Save for a hit and a walk apiece to Brock Holt and Garin Cecchini, the Pawtucket Red Sox reaped nothing from Lehigh Valley IronPigs starter David Buchanan. The home bat rack cultivated nothing at all from the visiting bullpen in the last three innings and consequently brooked a 4-0 loss at McCoy Stadium to open the 2014 season at McCoy Stadium.
Touted Philadelphia Phillies prospect Maikel Franco, putting in his Triple-A debut with the Pigs, plated the first run in his first at-bat. His one-out single to centerfield nudged Clete Thomas home from third and set the stage for cleanup hitter Jim Murphy’s RBI double, making it 2-0 after half an inning.
Cameron Rupp led off the fourth with a home run to left. Murphy later belted another extra-base hit, a triple, and finalized the 4-0 upshot on a wild pitch in the seventh.
From there, Mike Nesseth, Jeremy Horst and Luis Garcia each took a full inning keeping the PawSox mute. The Lehigh Valley bullpen combined for five strikeouts on nine challengers.
Bryce Brentz terminated Lehigh Valley’s half of the third inning when he hustled and leaped to his right to snare Reid Brignac’s would-be deposit on the right-center lawn. While that hit the highlight reel, the previous play was just as pivotal. Brentz factored into the second out when he cut down Ronny Cedeno at third base.
Holt was the only Pawtucket batter to reach scoring position without the aid of a wild pitch or a fielder’s choice, and he did it twice. The leadoff man walked and stole second in the opening stanza and then doubled in his second plate appearance.
Starting pitcher Allen Webster let the aforementioned Thomas, the Lehigh Valley leadoff man, reach third on a wild pitch before Franco sent him home. Likewise, reliever Dalier Hinojosa let Murphy finalize the scoring with his own toss past batterymate Christian Vazquez.
Webster would last a mere 3.2 innings, authorizing three earned runs on seven hits and two walks.
Three straight relievers—Craig Breslow, Tmmy Layne and Hinojosa—struggled to keep their strike-ball ratio 50-50. Breslow chucked merely 10 strikes out of 20 pitches, Layne 11 of 21 and Hinojosa 17 of 35.
Centerfielder Corey Brown struck out in all three of his plate appearances and did not swing at the deciding strike in the latter two cases. His second “K” came in the fifth inning when Cecchini was on second base with one out.
Brignac, Rupp and Tyler Henson walked two times apiece. Brignac and Henson each stole a base.
Designated hitter Steve Susdorf was the lone visiting batter not to reach base, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and five teammates stranded.
Thursday’s result amounts to Pawtucket’s first loss in a home opener since 2007, when the Sox dropped a 6-2 decision to the Scranton-Wilkes/Barre Yankees. The PawSox have started their overall slate on a losing note for the first time since 2005, when they lost five straight out of the gate.