Thursday, May 24, 2012

Post-game pop-ups: PawSox 4, Mud Hens 1

Swift summation
On a night when his performance earned it for him the most, Ross Ohlendorf ended his five-start winless skid and garnered his first victory since April 21 as the Pawtucket Red Sox held off the Toledo Mud Hens, 4-1, at McCoy Stadium Thursday night.

Ohlendorf threw a season-high 97 pitches over six scoreless innings, his first scoreless outing since his debut with the team April 10 versus Lehigh Valley. He allowed only three hits and one walk while striking out six and throwing three 1-2-3 stanzas.

In between, while facing an equally tricky Toledo left in Adam Wilk, the Sox whittled off two runs worth of support for their pitcher.

Nate Spears drew first blood on Pawtucket’s first hit of the night, slugging a solo shot to right field in the bottom of the second. Two innings later, Ryan Lavarnway augmented the lead to 2-0 by lacing a leadoff double to left, advancing to third on Lars Anderson’s sacrifice grounder and scoring via Mauro Gomez’s single.

The Mud Hens finally got a man past second base and tacked a run on the scoreboard once Clayton Mortensen took over the mound. With two outs in the seventh, Audy Ciriaco rolled a single into left, far enough for Ryan Strieby to score from second.

Mortensen went on to walk the bases loaded, but was bailed out with the 2-1 lead intact when Ben Guez flied out to centerfielder Ronald Bermudez.

Toledo’s first reliever, Rob Waite, was less fortunate in the bottom half. Tony Thomas reached first base on a fielding error, stole second, advanced to third on Bermudez’s sacrifice grounder, then scored ahead of Pedro Ciriaco’s base hit to make it 3-1.

The PawSox reaped one additional dose of insurance out of Waite in the eighth as Alex Hassan singled to center, scoring Lavarnway from second base. Waite promptly gave way to Darin Downs after that.

On the other side of the ball, pitching the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, Will Inman and Mark Melancon yielded nothing beyond a walk apiece. With the off day Wednesday, Melancon was able to save his second straight PawSox victory.

PawSox pluses
Ohlendorf bent, but didn’t break in his final inning of work. He was facing the troublesome top of Toledo’s batting order, which constituted all of the baserunners he authorized on the night, and surrendered his first extra-base hit to Guez. But he left Guez stranded on second base by getting top slugger and designated hitter Brad Eldred to whiff on a payoff pitch.

That would be Eldred’s second K in three bouts with Ohlendorf, who then sat down and turned things over to the bullpen.

Gomez hit 2-for-3 against Wilk and joined Anderson and Hassan as the only three PawSox batters not brook a strikeout from the Mud Hens’ southpaw starter.

Sox stains
All things considered, the only reprehensible actions on the part of any PawSox players was Mortensen spilling the shutout bid and Spears’ fielding error at third base that helped to prolong Mortensen’s drama in the seventh. In other words, it was all quite trivial at night’s end.

Mud Hens notes
Former Sox infielder Brent Dlugach was reactivated from the seven-day disabled list and batted ninth while attending second base for the Mud Hens in his first visit to McCoy since his offseason transfer.

And apart from his attire and the dugout he sat in, Dlugach didn’t look much different to the McCoy masses when it came to facing Ohlendorf. He struck out in each of his first two plate appearances.

Like Ohlendorf, Wilk lasted an even six innings, striking out seven but allowing two extra baserunners and two extra runs.

Bermudez was promoted from Double-A Portland earlier in the day for his Triple-A debut in the 2012 season. He started in centerfield and batted ninth in the PawSox order. Bermudez spent the bulk of the 2011 campaign in Pawtucket, putting in 57 appearances.

Ohlendorf was beaned by Matt Young’s line drive in the top of the first, allowing an infield hit to constitute the night’s first baserunner. Momentarily sore, Ohlendorf remained in the game.

Lavarnway’s fourth-inning double was his fourth two-bagger in his last seven games played. Gomez’s double nudged him into the team lead with 12 on the year, one more than Anderson and Josh Kroeger.

The PawSox will send Justin Germano out to counter Toledo’s Jacob Turner in Part II of this series Friday night.