It took a game-and-a-half off their schedule for the Pawtucket Red Sox’ carbonation to reach critical mass. When it did, virtually the entire batting order had a hand in a fifth-inning frenzy that flip-flopped a 4-0 deficit into an 8-4 lead en route to a 9-4 triumph over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at McCoy Stadium Friday night.
It took eight-and-a-half innings for Mother Nature to spill over her own outpouring, which meant declaring the victor three outs early.
In the tone-setting stages, it appeared Groundhog Day was coming for seconds two months later. Several statistical elements from Thursday’s Part I of this season-opening four-game set surfaced yet again.
To start, the IronPigs reaped their second 4-0 advantage in as many nights all within the third inning. Ronny Cedeno plated Clete Thomas on a single, then flew home with Reid Brignac and Cameron Rupp, whose second dinger of the season quadrupled the difference.
Entering the bottom of the fifth, Pawtucket had likewise matched its opening-night output of zero runs on two hits. That was when Christian Vazquez and Mike McCoy dislodged the cork with doubles to sandwich Corey Brown’s walk and whittle the deficit in half.
With still no outs in the frame, Brock Holt singled and Alex Hassan and Ryan Lavarnway walked. McCoy tallied the Sox’ third run on a wild pitch during Hassan’s at-bat before Lavarnway loaded the bases.
All three came back to the dugout safely with a walk to Bryce Brentz and a two-bagger by Garin Cecchini. Vazquez’s liner to left finished the round trip for those two and augmented the newfangled Pawtucket edge to 8-4.
Holt led off the home half of the sixth with a double and constituted his team’s ninth run with the aid of a Brentz base hit.
Although he authorized the four-run outburst in the third inning and did not make it to the fourth, pitcher Anthony Ranaudo did bench seven IronPigs on strikes. The formidable Maikel Franco went down on a combined nine pitches in his two encounters with the PawSox’ starter.
Holt piloted the PawSox’ eruption with two runs-scored on three hits and a walk while Brentz, Cecchini, Vazquez and McCoy charged up two RBIs apiece.
Designated hitter Dan Butler had the lonesome distinction of being the lone Pawtucket player not to cross the plate. In fact, he constituted the first out of the fifth with one of his three strikeouts on the night.
Butler got caught looking at the deciding strike in both his fifth- and sixth-inning plate appearance. In so doing, he left Cecchini to clear the bases in the former sequence and left Brentz hanging to close the sixth in the latter.
Starter Barry Enright and reliever Kyle Simon split the albatross of the fateful fifth, accruing four earned runs on their respective tabs. Simon would muster only one out (one of Butler’s “Ks”), along with a wild pitch, three walks and two hits, before giving way to Cesar Jimenez.
The parent Boston Red Sox doled out their 2013 World Series championship rings at Fenway Park’s season opener Friday afternoon. Eight active PawSox players—Drake Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Holt, Lavarnway, Brandon Snyder, Brayan Villarreal, Allen Webster and Alex Wilson—each made a cameo to receive their rings and darted back across the state border for the Triple-A game.
With “credit” for four earned runs within an even four innings of work, Ranaudo and Enright each exited their first starts of 2014 with identical 9.00 ERAs.
Resilience was rampant on the Rhode Island sports scene Friday night as the Providence Bruins, who were home at the Dunkin Donuts Center, deleted a 2-0 deficit to top the Worcester Sharks in a shootout, 3-2.