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  • Mike Rose

'Plates' pitching serves up feast for IronPigs

By: Mike Rose

Roddery Muñoz continued a string of recent pitching struggles for the Red Wings. (Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Joe Territo)

ROCHESTER, N.Y.– As they do every Thursday night at home the Rochester Red Wings became the Rochester Plates. However, the only thing being served on the night was home runs to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs who slugged six on their way to a 17-6 win.

The struggles for the Rochester pitching staff as of late have been noticeable as they've allowed 31 runs on 40 hits in the last two nights. Red Wings Manager Matthew LeCroy believes his pitching staff is learning some lessons the hard way in this recent slump.

"I think we have to just keep competing and try to make better pitches. This a good team, a very offense-oriented team and you just can't miss. We missed way too much and they made us pay. This is a good test for some of these young kids but you gotta start making adjustments or it's going to get worse and worse. When you're not pitching well you have to pitch your way out of it. They're learning some hard lessons but that's why they're here and hopefully, we can get a little bit better effort from the guys on the bump," LeCroy said.

Carter Kieboom hit his fourth home run of the season in the loss and his first since returning from the injured list. (Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Joe Territo)

Roddery Muñoz got the start and allowed five runs on seven hits with two walks in just three innings. Malvin Pena, who was called up from Double-A Harrisburg earlier in the day, followed and allowed five runs on four hits with three walks. Daniel Mengden posted an inning of work walking three and allowing a run. Joel Peguero allowed two runs on four hits in his one inning of work before right fielder Paul Witt was called upon to finish off the final two frames on the mound. It was Witt's fourth career pitching appearance and third this season after pitching 1.1 scoreless innings for Singe-A Fredricksburg.

On the night Lehigh Valley posted a run in all nine innings and multiple runs in six frames. Kody Clemens and Darick Hall led the charge offensively for the IronPigs. Clemens went 4-for-6 on the night with a double, three home runs, four runs, and five RBI. Not to be outdone Hall recorded a 5-for-6 night with a double, two home runs, three runs, and five RBI. Overall every Lehigh Valley hitter recorded a hit in the outburst.

LeCroy says his team will need to have a short memory heading into tomorrow's contest.

"We have enough veteran guys in this locker room to know this is part of it. Every now and then you have a night where you get your fanny whooped and tonight was one of those nights and as soon as you leave here you have to let it go and figure out how you can help the team out tomorrow. In my experience, I've been in games like this before, you have to flush it as soon as you walk out and come back to work tomorrow and compete," LeCroy said.

On the positive side for Rochester, Travis Blakenhorn was able to surpass a milestone in Thursday's contest when he slugged his 100th career MiLB home run in the fifth. The home run brings Blakenhorn up to a team-leading 19 home runs and 67 RBI on the season. Blakenhorn's campaign has positioned him in the conversation to be a potential September call-up to the Washington Nationals (50-65) who currently sit in second to last place in the National League standings. He says however that thought hasn't crossed his mind.

Travis Blakenhorn hit his 100th career MiLB home run in the loss Thursday. (Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Joe Territo)

"Just trying to control what I can control. Just go out there every day and do the best I can and help the team win," Blakenhorn said.

Rochester (18-18, 52-57) will for a bounce-back effort in game four of the series Friday night. They'll turn to veteran Wily Peralta (3-6, 5.94) on the mound. With a taxed bullpen behind him, the Red Wings will need a strong performance from the last pitcher remaining from the opening-day rotation.

Rochester should have some reinforcements on the way for the bullpen in the form of Amos Willingham who is expected to return to the team after a brief stint with the Washington Nationals.

Lehigh Valley (22-13, 58-50) will send Nick Nelson (4-2. 4.39) to the mound in game four of the series as they look to continue to maintain positioning atop the International League standings in the second half. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. at Innovative Field.

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