Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Post-game Pop-ups: Chiefs 7, PawSox 0

Swift Summation
Syracuse Chiefs southpaw Danny Rosenbaum preserved a no-hit bid through the second out of the fifth inning Wednesday afternoon. A 180-degree difference in the performance of counterpart Anthony Ranaudo undid the Pawtucket Red Sox with little delay en route to a 7-0 meltdown at McCoy Stadium.

Each of the first three stanzas saw the Sox surrender at least one run while the offense failed to land a single baserunner.

Syracuse raised the upper hand when Will Rhymes doubled to center and came home on Steven Souza’s opposite-field single to right. Souza, however, botched his attempt to extend his hit to extra bases, effectively minimizing the first-inning damage.

That did nothing to preempt a second-inning outburst. Zach Walters led off the road half of the next frame with a triple to the centerfield warning track. He hustled home when Brian Goodwin utilized the first out with a sacrifice grounder on a payoff pitch.

Souza accelerated the early romp in the third. With Rhymes and Eury Perez at the corners and one away, he belted Syracuse’s first homer of 2014 over the left-field wall for a 5-0 lead.

Garin Cecchini was the first Pawtucket batter to get the ball beyond the infield, though Souza snared his bid in shallow center in the fifth. Corey Brown followed with a single to right, breaking up the no-hitter, but was ultimately stranded.

After three mutually scoreless innings, Red Sox reliever Rich Hill reopened the wound in the seventh. A two-out single by Souza plated Jeff Howell to augment the Chiefs’ lead to 6-0.

Rosenbaum was on his last doses of mojo for the day when the Sox drummed up a rare threat. A leadoff walk to Ryan Lavarnway and a single by Dan Butler put to on board with nobody out. But Rosenbaum rebounded to induce a flyout to Cecchini and fan Brown before giving way to Manny Delcarmen.

Delcarmen’s first challenger, Christian Vazquez, filled the sacks with a single, but Justin Henry’s flyout preserved the shutout.

Syracuse passively picked up its seventh run in the eighth inning when Dalier Hinojosa allowed four straight two-out walks.

PawSox Pluses
There is no way to sugarcoat this. There was nothing positive for the McCoy masses to single out amidst Wednesday afternoon’s mess. 

Sox Stains
Ranaudo’s final stat line for the day: 5.2 innings pitched, five runs (four earned), seven hits, a walk and four strikeouts. Three of the hits he authorized were for extra bases, one of each variety.

Given everything Ranaudo gave the Chiefs to prey upon, Wednesday’s younger innings could have been worse for Pawtucket. The host starter let six of his first 12 challengers reach base on a hit with five translating to runs.

The PawSox defense was the principal reason Syracuse settled for a single run in the first and second. Four fielders collaborated to catch Souza on the base paths in the opening frame. Later, Butler terminated the second when he threw to Brock Holt to cut down Emmanuel Burriss’ stealing attempt and end the third.

That deficit-swelling stanza, though, started with Henry’s fielding error at second, which authorized the inning’s first runner in Perez.

The PawSox finally put a man on base and genuinely threatened after Rosenbaum hit Brock Holt and walked Brandon Snyder in the bottom the fourth. But both runners were left hanging when Lavarnway grounded into a double play up the middle.

Pawtucket would not have multiple baserunners nor place anyone in scoring position again until the seventh. As noted above, that went for naught with outs to Cecchini, Brown and Henry. Ditto the eighth, when Butler’s vain liner stranded Lavarnway and Holt.

Chiefs Notes
Burriss and was the only two Chief to chalk up a hit in all three games of this three-game set. He batted a cumulative 4-for-9 with an RBI, a run scored and three walks.

Cleanup man Brock Peterson finished the series a surprising 0-for-14. On Wednesday, he was the lone Syracuse batter to not reach base or pick up credit for an RBI. Rather, he went 0-for-5 with a different form of out for each at bat (one popup, one fly, one grounder, one liner and one “K.”)

With the loss, the PawSox failed to extend a winning streak to three games for the second time in as many attempts.

The Sox bookended their season-opening, seven-game homestand with a pair of shutout defeats. They previously endured a 4-0 falter at the hands of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to kick of their 2014 slate last Thursday.

The parent Boston Red Sox optioned pitcher Brandon Workman to Pawtucket Wednesday morning. The transaction comes on the heels of Craig Breslow completing his minor-league rehab regimen. Workman split last season between Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 3-1 record in six career starts for the PawSox.

Brown, who played 357 games for the Chiefs over the previous three seasons, made two appearances in his first series against his old allies. He finished the series 2-for-7 with a double, a walk and a run scored, but also struck out five times, including thrice Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Post-game Pop-ups: PawSox 7, Chiefs 1

Swift Summation
Two sugar rushes at the dish and two stingy performances on the mound bolstered the Pawtucket Red Sox to a Tuesday night of two-way dominance. The finished product was a 7-1 slashing of the Syracuse Chiefs at McCoy Stadium.

The PawSox cultivated three runs apiece in the first and fifth innings, along with one in the fourth, while stifling Syracuse until the game was out of reach in the ninth.

Each of Syracuse starter Omar Poveda’s first three challengers made the round trip across the diamond to spot the Sox a 3-0 lead.

After witnessing back-to-back walks, Justin Henry dropped the first pitch on the right-center lawn, sending Brock Holt home and moving Alex Hassan to third on a double. Bryce Brentz cleared the bags and tripled the lead by extending his own double to third base on an error.

Dan Butler doubled to lead off the fourth and proceeded to augment the lead to 4-0 with the help of back-to-back sacrifices by Heiker Meneses and Peter Hissey.

One inning later, the PawSox chased Poveda with three consecutive extra-base slugs. Hassan’s second two-bagger of the night preceded back-to-back home runs via Henry and Ryan Lavarnway for a 7-0 lead.

The Chiefs bullpen combined to retire 12 straight challengers afterward. The visiting bat rack returned the favor by thawing out in the top of the ninth, loading the bases with no outs.

A subsequent one-out walk to Emmanuel Burriss forced Jose Lazano in from third to spoil the shutout. But Henry, Meneses and Lavarnway pulled off a textbook 4-6-3 double play to drop the curtain. 

PawSox Pluses
Plenty of patience parlayed Pawtucket to its tone-setting scoring spurt. Holt watched five Poveda pitches go by for a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first. Hassan followed by hacking at only one of six pitches to draw his own base-on-balls.

By the time Henry had his one-and-done turn, the Sox have swung at only two of Poveda’s first 12 tosses, the second swing amounting to the first run. And for the better part of the night, the besieged Chiefs hurler was tallying more balls than strikes, though he finished with 40 strikes on 73 total throws.

Poveda’s pitching counterpart, Allen Webster, redressed his opening-night debacle with six shutout innings. The Sox starter surrendered merely three hits and let only two Chiefs reach scoring position.

Save for a hit and a pair of walks, one in each stanza of work, reliever Tommy Layne was just as sharp in the seventh and eighth. Apart from a Steve Souza single, he kept Syracuse from launching the ball beyond the infield through a grounder, a liner and four “Ks."

Henry stood out among the slugging committee as the lone player on either side with multiple hits. He factored into four of the runs by driving in three, including himself on his homer, and scoring a pair.

With his dinger, Lavarnway splashed a season-long skid of 16 at bats without a hit.

Sox Stains
Christian Vazquez stood out among his teammates for his unproductive night at the dish. The catcher went 0-for-4 with nary a sacrifice. His one-out, first-inning grounder left Brentz hanging on third to minimize Pawtucket’s early damage.

Drake Britton stood out among his pitching colleagues for fumbling the facility of the finish. He started his lone stanza, namely the ninth, by surrendering a double to Lozada and a single to Jhonatan Solano before two walks put the Chiefs on board.

Chiefs Notes
Warner Madrigal, Josh Roenicke and Christian Garcia combined to authorize zero baserunners and benched four PawSox batters on strikes in four innings of relief.

Four Chiefs—Eury Perez, Souza, Solano and Burriss—reached base twice with a hit and a walk apiece.

The back-to-back homers from Henry and Lavarnway were the first two Syracuse has allowed in five games this season.

At the six-game mark, Brentz is the lone remaining Pawtucket player to have seen action every day this season.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Post-game Pop-ups: PawSox 3, Chiefs 2

Swift Summation
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.

PawSox Pluses
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.

Sox Stains
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. 

Chiefs Notes
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.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Starting 9: Nine Facts To Take Into The PawSox-Chiefs Series

Two International League North Division rivals will try to hop on or above the .500 fence when the Pawtucket Red Sox host the Syracuse Chiefs in a three-game set this week. Pawtucket is coming off a four-game split with Lehigh Valley while the Chiefs dropped two of three to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. (Inclement weather forced the postponement of the fourth game.)

After two full off days, the Chiefs and RailRiders exchanged shutouts in a Sunday doubleheader, making up at least one of their postponements. Syracuse claimed the early tilt by a 3-0 final before dropping a 5-0 decision.

With Monday night’s series opener, a former Red Sox minor-league manager will see meaningful action at McCoy Stadium for the first time in his career. First-year Syracuse skipper Billy Gardner never donned PawSox garb, but did work under Boston auspices with Lowell, Michigan, Augusta, Trenton and Sarasota from 1996 to 2002.

Gardner was the inaugural manager of the Lowell Spinners in 1996 and led the Augusta Greenjackets to the South Atlantic League title in 1999. He won the 2007 Southern League crown with the Montgomery Biscuits.

Former PawSox pitcher Manny Delcarmen, now in Washington’s system, made his Syracuse debut with one inning of relief against the RailRiders this past Thursday. The Chiefs are Delcarmen’s fifth Triple-A employer since he left the Red Sox late in the 2010 campaign.

Baseball Prospectus ranks Syracuse centerfielder Brian Goodwin third among Nationals prospects. Baseball America has Goodwin in the same echelon plus fellow Chiefs outfielder Steve Souza at No. 10.

Both players are seeing their first doses of International League action this month and off to unflattering starts. Goodwin struck out six times over nine at-bats in the Scranton series while Souza boasts a Blutarsky batting average, though he has walked in three of his first 10 plate appearances, translating two of those into runs.

Another Triple-A newbie, Blake Treinen, is expected to toe the rubber for the Chiefs in Monday night’s series opener. Counterpart Chris Hernandez is on tap to make his 24th start and 33rd career appearances with the PawSox.
The Sox edged the Chiefs in last year’s season series, 9-7, claiming three out of four games in each of Syracuse’s two visits to McCoy.

Post-game Pop-ups: IronPigs 5, PawSox 4

Swift Summation
The Pawtucket Red Sox were one-inning wonders in the final installment of their 2014 season-opening series Sunday afternoon. After cracking open a 3-0 advantage, they let the Lehigh Valley IronPigs retort with five unanswered runs en route to a 5-4 final at McCoy Stadium.

Garin Cecchini opened the scoring in the second when his one-out single to center drove Brandon Snyder home from second base. Cecchini moved along with the help of a wild pitch, a Christian Vazquez base hit and a Corey Brown sac fly to spawn a 2-0 advantage.

After Pigs pitcher Jonathan Pettibone’s second fugitive toss of the inning put Vazquez in scoring position, Heiker Meneses pounced to knock in the third PawSox run.

Lehigh Valley wasted little time filling the pothole on its next turn. With runners at the corners and no outs, Clete Thomas doubled to wave his mates home and whittle the deficit down to 3-2. He moved to third on a wild pitch and crossed the plate himself for the equalizer on a sacrifice grounder by Maikel Franco.

Two-and-a-half uneventful stanzas followed before the Pigs picked on Pawtucket’s first reliever, Tommy Layne. With one out in the sixth, Layne authorized a triple to Reid Brignac and then watched Cameron Rupp belt a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall.

The resultant 5-3 difference stood until the PawSox’ half of the eighth. Alex Hassan led off with a double to the centerfield warning track and found his way home on back-to-back sacrifice grounders via Ryan Lavarnway and Bryce Brentz.

Apart from a pair of walks, IronPig relievers Kyle Simon and Luis Garcia stifled the Sox thereafter, ensuring a split for the weekend.

PawSox Pluses
Meneses was a nominal No. 9 hitter Sunday, moving Vazquez along the diamond on a pair of hits. In addition to the aforementioned third-inning RBI, he moved his teammate to third base on a two-out single in the seventh. He later waited out four consecutive balls to represent the tying run when his team was down to its final out in the ninth.

Dalier Hinojosa kept the hosts within striking range with two efficient innings of relief. Save for an eighth-inning walk to Rupp, he retired every IronPig he faced, benching the last two on strikes for a 1-2-3 ninth.

Sox Stains
Minus the second inning, the Pawtucket bat rack could not solve Pettibone. The Sox snuffed out 1-2-3 in the first, third and fifth. The fourth saw Pettibone yield his only other baserunner with a walk to Cecchini, whose journey ended when Vazquez bounced into a double play.

Cecchini brooked a bigger blunder on the other side of the ball. The third baseman’s fielding error gave Leandro Castro a free pass to lead off what would be the critical top half of the third.

Mike McCoy batted 0-for-5 and terminated three of Pawtucket’s most important frames. His popout to Rupp at the plate stranded Meneses in scoring position with the third out of the second. Later, with Meneses and Vazquez at the corners and a one-run deficit at hand, he flied out to left to squash the seventh.

Symbolically enough, after Meneses drew his temporarily game-saving walk, Garcia caught McCoy looking at three unanswered strikes to cement the 5-4 upshot.

IronPigs Notes
None of Lehigh Valley’s batters mustered more than one run or one hit on the day. As it happened, No. 3 man Maikel Franco and cleanup man Jim Murphy were the only two who could not grab either, though Murphy did reach base on a third-inning walk.

Pettibone picked up credit for the victory while Hector Neris, Jeremy Horst and Simon each earned a hold with one inning of relief apiece. Garcia garnered his first save of the season.

PawSox starter Jeremy Kehrt percolated mixed results in his 2014 season debut. His stat line for the day yielded five full innings, three hits, three runs (two earned), two walks and four “Ks.” Layne took the loss in his second relief appearance.

With his RBI single, Cecchini assured his status as the only Pawtucket player to muster a hit in all four games of the series.

Outfielder Peter Hissey made his Triple-A debut when he pinch-ran for Brandon Snyder in the home half of the eighth. He would constitute the final out of the inning on a force play at second. Hissey subsequently supplanted Snyder in left field for the defensive portion of the ninth.