At best, for those who prefer suspense, the walkoff motif has skipped a beat. Nonetheless, in the most technical terms, there was something extra special about the PawSox’ performance Saturday night.
Between four doubles and two home runs, five different Pawtucket hitters combined to drive in 11 unanswered runs and obliterate the Buffalo Bisons, 11-1, before 8,649 fans at McCoy Stadium.
Each of the game’s first five hits went for extra bases. Identically placed doubles into the right-field corner by Luis Figueroa and Valentino Pascucci amounted to a 1-0 lead for the Bisons in the top of the first.
Jed Lowrie hit his own two-bagger down the left field line, though he was ultimately stranded in the bottom half. But in the second, with Hector Luna on board with a walk, Brent Dlugach lobbed a two-run homer to the Bisons bullpen in the opposite field to usurp a 2-1 edge for the PawSox.
Che-Hsuan Lin led off the third with a walk and Lowrie deposited another double to the right-center warning track, scoring Lin and raising the upper hand to 3-1.
That difference stood pat over the next five half innings as the teams combined to waste five singles. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Brett Carroll and Hector Luna each belted a two-out double to make it a 4-1 edge.
If anyone was weighing the matchup between Buffalo southpaw Pat Misch and Tony Pena, Jr. based on pitch count, it was never any contest. The Pawtucket batting brigade did its part to hasten Misch’s exit, although Bisons manager Tim Teufel chose to leave his starter on until after 110 pitches over 5.2 innings.
Of his first 17 challengers on the night, 12 forced Misch to throw at least five pitches in a single confrontation. Yet he might have lasted an even six stanzas were it not for Carroll and Luna’s back-to-back doubles that denied him a 1-2-3 sixth. Misch was finally finished when Daniel Nava followed Luna’s RBI double with an infield single to third.
Conversely, Pena threw only 85 pitches through seven innings, matching a season-high for his longest start. And after the two doubles in the opening frame, he allowed nothing beyond four fruitless base hits and a walk.
The PawSox broadened the edge by a whopping seven runs in the eighth. Bermudez doubled by catapulting a payoff pitch to the right-center wall, scoring both Nava and Dlugach. Two plays later, Bermudez hustled home on Lowrie’s ground-rule double to right.
Besieged pitcher Gustavo Chacin intentionally walked Ryan Lavarnway to load the bases, after which Lars Anderson slugged a grand slam over the right-center fence to finalize the 11-1 upshot.
Dlugach’s home run constituted his first dinger in 10 games-played and 34 at-bats, dating back to July 16 versus Durham. Not exactly a splash on a protracted drought, but certainly a refreshing change of pace from the 14 strikeouts he had logged in the 34 at-bats in between.
Furthermore, Buffalo pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts against the PawSox, yet Dlugach and Bermudez were the only ones not to be benched on strikes.
On the other side of the ball, Luna was one of the busiest and most reliable position players in the early going. Within the first three innings, he garnered credit for two putouts and three assists, catching a popup and a sharp liner by Joshua Satin to end the third.
In relief of Pena to commence the eighth, Royce Ring earned his first 1-2-3 inning as a member of the PawSox.
After an otherworldly start to his Pawtucket tenure with Friday night’s walkoff hit, it was a bit of an impactful plummet back to reality for Carroll. The No. 5-slotted batter struck out three times and was the only member of the Sox’ batting order who failed to reach base multiple times on the night.
For the second consecutive night, the first baseman Satin was charged with a fielding error upon failing to catch a foul popup.
Pascucci was the only Bison to log a multi-hit game. In addition to his RBI double in the first, he singled to lead off the fourth.
Pascucci was also the only Bison to strike out multiple times and one of only three Buffalo batters to strike out at all Saturday. The K department was patently the only bright spot for the Bisons in this one-sided slugfest.
Both teams made roster moves prior to Saturday’s contest.
Earlier in the day, the parent New York Mets recalled Nick Evans from the Bisons and optioned Mike Nickeas to the Triple-A level. Nickeas succeeded starting catcher Raul Chavez to commence the bottom of the eighth after Luis Hernandez pinch-hit for Chavez in the top half.
Meanwhile, the PawSox released outfielder Zach Daeges, who has not seen action anywhere since June 19 with Lowell.
Pawtucket improved to 23-30 when the opposition scores the first run.
Anderson hit the fifth PawSox grand slam this year and has slugged each of the last two, the previous one coming against Durham July 16.