Toledo, Ohio - The Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders' (Triple-A/New York Yankees) most lopsided loss of the season, a 10-2 final in Tuesday's series opener at Toledo, was certainly deflating. But that was nothing compared to what happened on Wednesday morning in a 12-11 see-saw loss to the host Mud Hens (Detroit Tigers). The RailRiders (20-18) have dropped four in a row and six of eight, while the Mud Hens (13-28) own their first three-game winning streak of the season.
The first six hitters reached base for the RailRiders against a man with 44 career big league starts in Shawn Hill. After Corban Joseph walked on a full-count pitch, five straight hits followed including run-scoring blows by Zoilo Almonte, Ronnier Mustelier, Dan Johnson and Melky Mesa. Bobby Wilson's RBI single rounded out the scoring for a 5-0 margin before the Mud Hens had even picked up a bat.
Alas, then came the second as the Mud Hens blitzed former Toledo All-Star and current SWB ace Chris Bootcheck for seven runs and a brief lead. Two-run homers by Brandon Douglas, his second both on the season and series, and top Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos, highlighted the inning.
Back and forth the teams traded decisive frames until Danny Dorn delivered the game-changing blow. Tied at 11 in the eighth, the DH bombed a just-fair home run to right off Jim Miller (0-3), his eighth of the season, and the Mud Hens rode the hard-throwing arm of closer Bruce Rondon to a 12-11 triumph. Rondon lived in the mid to high-90s en route to his seventh save in eight tries. The lone man he put on base in the ninth, Thomas Neal, reached when he was hit by a pitch.
That made a winner out of reliever Jess Todd (1-2), who tossed two scoreless and hitless bridge innings.
Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (2-2, 2.84) gets the nod for the RailRiders in Thursday's contest against righty Derek Hankins (0-2, 3.32). First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with pregame coverage starting at 6 p.m. on NEPA Sports Radio - The GAME, Northeast PA's largest sports radio network: 100.7 FM, 1340 WYCK-AM, 1400 WICK-AM, 1440 WCDL-AM and 106.7 FM. The Voice of the RailRiders, John Sadak, will be on the call.
OFF THE RAILS:
David Adams, the team's usual two-hole hitter, turned 26 on Wednesday. He did not play. After the game, the New York Yankees announced they had signed Adams to a Major League contract and selected him to the team's 25-man roster from SWB.
When he appears for the Yankees, Adams will join Preston Claiborne, Corban Joseph, Vidal Nuno and Austin Romine as non-rehabbers that advanced from SWB to the Bronx this season. Technically, Alberto Gonzalez was on the RailRiders' roster before he received his promotion to the Yankees, but he never played for SWB this season. Adams, Claiborne, Joseph and Nuno had no big league time before 2013. Brett Marshall has been on the Yankees' active roster since Monday, but has yet to pitch in The Show. He had not been above the Double-A level before this season.
Thomas Neal batted second instead and reached base five times in six plate appearances. He finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk, a bruise and two runs scored. His season-long batting average now stands at .329. It marks his first three-hit game of the campaign.
Zoilo Almonte returned to his usual third slot in the order after a single-day aberration in the sixth position. He posted a pair of hits including his team-best 10th double. His three RBIs in the loss lifted his team-leading total to 23 on the year.
Danny Dorn has seven RBIs in two games on the series. He leads the Mud Hens in homers (8) and RBIs (26).
The RailRiders struck out 16 times in 41 team at-bats. Both Melky Mesa and Luke Murton wore golden sombreros with four apiece. Mesa became the third man in the minors to reach 60 whiffs on the season. Murton was down 0-2 in the count during his fifth plate appearance, but worked a walk against Jess Todd to avoid the platinum sombrero.
Dan Johnson homered in the loss, his fourth, and lifted his average over the Mendoza line for the first time since he was 1-for-4 on Opening Night. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, his league-leading 30th walk and two runs scored. He became the 10th man in minor league baseball to reach 30 free passes on the season.
Toledo entered the series at a league-worst 11-28 (.282) overall, while the RailRiders boasted the best road record in minor league baseball at 12-2 (.857).
For the second straight day, the RailRiders allowed a season-high run total. The Mud Hens entered the series hitting a league-worst .220 while averaging 3.26 runs/game. They have plated 22 runs through two games on the series while hitting .389 (28-for-72) including 10 extra-base hits.
The five-run lead lost makes for the biggest bulge blown by the RailRiders on the season. The game also included a season-worst 16 hits allowed.
Chris Bootcheck had allowed five runs in 36 innings on the season before he was charged with eight over his three-plus innings. The league's ERA leader saw his 1.25 mark rise to 3.00 as a consequence.
At 3:37, Wednesday morning was the longest nine-inning game for the RailRiders since a 13-8 win at Gwinnett on July 21, 2012. That game took 3:38.
The paid crowd of 9,054 for the school-kid special marks the largest crowd to see the RailRiders play all season. It just surpassed the previous high of 8,875 that attended the RailRiders' May 8 home game against Indianapolis at PNC Field.
- SWB RailRiders - All Aboard! -