The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, dropped a bizarre 8-6 Friday night game to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. On Friday the 13th, the teams combined for 14 runs, 20 hits, five errors and a number of strange plays. In a game where Lehigh Valley led throughout, the Chiefs clawed back a number of times, only to ultimately fall short in the final game of the series.
Lehigh Valley (7-2) scored five runs in the first three innings off of Chiefs starter John Lannan thanks to a few fortuitous bounces and some Syracuse errors. In the second inning, Hector Luna singled to left field and Cody Overbeck bounced a ground ball under the glove of third baseman Carlos Rivero for a one-out hit. Lou Montanez then walked to bring up Tuffy Gosewisch. The IronPigs' catcher hit a slow grounder to third base, where Rivero looked to get the force at home plate - but he bobbled the ball and could only get an out at first, allowing Luna to score the IronPigs' first run. Starting pitcher Tom Cochran then slapped Lannan's pitch into left field, where Corey Brown dropped the ball for an error. Two runs scored on the play, giving Lehigh Valley a 3-0 lead.
In the third, the IronPigs staged another strange rally. Kevin Frandsen led off the inning with an infield single to second base that Jarrett Hoffpauir gloved but couldn't control, and Dominic Brown hit a cue shot ground ball that hugged the third base line for a double, putting two runners on. Lannan nearly worked around the trouble, striking out Luna and popping up Derrick Mitchell. But on a 1-2 pitch, Overbeck hit a ground ball to shortstop that hit off the heel of Seth Bynum's glove. The ball bounced into left field, scoring both Frandsen and Brown to put Lehigh Valley ahead 5-0.
True to form, Syracuse (2-6) staged a comeback. The Chiefs' first run came in the fourth, when Jason Michaels singled with one out and Bryce Harper singled with two outs. Jhonatan Solano then hit a ground ball off of Luna at third, with Michaels scoring on the first IronPigs error.
In the fifth inning, the Chiefs scored three times to come within one run. With two outs and nobody on, Corey Brown walked, Bynum singled, and Michaels singled in Brown for the game's second run. First baseman Tyler Moore then smashed a two-run double to deep left field and advanced to third base on an error, making the score 5-4. But Cochran induced a fly out from Harper to keep Lehigh Valley in the lead.
The IronPigs would extend that lead in the bottom of the frame. Luna singled and Mitchell walked against Lannan to bring up Overbeck. The slugging first baseman launched a 2-1 pitch from Lannan into the right field seats, giving Lehigh Valley an insurmountable 8-4 lead. Lannan was finished after four-plus innings, allowing nine hits and eight runs (four earned).
In the top of the sixth, Syracuse staged a final comeback attempt. Solano walked to lead off the inning, and with one out, Hoffpauir hit a bouncing ball to second base for what looked like a likely double play. But Frandsen booted the ball, putting runners on first and second for the Chiefs. Left-hander David Purcey then relieved Cochran for the IronPigs. The southpaw was greeted rudely by pinch-hitter Mark Teahen, who slammed a 1-1 delivery into right-center field for a triple, plating two runs.
Purcey then struck out Brown for the inning's second out, but Bynum and Michaels walked to load the bases. With Tyler Moore at bat and the bases loaded, Purcey induced a fly out to shallow right field, ending the Chiefs' threat.
Syracuse would put just two more runners on base in the final three innings with singles by Solano and Hoffpauir. Purcey and right-hander Michael Schwimer slammed the door shut, giving the IronPigs the series sweep.
The Chiefs return home on Saturday afternoon to play the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in the first of a two-game set. The games are technically road games for Syracuse, since Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has no home stadium this season. Syracuse will throw left-hander Zach Duke against Yankees right-hander Adam Warren.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.