Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Post-game Pop-ups: PawSox 11, Tides 8

Swift summation
Percolating a pattern of feast and famine the last four nights, Pawtucket Red Sox cleanup hitter Lars Anderson piloted his team’s second victory in three tries Tuesday. Batting 2-for-4, drawing a walk and driving home five runs, Anderson catalyzed one comprehensive slugfest of an 11-8 victory over the Norfolk Tides at McCoy Stadium.

The visiting Tides outhit the Sox, 16-15, and the teams combined to use nine pitchers. Starters Ross Ohlendorf of Pawtucket and Eddie Gamboa of Norfolk each incurred 10 hits on their tab, including two home runs.

Anderson’s cleanup counterpart, Miguel Tejada, constituted Norfolk’s third base hit of the opening stanza with runners at the corners, scoring Jamie Hoffmann from third and nudging Bill Hall over the second with one out.

Ohlendorf hit his next challenger, Joe Mahoney, to load the sacks for former PawSox catcher Luis Exposito. But he bailed himself out with only a one-run deficit by benching both Exposito and Brandon Waring on strikes.

Pawtucket’s bat rack wasted no time issuing a more massive, albeit largely passive, retort in the bottom half. Pedro Ciriaco’s base hit was followed by four unanswered walks to force in the equalizer and the go-ahead run. Later, with two outs, Nate Spears lined a single to left, scoring Ryan Lavarnway and Anderson for a 4-1 advantage.

Having batted around in the first, the Sox started from the top and once again loaded the bases with no outs in the second. Anderson’s single knocked home Ciriaco and Che-Hsuan Lin, though Lavarnway was thrown out by right field Jai Miller as he tried to advance to third.

Miller led off the fourth with a home run to left field, whittling the Tides’ deficit down to 6-2. Lew Ford’s single and Jamie Hoffmann’s four-pitch walk were immediately followed by Bill Hall’s blast to left-center, making it 6-5.

Anderson left the yard in the bottom half with Lavarnway on board for an 8-5 Pawtucket advantage. Josh Kroeger stashed his own shot over the right field wall, his second in as many days, later in the inning to make it 9-5.

At that point, PawSox-turned-Tides manager Ron Johnson made the night’s first pitching change, forking out Gamboa in favor of Oscar Villarreal. Ohlendorf himself was gone the following inning with Junichi Tazawa coming out of the bullpen for the fifth.

Tazawa nearly had a 1-2-3 sixth, but Mahoney’s third strike got away and gave him a free pass to first base. Exposito subsequently pounced with an RBI double to left-center, which he extended to a three-bagger while Mahoney hustled home. 

But a fugitive third strike on Lin would also extend Pawtucket’s half of the seventh. With Tony Thomas aboard second base, Lavarnway sent him home on a single for a 10-6 lead.

With runners at the corners in the eighth, Tejada grounded into a fielder’s choice that nabbed Hall, but scored Hoffmann. Mauro Gomez promptly restored Pawtucket’s four-run advantage with a solo dinger to right.

Red Sox relievers Chorye Spoone and Will Inman combined to load the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth. Inman then induced a forceout that scored Davis, but nabbed Ford while putting Hoffmann and Miller at the corners.

The fielder’s choice paid dividends as the vacancy at second base opened the door to a game-ending, 4-5-3 double-play.

PawSox pluses
With everybody picking up at least one hit, seven individuals crossing the plate at least once and five different batters logging at least one RBI, Tuesday night’s top-to-bottom offensive outpouring speaks for itself.

Not to be overlooked on the other side of the ball, Lin made an impactful return to the McCoy outfield in his first game since a call-up to Boston, particularly in the third inning.

With the Tides threatening with two men on and nobody out, Lin all but singlehandedly sustained what was then a 6-1 lead. He hustled to scoop up Exposito’s straightaway single and threw Tejada out at the plate.

The very next batter, Waring, just missed at least one or two potential RBIs when Lin caught his fly ball at the straightaway warning track. The centerfielder then caught Blake Davis’ long-range swat to retire the side.

In immediate relief of Ohlendorf, Tazawa recompensed his last outing and garnered a much more deserved winning decision, striking out four and allowing one earned run on two hits in two innings.

Sox stains
Ohlendorf allowed at least two baseunners in each of his four innings of work for a total of 14 on the night. He matched a season-high by authorizing 10 hits while issuing two walks and hit Mahoney in each of their first two encounters.

Other than that, every active resident of the McCoy third-base dugout turned in an irreproachable performance. The closest anyone got to a subpar night was DH Alex Hassan, who didn’t pick up a hit until his last at-bat in the eighth and was the only member of the order to record neither a run-scored or run batted in.

Tides notes
Ohlendorf barely outclassed Gamboa, which doesn’t say much about either party. The Norfolk starter could only last 3.2 innings, allowing nine earned runs on 10 hits as well as the four consecutive walks to Lin, Lavarnway, Anderson and Gomez in the first.

The leadoff man Ford was easily the Tides’ most consistent hitter. He logged a base hit in each of his first four plate appearances, flied out a few feet shy of the right-field warning track in the seventh inning, then loaded the bases on a no-out single in the ninth. In addition, he was the only player on his side not to strike out at any point.

The PawSox broke double digits in the run column for the fourth time this season and the first since a 15-10 victory over Durham on April 20.

Ciriaco made it through a game without striking out for the first time in nine outings.

Norfolk had entered this series having scored no more than four runs and allowed no more than five in any of their previous six games. With the series half-over, they have plated six-plus runs on back-to-back days.

Earlier in the day, Tides pitcher Miguel Gonzalez was recalled to the parent Baltimore Orioles, who in turn sent down pitcher Tommy Hunter and outfielder Xavier Avery.

At three hours and 38 minutes, Tuesday night was the PawSox’ longest game of the 2012 season not to go into extra innings.