The night after they fatally withheld their carbonation until the eleventh hour against Corey Kluber and Co. in Tuesday’s series opener, the PawSox picked up where they left off to dismantle Columbus Clippers starter Jeanmar Gomez early on Wednesday.
Gomez ultimately had a blunderstruck defense to blame more than himself as he allowed one earned-run, yet Pawtucket put five tallies on the board in the first three innings en route to a 5-2 triumph at McCoy Stadium.
Columbus’ Tim Ferdoff set the tone for a night characterized by a need for patience as he drew first blood on a station-to-station basis. He singled to lead off the first, advanced to second on Cord Phelps’ base hit, hustled to third on a fielder’s choice and finished the journey home ahead of Nick Johnson’s two-out single.
Pawtucket pole-vaulted right ahead in the bottom half. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Hector Luna grounded into a force-out at third that scored Lin for a 1-1 tie. Daniel Nava subsequently singled to score Nate Spears for a 2-1 edge.
Nava raised the upper hand higher to 4-1 in the third with a two-run double that scored Luna and Nate Spears. On the same play, Nava advanced to third with the help of a throwing error by Clippers’ right fielder Shelley Duncan. From there, he was caught stealing home, but by then Brett Carroll had walked and stole second while the Columbus defense was preoccupied with Nava.
Carroll proceeded to score from second for Pawtucket’s fifth run ahead of Luis Exposito’s single to shallow center.
In the fourth, as reliever Junichi Tazawa’s first challenger, Phelps grounded into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded that left himself and Argenis Reyes on the corners and scored Luke Carlin to make it 5-2.
Gomez and reliever Matt Langwell combined to let only one more PawSox batter on base in the latter four-and-a-half innings.
But Tazawa, Randy Williams and Michael Bowden were almost equally sharp, allowing only three Clippers on board and stranding each of them within the same time frame.
Whilst safeguarding a 2-1 edge with two men on and nobody out in the top of the third, the third baseman Spears and the centerfielder Lin collaborated to thwart Phelps’ plans to turn Duncan’s third-inning fly into a sacrifice, turning it instead into a critical double-play.
On the offensive side, Lin’s leadoff double in the first constituted his first extra-base hit since another double versus Buffalo 12 days prior.
Succeeding Tony Pena, Jr. with one out in the fourth, Tazawa had his longest of three relief outings in his first week-plus with the PawSox this season. He made the most of it by allowing only one unearned run and one walk while striking out five of his 10 challengers in 3.1 innings-pitched en route to his first Triple-A victory of the season. Tazawa went a cumulative 3-3 between Salem and Portland earlier in the year.
Tazawa’s five strikeouts were one more than either of the two starters mustered on the night.
Only a tiptoe-standing defense and an opportunistic offense eclipsed Pena’s early-and-often follies Wednesday night. Through three innings alone, Pena’s bushel of hits-allowed was already up to six, matching that of his previous two outings, which lasted an even seven and five innings, respectively. And he had already thrown 58 pitches and had a hit-batsman on his tab up to that point.
Pena left after walking Fedroff to load the bases with one out in the top of the fourth. He initially led Fedroff in the count, 0-2, but crumbled with his first ball being a wild pitch that put Reyes and Carlin in scoring position. He would be charged with Carlin’s run-scored as Tazawa worked on his behalf.
Gomez went on an early pattern between multi-run and 1-2-3 innings. While he let two PawSox cross the plate in the first and three in the third, he also retired the side with no trouble in the second and fourth. Gomez appeared to be settling down when he retired Ryan Lavarnway, Luna and Nava in order in the fifth and then throwing a 1-2-3 sixth.
Phelps went (3-for-4) on the night with a pair of leadoff doubles in the third and seventh innings joining his single in the first. Fedroff, Phelps and Johnson joined him in the evening’s multi-hit club with a pair of singles apiece.
The cleanup-hitting Duncan and No. 6-hitting third baseman Jared Goedert each struck out three times.
In his last three games and 13 plate appearances, Lavarnway has reached base five times, but only once by way of a hit, that being a solo homer at Gwinnett Monday night. Lavarnway has also walked twice and reached on an opposing infielder’s error. On Wednesday, he walked to load the bases in the first and reached first on Goedert’s fielding error with nobody out in the third.
After three appearances Wednesday night, the DH Lavarnway was replaced by pinch-hitter Lars Anderson in the bottom of the seventh. With Anderson getting the better part of the game off, Luna filled his usual defensive post at first base.
The four PawSox pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts.
The PawSox are now 24-32 when the opposition scores first.