Pat Dean Dominates in 6-4 Rochester Red Wings Win
When the Minnesota Twins left spring training and headed north to begin the 2015 Major League baseball season, left-hander Pat Dean found himself headed north as well, but not for Minneapolis. Instead he was headed for Rochester, the Twins AAA-affiliate club. Dean had spent all of last season at AA-New Britain and the Twins organization felt he needed some more seasoning at the AAA level before getting a shot to make the Twins rotation. Let’s just say that if he needed more time to prove he belonged at the Major League level – mission accomplished.
For the third time this season the lefty took the mound for the Rochester Red Wings, and in all three starts he has dominated. Sunday he took on the Syracuse Chiefs, allowing just six hits in eight innings of work with one run scored to improve his record to 2-0 on the young season. The left-hander is quickly establishing that he has what it takes to make it at the next level.
It helped that on this afternoon his team staked him to an early lead, scoring four in the third and two in the fourth, which allowed Dean to concentrate on throwing strikes. That is exactly what he did. Of his 101 pitches, 70 went for strikes and he recorded nine groundball outs in comparison to just four in the air.
The game was scoreless through the first two innings, but in the third the Red Wings got their bats rolling right off. Aaron Hicks walked to lead 0ff the inning, and stole second to put himself in scoring position. One out later Josmil Pinto found the gap in right field for a single bringing Hicks home. After Reynaldo Rodriguez was issued a free pass, Brock Peterson lined a single into leftfield to load the bases. With the infield in, Danny Ortiz hit a grounder to Chiefs first baseman Kila Ka’aihue, who fired home to nail Pinto.
That left the bases loaded but there was now two outs. The Rochester Red Wings needed a clutch hit, and Jose Martinez came through, driving a ball into leftfield to score Rodriguez and Peterson, making the score 3-0. That was it for Syracuse starter Taylor Jordan.
Richard Bleier entered the game and was greeted by James Beresford, who lined a double into the alley in leftfield to score Ortiz. Bleier would then record the final out of the inning, but the damage was done.
The Chiefs got one back in the top of the fourth. Tony Gwynn, Jr. singled to rightfield with one out, and one out later Mark Minicozzi walked to put runners at first and second. Ka’aihue followed with a lined single up the middle scoring Gwynn to make the score 4-1.
In the bottom half of the inning the Red Wings responded themselves. Hicks reached on an error and moved to second one later when Pinto singled to center. Rodriguez then lined a ball into the right-centerfield gap that rolled all the way to the wall. Both Pinto and Hicks came into score, and Rodriguez reached third standing up. He would be stranded there, but the Red Wings were up 6-1, a lead they would not relinquish.
Staked to the five-run lead, Dean continued to cruise. The lefty retired the first 10 batters of the game, striking out two and inducing five groundouts. Following the run that Syracuse scored in the fourth, Dean didn’t allow more than one runner to reach base until the eighth inning. He kept the Chiefs off-balance all game long, and is quickly proving that he deserves a place in the big leagues.
The Chiefs made it a close affair in the ninth. With Dean out of the game, the Chiefs loaded the game with no one out. A double-play grounder scored one run, and Cutter Dykstra homered to left-centerfield to make it a two-run game. However, Michael Tonkin came on and struck out Steven Lerud to end the game, his fifth save of the season.
Pinto and Rodriguez were the leaders of the offense for the Rochester Red Wings. Pinto finished 3-4 with a run and an RBI. Rodriguez was 1-2 with a run, 2 RBI and 2 walks.
Tomorrow the Rochester Red Wings welcome the Columbus Clippers to town. Game time for the International League game is 6:35 EST.
By Robert Pannier