Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Post-game Pop-ups: Mud Hens 4, PawSox 0

Swift Summation
Pawtucket Red Sox starter Brandon Workman outlasted and outclassed Toledo Mud Hens counterpart Kyle Lobstein Wednesday night. The problem was his offensive allies made their guest look better and gave four solo home runs from the other dugout an unabated opportunity to make the difference.

Mike Hessman single-handedly cracked open a 2-0 edge before Tyler Collins and Ben Guez went deep to double the lead. The Sox never offered a rebuttal and thus brooked a 4-0 loss at McCoy Stadium.

Workman threw an even seven innings, surpassing his previous season high of six. He confined the Hens to five baserunners on four hits and a walk. Two of those hits did not come until the eighth.

Coming off his first win of the 2014 season—a 5.1 IP effort that saw him fan a season-high seven challengers at Syracuse last Friday—Lobstein raised his own bar. He benched nine PawSox batters on strikes and pitched six full innings for the first time this spring.

By the two-thirds mark, Workman had tossed an efficient 68 pitches, including 43 for strikes, versus Lobstein’s 95. He had yielded only one hit and one walk out of 20 total showdowns with Toledo hitters.

Nothing doing in his duel with Lobstein, for Pawtucket fell behind early in the only meaningful column and could not recompense on offense.

Through the first six innings, the Mud Hens mustered the lone run for either team on their lone hit in that span. The veteran third baseman Hessman led off the second by leveling a payoff pitch over the left-field fence.

The Sox, meanwhile, squandered six baserunners in as many innings against Toledo’s starter. When he secured his 18th out on his 95th pitch, Lobstein took a seat and watched Hessman lend him another dose of support with another solo shot to left in the seventh.

Lobstein returned in the bottom half and upped his pitch count to 100 on a third strike to Garin Cecchini. Only then did he give way to Chad Smith with 6.1 IP to his credit and no reckonable damage on four hits, a walk and a fielding error by Collins in left field.

Workman delivered his 80th pitch of the night to commence the eighth. Collins redirected it over the right-field wall to augment the Mud Hens’ advantage to 3-0.

Seven offerings later, Guez made it back-to-back blasts, depositing another one in the same vicinity and ending Workman’s toil.

PawSox Pluses
The four dingers aside, it is hard to see much justice in hanging Wednesday night’s albatross on Workman’s neck. Of his 87 total pitches, 57 were strikes, only two fewer than the previous season high he set last Friday in a 96-pitch struggle with Indianapolis.

Four of Workman’s seven full innings were of the 1-2-3 variety and he twice struck out leadoff man Daniel Fields. Fields had entered Wednesday’s action having hit safely in each of his previous five outings, including a 4-for-8 rampage over the first half of this series.

Alex Hassan tacked a hit on both Lobstein’s and Smith’s tab. Ryan Roberts did the same with a first-inning double and eighth-inning single.

Sox Stains
In their more anguishing spurts of futility, the PawSox left a cumulative three men hanging in scoring position on Lobstein’s watch. They did the same in the seventh after Hassan singled off Smith and moved to second on a wild pitch.

While he was hardly alone among the victims, Daniel Nava stood out like a prom night pimple by striking out in all three of his confrontations with Lobstein. The first of those “Ks” was of the looking variety and left Roberts on second.

When facing Smith on the mound and Roberts aboard first in the eighth, Nava chopped into an inning-ending 6-3 double play. That concluded the left fielder’s first 0-for-4 showing in nine games played—and 24 hours after he received a night off, no less.

Mud Hens Notes
Hessman touched lefty Chris Hernandez for his third hit of the evening, a lining leadoff single to left in the ninth. His third attempt at a full-diamond tour met an immediate end in the form of a double play.

Former Pawtucket catcher Luis Exposito saw action for the first time in the series, amounting to his sixth official road game at McCoy. He grounded out in all three of his encounters with Workman and whiffed on a 2-2 delivery by Hernandez in the ninth. In turn, he has gone hitless in each of his last four visits to his original Triple-A domain with the Norfolk Tides and Mud Hens.
Jose Ortega closed the game with a 1-2-3 ninth, fanning Bryce Brentz and Garin Cecchini for the final two outs.

Hessman’s first homer was the first by a McCoy visitor since Indianapolis’ Andrew Lambo belted one during the opening installment of the current PawSox homestand. 

Alex Wilson served as Workman’s first reliever, inducing all three outs in the eighth and authorizing a double by Brandon Douglas.
First basemen Ryan Lavarnway of Pawtucket and Jordan Lennerton of Toledo drew Wednesday's only walk for their respective teams.

Video from the minorleaguebaseball YouTube channel