It took the Pawtucket Red Sox three-and-a-half innings and a few bend-don’t-break moments on defense to start exploiting an experiential discrepancy in Monday night’s starting pitching matchup.
They ultimately lost their delayed rewards and needed to work overtime to regain them. But they did just that with a little help from erratic relief pitching en route to a 3-2 triumph over the Syracuse Chiefs at McCoy Stadium. Back-to-back wild pitches by Daniel Stange brought home Justin Henry in the bottom of the tenth.
For the better part of Monday’s earlier stages, Chris Hernandez, he of 33 previous appearances on a Triple-A mound, countered I.L. debutant Blake Treinen. Yet much of their duel involved Syracuse inducing sweat to Hernandez and the McCoy faithful.
Pawtucket’s first two baserunners—Dan Butler in the third and Christian Vazquez in the fourth—reached on a fielding error. By that point, Syracuse had already placed four hits on Hernandez’s tab.
The Chiefs loaded the bases on three unanswered one-out singles in the third. But Hernandez fanned Jeff Kobernus on three looking strikes and induced a grounder by Steve Souza to quell the threat.
The Sox hatched their “H” column goose-egg in the fourth, when Corey Brown’s no-out double put himself and Vazquez in scoring position. On the next pitch, Brandon Snyder broke the ice where it mattered most by scoring Vazquez on a base hit.
Brown hustled to third when Bryce Brentz grounded into a double play, then doubled the lead to 2-0 with the help of Garin Cecchini’s deposit in right-center.
Syracuse cut the difference to 2-1 in the sixth. A pair of Pawtucket fielding errors placed Zach Walters and Steve Souza at the corners before Jhonatan Solano drove Souza home on a single.
Two innings later, the Chiefs loaded the bases on a single and back-to-back walks. Bryan Villareal’s wild pitch to Emmanuel Burriss invited Solano home from third to draw a 2-2 knot.
Syracuse outhit Pawtucket, 10-4, and the Sox did not cultivate any bases with their bats after Butler’s seventh-inning double. Two walks and the two wild pitches did the trick in the tenth.
In both the second and fourth innings, the middle of the infield followed the same procedure under the same circumstances to stifle Syracuse and sustain the scoreless draw.
Both times, Zach Walters reached base with one away. But on the next play, second baseman Mike McCoy fielded a Solano grounder and handed things over to shortstop Heiker Meneses, whose tag and toss to first terminated the Chiefs’ turn.
Between those defensive dandies, McCoy and Meneses each sacrificed their turns at bat to send Butler to third base in the bottom of the third.
Meneses collaborated with the catcher Vazquez to foil Burriss’ stealing attempt in the seventh. From there, relief pitcher Alex Wilson struck out Eury Perez and Souza to polish the frame.
Vazquez softened another Syracuse threat in the ninth by picking off Souza at first before Brock Peterson struck out looking to strand Perez on second.
Hernandez had several shaky stretches in 4.2 innings of work. Three of his 92 pitches fell in the dirt and a total of 37 went down as balls. His only no-hit inning was the second, when he walked Walters, and he twice let the Chiefs load the bases.
The second instance came on the heels of losing his shutout when Brian Goodwin belted a single on a 3-1 delivery. At that point, manager Kevin Boles forked him out in favor of Wilson.
The bullpen was not much better. Rich Hill started the eighth by retiring his first two challengers, only to give up a two-out single to Solano and walk Goodwin. At that point, Villarreal took over, threw a wild pitch whilst loading the bases on another walk and then tossed another fugitive ball for Solano’s equalizer.
Former Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen served as Treinen’s first successor, charging up a 1-2-3 sixth on 20 pitches.
Despite batting eighth and ninth, respectively, Brandon Laird and Burriss nailed two hits apiece to account for half of the Chiefs’ first eight of the night. Solano joined them in the multi-hit club when he swatted a two-out single in the eighth, as did Perez with a leadoff base hit in the ninth.
The cleanup man Peterson, who came into the series on the three-game hit streak, was the only visiting batter not to reach base in any fashion. He went 0-for-5 with two groundouts, a liner, a pop-up and a strikeout.
After allowing a double to Butler. Xavier Cedeno pitched an otherwise two seamless innings of relief, retiring six straight, including three strikeouts, in the seventh and eighth.
Craig Breslow, who is rehabbing a shoulder injury en route back to Boston, delayed Hernandez’s start by pitching the first inning. The PawSox explained via Twitter that potential rain later in the game compelled the club to ensure action for Breslow rather than risk waiting for a potentially nonexistent relief opportunity.
Craig Resop, who came on in the tenth and struck out two of his four batters-faced, picked up credit for the win.
Henry, ordinarily a second baseman, took to center field for his 2014 season debut.
Because of unfavorable weather over the better part of the I.L. map, the Sox and Chiefs engaged in one of only two games across the league Monday night. The other was a battle of North Carolina with the Durham Bulls hosting the Charlotte Knights.