Last Monday, it was a steady flow of smooth-riding low Tides for Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher Doug Mathis. This Monday, it was an overwhelming crush of high Tides.
In a rematch of his 4-0 victory down in Norfolk, Mathis left the Memorial Day tilt at McCoy Stadium with a 6-2 deficit after 5.1 innings of work. It would morph into a 6-4 loss for the PawSox.
One week after he confined the Tides to one baserunner in a seven-inning shutout gem at Harbor Park, Mathis allowed twice as many men on board within the first inning. A 4-6-3 double-play at the expense of cleanup man and Major League veteran Miguel Tejada quelled any Norfolk threat, at least for the time being.
In the third, Jai Miller belted a second straight payoff pitch over the opposite wall in right-center, spotting the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Nate Spears retorted in the bottom half, driving his third dinger of the homestand over the right-field wall and picking up Pedro Ciriaco on the way home to seize a 2-1 lead for the PawSox. But following a leadoff single by former Boston infielder Bill Hall, Tejada was just as quick to draw a 2-2 knot by lining a double into the left-field corner, scoring Hall from first base.
Nudged to third by Joe Mahoney’s single, Tejada restored the Norfolk lead to 3-2 courtesy of Luis Exposito’s RBI base hit with still nobody out in the fourth. Jamie Hoffmann’s fifth-inning solo shot augmented the advantage to 4-2.
The Tides’ inning-by-inning erosion of Mathis rolled right along into the sixth. Brandon Waring slugged a one-out double off the left-center wall and Blake Davis followed up with another homer for a 6-2 edge.
That would be it for the starter, who immediately gave way to Garret Mock.
Josh Kroeger nibbled into the deficit in the bottom of the seventh with a double, followed by a nudge over to third via Alex Hassan and a sacrifice fly by Ronald Bermudez. In his next plate appearance, Kroeger cleared the fence on Jon Link’s first pitch to make it 6-4 with one out in the ninth.
But after that and a double by Ronald Bermudez, pinch-hitter Mauro Gomez grounded out to thwart the rally.
Kroeger, Hassan and the No. 9-slotted Jonathan Hee combined to account for six of Pawtucket’s eight hits, each charging up two.
Spears extended his hitting streak to seven games, his run-scoring streak to six and his RBI streak to three. He has now driven in a total of five runs in as many games this homestand.
Mathis matched a couple of season-worst stats with the 10 hits (May 16 at Durham) and six runs allowed (May 1 at Toledo).
Darnell McDonald got on base for the first time in three games since his reassignment from Boston. But it was hardly worth flattering oneself over as he was hit by Norfolk starter Zach Clark’s pitch in the first inning.
Afterwards, McDonald struck out in each of his next two encounters with Clark, who otherwise claimed no other strikeout victims in his six innings of work. McDonald is now 0-for-8 at the Triple-A level in 2012.
In addition to McDonald, the rest of the heart of Pawtucket’s batting order was hardly beating on Monday. Ryan Lavarnway drew a walk, but otherwise combined with Lars Anderson to go 0-for-7.
Tides notesExposito, a veteran of five-plus seasons in the Red Sox organization and 92 games with Pawtucket last year and this April, faced his original organization for the first time since his rights were swapped from Boston to Baltimore. He was on recall to the parent Orioles during the PawSox visit to Harbor Park last week.
Leadoff man Lew Ford was the only visiting batter not to whittle a hit off of Mathis, going 0-for-3 against the PawSox starter. Yet in the sixth, on the first pitch he faced from Mock, he landed a double on the centerfield warning track.
On recall from Double-A Bowie, Clark won his season debut with the Tides and garnered his first victorious decision at the Triple-A level since 2008.
MiscellanyAlthough he saw no action, centerfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was optioned back from the parent Boston Red Sox earlier in the day. He batted 1-for-5 with a run-scored and two strikeouts in five games-played during his eight-day promotion.
In relief of Mathis, Mock and Alex Wilson combined to allow zero runs on three hits and strike out five of the Tides over 3.2 innings.