Wings notes
Yet again, Martin was Rochester’s offensive catalyst. He just about set the earliest tone possible by belting a 2-0 pitch into the right field seats to commence the first, and proceeded to hit 3-for-4 and score three of his team’s runs while batting in another.
Gardenhire, one of only two visiting players not to reach base at any point, contributed silently to the Red Wings’ cause. With nobody out in the eighth, he sacrificed himself on a grounder to push Brian Dinkelman and Lambin into scoring position. They both promptly came home on Singleton’s single to expand the lead to 8-2.
Jim Hoey, one of three Red Wing relievers summoned to action Thursday night, survived the eighth-inning threat and garnered second win in as many decisions on the year.