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After finishing their opening six-game homestand at .500, the Pawtucket Red Sox hit the road with a vengeance this week on their first 2012 tour of upstate New York. There was some great pitching, some terrible pitching, some blowouts, some close games, and even a little free baseball. In addition, the Sox hosted their first rehab assignment of the year, with former first-round pick Andrew Miller making three appearances.
After leaving McCoy at 6:00 AM en route to Frontier Field, the Sox bats just couldn’t wake up. Or maybe Red Wings hurler Scott Diamond is just that good. Either way, Diamond posted six shutout innings, and a two hit day for former Red Sox Aaron Bates was enough to elevate the Red Wings into first place in the IL North and drop Pawtucket to their first losing record of the season.
A full night’s rest turned out to be the answer for a sleepy Sox offense. After chasing Red Wings starter Daryl Thompson after only four innings, Pawtucket lit up Rochester’s bullpen for a seven-run seventh inning. Che-Hsuan Lin homered, and Jose Iglesias collected three hits to raise his batting average to .217. Andrew Miller made his first appearance, and went 1.2 innings and struck out two, recording his first hold in the process.
Aaron Cook struggled to get through five innings, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk. In the top of the sixth, Will Middlebrooks hit a three-run homer off of Carlos Gutierrez to give Pawtucket the lead. Two shutout innings each from Junichi Tazawa and Clayton Mortensen sealed the win to bring the Sox back over .500.
A fielding error by Mauro Gomez allowed two unearned runs to score in the second inning, but another three-run bomb from Will Middlebrooks gave Pawtucket a 6-2 lead in the fifth. Bobby Scales hit a two-run homer off of Chorye Spoone to cut the Pawtucket lead to three, but Garrett Mock tossed two shutout innings to earn his second save of the season.
Pawtucket once again lit up Matt Harvey, this time for six runs over 3.2 innings. Mauro Gomez hit a two-run double in the sixth to give Pawtucket a seemingly insurmountable 9-3 lead, but Andrew Miller had other plans. After walking the first three batters he faced, and allowing a single, Miller struck out Josh Satin before being pulled in favor of Tony Pena, Jr. Pena struck out Matt Tuiasosopo, but then gave up a grand slam to Adam Loewen to cut the Sox lead to one. Arnie Beyeler left Pena in the game long enough to give up the tying run in the eighth to send the game into extra innings. Loewen led off the 10th with a walk, but a poor bunt attempt by Rob Johnson allowed Clayton Mortensen to throw out the lead runner at second. On the first pitch of the next at bat, Johnson broke for second on what appeared to be a pitchout. Ryan Lavarnway popped up to make the throw, but had to hold the ball as neither Jose Iglesias nor Tony Thomas covered second base. On the very next pitch, Jordany Valdespin singled Johnson home to end the game.
Ross Ohlendorf made another great start – good enough to earn him IL Pitcher of the Week honors. He went six innings deep, giving up two earned runs on five hits while striking out three. Another run scored on a throwing error by Lars Anderson. Tony Thomas’ first two and Ryan Lavarnway’s first long balls of the year provided the offense as Junichi Tazawa sealed the win with a scoreless ninth.
Justin Germano allowed only three hits through seven innings while striking out five, but was matched inning for inning by Yunesky Maya, who allowed four hits over 7.1 innings. Ryan Lavarnway finally broke through in the ninth with a solo shot, and Brandon Duckworth threw two scoreless innings to improve his record to 2-0.