Rochester Red Wings Split DH with Syracuse
After two straight days of rain postponing games, the Rochester Red Wings finally took to the field Saturday afternoon, splitting a double-header with the Syracuse Chiefs. The two International League teams were rained out Thursday in Syracuse, and again yesterday in Rochester, but finally the sun shone down on the two as they were able to take to the field.
In Game 1 of the double-header, Rochester was in control for much of the game, leading 4-1 heading into the sixth inning, before Syracuse mounted a rally to win 5-4. Scott McGregor started Game 1 for Syracuse, and was hit fairly hard, but spotted his fastball well to keep the game close enough for his team to battle back.
Mark Hamburger was the starter for Rochester, and he has been struggling of late. Entering the game he had given up 19 hits and 9 runs in 8.2 innings pitched over his last two starts, and the club was really looking for a big outing out of the righty.
The Red Wings got on the board first. In the bottom of the second inning Reynaldo Rodriguez singled with one out and moved to third on a Danny Ortiz single to right field. Jose Martinez then delivered the third hit in a row, scoring Rodriguez and staking Rochester to the early lead.
The Chiefs would respond right away. In the top half of the third Michael Taylor led off with a single. One out later Ian Stewart walked. After a force out put runners at the corners with two outs, Hamburger got a little wild with his control, walking Kila Ka’aihue and Jason Martinson to drive in a run and tie the score.
The game remained tied at one until the bottom of the fourth when the Red Wings threatened to blow this game wide open. Brock Peterson singled to begin the inning, and one out later Ortiz crushed his second home run of the year to make it 3-1. The Red Wings then got back-to-back-to-back hits from Martinez, James Beresford and Doug Bernier to load the bases. Aaron Hicks then delivered a sacrifice fly that scored Martinez, and the lead was three.
Hamburger had cruised through the fourth and fifth, but in the sixth he got in some trouble. Ka’aihue singled, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Den Dekker then reached base on a ball that fell in no man’s land, putting runners at first and third with one out.
A.J. Achter took over the hill for Hamburger and promptly walked Cutter Dykstra to load the bases. That brought Ryan O’Rourke into the game. He struck out Steven Lerud, and that ended the day for O’Rourke.
Michael Tonkin took over looking to close out the game, but he was unable to do so. Taylor lined a single to leftfield that scored Ka’aihue and den Dekker, pulling the Chiefs within one. Tony Gwynn Jr. then ripped a single into center that scored Dykstra to tie the game. Gwynn was thrown out trying to reach second, but Taylor made it safely into third. Stewart then hit a comebacker that Tonkin could not make a play on and the Chiefs had their first lead of the game. Tonkin finally recorded the last out but the damage was done.
Rich Hill relieved for Syracuse in the sixth, and it looked like the Red Wings were going to come right back. Hill got the first two outs, but then Hicks and Eddie Rosario followed with back-to-back hits to put runners at the corners. The Chiefs turned to Evan Meek to save the day. He walked Josmil Pinto to load the bases, but then got Brock Peterson to hit a comebacker to end the threat.
Meek gave up a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, but retired the final three batters to end the game 5-4. It was Meek’s second save of the season. McGregor (1-1) earned the win, despite giving up 9 hits in 5 innings of work. He struck out 7, which was a key to him keeping his team in the game.
Tonkin (0-1) gave up 3 hits in 1.1 innings pitched, and took the loss. It was also his second blow save of the season.
Rodriguez, Ortiz and Martinez each scored a run and had three hits for the Red Wings. Taylor, Ka’aihue and den Dekker had two hits apiece for Syracuse.
A big key in this game was the ability to deliver with runners in scoring position. Syracuse plated four of the nine batters in that position, while Rochester drove home just two of ten.
The late inning loss could have soured the team’s mood for Game 2, but the Rochester Red Wings proved their resiliency, winning 5-2 behind a quality pitching performance by Lester Oliveros and Logan Darnell.
Bruce Billings started for Syracuse, and was in trouble in virtually every inning he pitched. In the first the Red Wings scored a run when Hicks and Bernier delivered back-to-back singles to begin the game. Rosario hit into a double-play that put Hicks at third with two outs. Needing a clutch hit Rodriguez came through, lining a Billings offering into centerfield to score Hicks and give his team the early 1-0 lead.
In the third Rochester was back on the scoreboard. Argenis Diaz was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and made his way to third after a wild pitch and a ground out. Bernier then singled him home to increase the lead to two.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Red Wings gave themselves a bit of breathing room. Ortiz led off with a double, and Eric Fryer followed with a walk. Nate Hanson then hit a ground ball to the shortstop who failed to make the play cleanly, and Hanson reached on the error. Eric Farris was then hit by a pitch, driving home a run and leaving the bases loaded. That brought Diaz to the plate, and he lined a single to rightfield, scoring one and keeping the bases loaded. That was all for Billings.
Mitch Lively took over for Syracuse, and effectively got his team out of a jam, but not before giving up one more run. Hicks walked to score another run, and it was 5-0.
While the hitters were doing their job, Oliveros was absolutely awesome. He struck out the side to begin the game, and repeated the feat in the third inning as well. He also struck out one batter in the second and two in the fourth to give him nine through the first four innings. The only batter to reach base came on a single by Dan Butler with one out in the third.
Oliveros reached his pitch count after four, so Darnell took over. He did not bring the heat like Oliveros did, but he effectively contained the Chiefs’ bats, allowing two hits in two innings of work to earn his first win of the season.
Ryan Pressly took over in the seventh and yielded two runs, but it was too late for Syracuse to mount a comeback in this one. Rochester won 5-2, with Darnell (1-0) earning his victory of the season. Bilings took the loss to drop to 0-2. Bernier had three of the Rochester Red Wings eight hits on the day. He also drove in a run.
The same two teams will face-off against each other again tomorrow. Taylor Jordan (1-1) gets the start for the Syracuse Chiefs, and Pat Dean (1-0) goes for his second win of the season for the Rochester Red Wings. Game time for the International League clash is 1:35 EST.
By Robert Pannier