A peculiar occurrence of a kite falling on the shallow outfield behind second base of McCoy Stadium, during the early stages of the first game of the final homestand of the series, symbolized the night for the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Their odds of clinching the IL Wild Card on this day were steadily elevating during the progression of the game, as the club possessed a 2-1 lead for four innings after a two-run home run by third baseman Danny Valencia in the first — and the LeHigh Valley IronPigs, who are chasing the PawSox in the wild card standings, were trailing the Syracuse Chiefs by a score of 5-1.
But once Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees’ center fielder Melky Mesa belted his second home run of the night in the seventh-inning to give his club a then 3-2 lead, the PawSox’ odds slowly dropped to the ground, despite several attempts to stay afloat, and to its conclusion: a 4-3 loss to the IL North Champions.
PawSox starter LHP Chris Hernandez was tagged with the loss, his fourth of the season, after 6.0 innings (plus three batters) of three-run baseball, replete with two walks and one strikeout.
His counterpart, 39-year-old RHP Ramon Ortiz, one-upped the 23-year-old Florida native by pitching 7.0 innings of akin surrendered runs, including six strikeouts.
Brock Huntzinger made his Triple-A debut as the second man out of the PawSox’ bullpen, following Pedro Beato’s poor performance of one inning pitched while surrendering one run (on a wild pitch) and walking two.
Huntzinger, who was called up on August 29, struck out four — three on his fastball — in his two innings of work while only yielding two hits.
The 24-year-old wasn’t the only positive of the night.
Jeremy Hazelbaker went 3-for-4 with three singles and two stolen bases; he entered tonight’s affair batting .176 in his first 17 at-bats of his Triple-A career.
In combination with a Hazelbaker steal of second and a throwing error by Yankees’ catcher Austin Romine, the relatively comatose offense of the PawSox, and the 7,001 fans in attendance, were rejevuented with energy to the point where a comeback from a 4-3 defefict seemed possible.
But the attempts to keep the energy afloat was struck down once second baseman Ivan DeJesus grounded to third base which allowed Yankees’ Kevin Russo the ability to tag out Hazelbaker, who was running on contact in order to tie the game.
It marked the second time Hazelbaker was tagged out attempting to score, as the Indiana native was gunned down at the plate by left fielder Ronnier Mustelier on a single by Tony Thomas — which occured prior to Valencia’s two-run home run.
Despite the tough loss, the PawSox’ magic number was dwindled to one after the IronPigs suffered a 5-2 loss to the Chiefs.
RHP Nelson Figueroa (11-5, 4.18) will take the mound for the playoff-hopeful PawSox tomorrow against Yankees’ LHP Justin Thomas (2-1, 3.45) at 6:05 p.m.