Monday, April 14, 2014

Post-game Pop-ups: PawSox 9, Red Wings 5 (8 Innings)

Swift Summation
The Pawtucket Red Sox slugged a season-high 15 hits with six going for extra bases off Rochester Red Wings relief pitchers Monday night. By the time Brandon Snyder doubled to the centerfield gap to lead off the eighth, all nine PawSox batters had picked up a hit.

As such, the fact that starter Trevor May stifled them for a pair of 1-2-3 innings (the first and fourth) went down as strange-but-true trivia in a 9-5 road win at Frontier Field. That fact rivaled the trivial nature of the rainfall that escalated late in the evening, all but symbolizing the PawSox’ outpouring and shortening the contest by a full inning.

Monday’s four-game series opener featured three lead changes with the Red Wings raising a pair of early upper hands. None of Pawtucket’s first three hitters could bump the ball beyond the infield. Each of Rochester’s first three could and did, the first two collaborating for first blood.

Shortstop Danny Santana led off the home half of the first by dropping a payoff pitch into centerfield for a triple. He came home on James Beresford’s follow-up single to left.

The PawSox perked up to claim their first lead in the second. Christian Vazquez stretched an RBI single to extra bases and then went home with the help of Mike McCoy’s base hit.

Eduardo Nunez, Eric Farris and Eric Fryer nailed successive hits to commence the bottom half and all made the round trip to renew Rochester’s lead to 4-2. Sox DH Ryan Lavarnway retorted in the third by singling Justin Henry home from second, halving the deficit to 4-3 through three stanzas.

Pawtucket usurped a 5-4 advantage in the fifth. Alex Hassan’s double rushed Henry in from first base and morphed into an unofficial homer with Santana’s throwing error. Lavarnway and Bryce Brentz followed that with back-to-back two-out singles before Garin Cecchini’s double plated Lavarnway for the Sox’ first multi-run lead.

With Chris Parmelee and Wilkin Ramirez at the corners and one out, Farris got one run back for Rochester by grounding into a force at second. Hassan, however, chopped an RBI single to left Pawtucket’s next time up, bringing home Heiker Meneses (triple) for a 7-5 difference.

Brentz one-upped Hassan with a legitimate home run over the left-field wall to lead off the seventh. McCoy’s two-out double to the left-center warning track and two straight four-pitch walks loaded the bases before Hassan’s lineout to deep left stopped the bleeding.

The Sox simply started over on their next turn. Lavarnway nudged Snyder to third on a single before Brentz bounced into a sacrifice double play that made Snyder the visitors’ ninth run.

PawSox Pluses
Lavarnway’s second multi-hit performance and first three-hit effort of 2014 was also his second in as many days. After starting his fourth career Triple-A campaign on a slump by going hitless in a four-game set with Lehigh Valley, the touted slugger has rebuilt his form. Lavarnway has seen action in seven of Pawtucket’s last nine ventures, hitting safely at least once in seven of those games.

Similarly, Brentz bounced back from a recent mini-slump of three straight hitless performances. He went on a (3-for-5) tear with (two) runs scored and (one) driven in.

Hassan warrants recognition for batting in a run on two separate occasions and scoring one himself.

Reliever Rich Hill muddied up Rochester’s rally effort with a pair of 1-2-3 stanzas, a feat that starter Anthony Ranaudo could not muster in any of his five full innings of work. Hill retired each of his first eight challengers before authorizing Fryer’s pop-up single to second with two away in the eighth.

Sox Stains
When one’s team is safeguarding a four-run lead and one inning away from wrapping things up, there is no cause to incur an ejection. Yet that is exactly what Sox skipper Kevin Boles did by disputing the decision to delay the ninth with third-base umpire Brad Myers (per Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reporter Jim Mandelaro via Twitter).

It amounted to no eventual damage, but Meseses’ team-worst third error of the season, a misplaced toss to Snyder at first, placed Santana in scoring position with two away in the fourth.

Red Wings Notes
Santana tripled in each of his first two plate appearances, factoring into a run for each sequence. Besides constituting the first-inning icebreaker, he drove Fryer home in the second. To put that into perspective, the Louisville Bats and Syracuse Chiefs each have one triple as a team and the Columbus Clippers zero through their first 10 respective games.

Designated hitter Deibinson Romero had a vinegary 0-for-4 outing, making him the lone Wing not to reach base or factor in to the scoring in any fashion. The only other Rochester batter not to successfully bolt the plate was No. 9 man Chris Rahl, who garnered credit for an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the second. 

Hassan was the first batter to face each of Rochester’s first three relievers. He greeted Brooks Raley with his fifth-inning double and, singled off Edgar Ibarra in the sixth and lined out to end an eight-pitch tussle with A.J. Achter.

Ranaudo incurred five earned runs on eight hits, but also fanned five Red Wings batters en route to his first win in three starts.

With a 1-for-4 effort Monday night, Cecchini has hit safely in 10 of his first 11 career outings at the Triple-A level.

At 7-5 on the year, the Sox have more wins than any of their I.L. North cohabitants. However, the Red Wings (6-4) and Buffalo Bisons (6-3) remain ahead by virtue of games in hand.

Inclement weather has prevented two of Pawtucket’s seven victories from reaching the ninth inning. The other was a 9-4 romp over the IronPigs on April 4.