Late surge leads Red Wings over Bisons
By: Mike Rose
ROCHESTER, N.Y.– The Rochester Red Wings gave the 10,507 fans at Innovative Field something to cheer about besides the post-game fireworks Tuesday, picking up a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Bisons. The offensive firepower was late arriving for Rochester, but the pitching staff, led by Jackson Rutledge, kept the Red Wings afloat. Rutledge, the No. 11 prospect in the Nationals organization according to MLB.com, fired 5.1 shutout innings allowing three hits with three walks and one strikeout in the victory.
"The big adjustment today was to go an inning at a time and put up zeroes. That's kind of the goal that I had to just establish some scoreless innings here at this level and then kind of worry about the other stuff. The strike percentage needs to get up so continue to work on that and just continue to put up zeroes," Rutledge said.
Rutledge was coming off his Triple-A debut in Lehigh Valley where he allowed five earned runs across 3.2 innings on six walks and two hits with three strikeouts. Rutledge had posted a 3.16 ERA with 62 strikeouts across 68.1 innings for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators prior to his promotion.
Starting pitching was the story of the day from the onset for both teams. Casey Lawrence and Rutledge traded blows as they both breezed through five innings shutout innings a piece. While Tyler Danish maintained the shutout for the Red Wings in relief in the sixth, Zach Pop did not do the same for Buffalo.
Jeter Downs got things started, working a walk before swiping second to put him in scoring position. Travis Blankenhorn brought him in with an RBI single and the floodgates opened just a bit. Franmil Reyes followed with a double before Matt Adams reached on an error from Bisons' 3B Davis Schnieder. Blankenhorn came into score on the play and the lead was extended to two. Jake Noll brought in the final run of the inning with an RBI single that chased Pop before he could record a single out.
Jay Jackson quickly retired the next three batters but the damage had been done as Rochester had built a three-run edge. The sixth inning had been a house of horrors for the Red Wings this season as they entered play tonight being outscored 65-22 in the sixth before breaking through tonight.
The Bisons responded quickly in the seventh cutting the deficit right back to one. Tanner Morris began a two-out rally with a double before scoring on an RBI single from Cameron Eden. Nathan Lukes followed up with an RBI single of his own to bring the Bisons right back within striking distance.
The score held there until Jake Noll crushed a solo home run into the firework-filled sky in left field to add a critical insurance run. Noll, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI single and the home run, joked post-game he was seeing beach balls at the plate Tuesday.
"I made a few adjustments last week in Lehigh Valley and I feel good at the plate. I just gotta make sure I'm swinging at strikes and I'll be alright," Noll said.
Andres Machado and Gerson Moreno closed the door out of the Red Wings' bullpen to seal the victory. The Red Wings bullpen has seen a number of contributors called up to the big league level recently and Manager Matthew LeCroy has been forced to try and shuffle the deck in the late innings.
"We took a chance and used our guys that we rely on in big spots tonight to win and we did. Now tomorrow some other guys are going to have to step up and pitch in those spots," LeCroy said.
The Red Wings (38-42) with the win move to 4-3 in the second half while the Bisons (37-44) fall to 3-3 in the second half. The two teams will continue their series tomorrow, July 5, with Zach Thompson (4-5, 5.48) projected to get the start for the Bisons and Jose Ureña (0-2, 7.17) slated to get the ball for the Red Wings. The first pitch at Innovative Field is slated for 6:45 pm.