The Pawtucket Red Sox uncorked a restock of carbonation roughly 40 hours in the making Thursday afternoon. The subsequent stream helped them salvage a split of their eight-game homestand and four-game bout with the Toledo Mud Hens in a come-from-behind, 5-3 victory.
The PawSox deluged a drought of 15 consecutive scoreless innings in the bottom of the fifth. Each of their top eight batters factored in to the scoring, flip-flopping a 3-0 deficit to a 5-3 lead.
While that hex was still in progress, the Mud Hens ran their string of unanswered runs to nine. After nabbing the last two runs Tuesday and stamping a 4-0 shutout Wednesday, they reaped three runs off Rubby De La Rosa in the second inning.
After retiring each of his first five challengers, Pawtucket’s starter drove into a ditch. He authorized five consecutive two-out baserunners, three of whom crossed the plate in the top of the second.
James McCann started the outburst by directing the first pitch he faced down the left-field line for a base hit. Next, De La Rosa’s payoff pitch hits the dirt to let Tyler Collins on board.
Ben Guez sent both of his mates home to crack open a 2-0 lead with a single to left. He nabbed a pair of extra bases on the play with De La Rosa’s off-target throw home.
The following five-pitch walk to Marcus Lemon placed men at the corners and Daniel Fields retained that arrangement. He worked a full count and drove the second 3-2 delivery up the inning up the middle to nudge Guez to the dish and Lemon to third.
Toledo counterpart Mike Belfiore incurred his own throwing error in the bottom of the same inning. His botched force attempt let Bryce Brentz on first and put Ryan Lavarnway in scoring position with no outs.
But a fly out and a 5-4-3 double play let the visiting starter get through his slovenly second stanza unscatched.
Three innings later, with Jhan Marinez on in relief of Belfiore, the PawSox finally recompensed. A cumulative nine pitches amounted to two walks, setting the table for Corey Brown to draw a 3-3 deadlock with a home run to right.
Marinez mustered one more out before giving way to Pat McCoy after letting two more men on board at the corners. Daniel Nava greeted McCoy with a go-ahead single up the middle, bumping Brock Holt home for a 4-3 home advantage.
Two plays later, with the bases loaded, Bryce Brentz augmented that lead to 5-3 by grounding into a force-out at second.
To sandwich the offensive turnaround, De La Rosa neutralized his preceding tempest. He allowed no hits in the four innings followings the second and threw a 1-2-3 fifth and sixth. Toledo finally touched him again with Guez’s two-out double in the seventh on his 102nd and final delivery.
But he Hens, who looked hapless on offense heading into this series, regressed to their old form against De La Rosa and the Pawtucket bullpen. They stranded Guez and then brooked two more three-up, three-down innings.
Holt hammered the host club’s only hit off of Belfiore with a two-out single in the third. After the Sox knotted the score in the fifth, he subsequently kept the tide-turning frame alive by tripling to the corner at the right-field warning track. That three-bagger was Holt’s second and the team’s fifth in 2014.
Upon succeeding De La Rosa with two down in the seventh, Rich Hill threw an efficient 1.1 innings of relief. He threw 13 of his 18 offerings for strikes to retire each of his four challengers. Drake Britton was just as solid in a 1-2-3 ninth, needing only 10 pitches to cement the 5-3 final.
De La Rosa’s stat line when trying to attain the third out of the second inning: 28 pitches, 15 balls, 13 strikes, three hits, two walks, three runs, one earned run and a throwing error.
Left fielder Justin Henry was charged with a throwing error himself in that wound-opening segment.
On top of those five shortcomings in the second, two of the last three Toledo baserunners De La Rosa’s watch came with two outs in a given inning. He tossed a seven-pitch walk to Trevor Crowe in the third and exited in the seventh after the aforementioned double by Guez, who had initially fallen behind in the count on consecutive called strikes.
Mud Hens Notes
Belfiore, ordinarily a reliever, made his second start of the season. The left-throwing Boston College alum pitched three full innings before the Hens dipped into their bullpen.
Drew VerHagen was Toledo’s originally scheduled starter, but was supplanted for reasons not readily disclosed.
Guez led the visiting cause on offense, hitting 2-for-3 on the day with an RBI and a run scored.
Mike Hessman batted 0-for-4 with two strikeouts for his only hitless performance of the series.
The PawSox are now 10-9 on the year when allowing the first run of the game and 8-7 in matinees.