Monday, April 21, 2014

Post-game Pop-ups: PawSox 4, Bisons 3

Swift Summation
While the Pawtucket Red Sox let two baseballs get away from the playing surface, they did not let the Buffalo Bisons run them out of their own yard. They deleted 1-0 and 3-1 deficits, both the products of visiting home runs, to scrape out a 4-3 triumph at McCoy Stadium Monday night.

Buffalo nabbed the initial lead when Steve Tolleson lobbed a payoff pitch over the left-center wall in the first.

Bryce Brentz constituted Pawtucket’s first baserunner in the second when he belted the ball in roughly the same direction. Although he did not leave the yard and settled for a double, Garin Cecchini helped him finish the trip with an opposite-field RBI single.

After a pair of 1-2-3 stanzas, PawSox starter Brandon Workman surrendered another dinger and another visiting lead in the fourth. Chris Gentz bunted his way to first, then flew home with Dan Johnson, who made it 3-1 on a shot to right.

Justin Henry brought the Sox back within one run in the bottom of the fifth. With two teammates aboard and two out, he catapulted a single to right, sending Christian Vazquez home from second.

One inning later, back-to-back one-out singles and a wild pitch by Bisons reliever Rob Rasmussen put Cecchini and Brentz in scoring position. They each finished their round trip on another fugitive toss and a throwing error by catcher Erik Kratz, usurping a 4-3 lead for Pawtucket.

Johnson nearly nullified that lead in the eighth by lining a one-out single to the centerfield lawn. He placed himself and Getz at the corners, but Tolleson’s hustle from second was foiled by Mike McCoy’s relay to first baseman Ryan Lavarnway and Lavarnway’s throw to Vazquez at the plate.

Alex Wilson, who replaced Chris Hernandez after that chaotic sequence, retired the final Buffalo batter of the inning and then picked up the save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

PawSox Pluses
McCoy’s initiative on the eighth-inning relay was not his only demonstration of defensive prowess Monday night. Earlier, he arguably stemmed a would-be Buffalo stampede by running down each of four flies in his neighborhood, giving him credit for half of Pawtucket’s first eight putouts on the night. That variously confined the deficit to a single run and preserved the 1-1 tie. Fittingly enough, he later nabbed the final out on a soft liner via Matt Tuiasosopo.

Although he left the game on the hook for a potential loss, Workman turned in a decisive improvement over his other two starts so far in 2014. Over two previous outings versus Rochester and Buffalo, he aggregated a mere 4.1 innings and three strikeouts. On Monday, he benched seven Bisons via the “K” in a full five innings of work. He finished his shift by striking out the side for a 1-2-3 fifth.

Henry recorded his first multi-hit effort since his season debut on April 8 versus Syracuse. His seventh-inning double to the left-field corner ensured a season-best three hits in a single night. With his 3-for-4 finish, he finished the game with a .265 batting average on the year after entering the action sitting on the Mendoza Line.

Sox Stains
Will Middlebrooks had a rough rehab debut, striking out twice and going 0-for-3 before yielding his third-base post to Carlos Rivero after the fifth inning.

Of those who played the full contest, and for all of his aforementioned accomplishments in the outfield, McCoy was the only other Pawtucket player not to join in on the offense. He brooked a pair of strikeouts after grounding in his first plate appearance to finish identical to Middlebrooks at 0-for-3.

Bisons Notes
Pitcher Marcus Stroman’s auspicious start crumbled after four irreproachable innings. After only two of his first 15 challengers reached scoring position, he authorized six base hits out of his next nine. Three of those resultant runners crossed the plate, putting four earned runs and 10 hits in 5.1 innings pitched on his tab.

Two of Johnson’s three home runs and seven of his 11 RBIs this season have come against Pawtucket.

Anthony Gose struck out eight times in 16 at bats during his team’s four-game visit to McCoy.

Brentz mustered a hit in each installment of this series and has reached base in one fashion or another in each of the last nine outings.

Shane Victorino patrolled right field for seven innings and batted 1-for-4 in his second rehab outing at the Triple-A level. 
Tommy Layne threw two scoreless stanzas in immediate relief of Workman to pick up the win and improve his record to 3-1.

The PawSox salvaged a 2-2 split in Buffalo’s visit, giving them two wins and three splits through their first five series of 2014.

Video from the minorleaguebaseball YouTube channel