For the first time since their first round series triumph over the Ottawa Lynx in the 2003 playoffs, the Pawtucket Red Sox can claim they’ve won more than one playoff game as the current club squeezed out a 3-2 victory — in the similar come-from-behind fashion as game one — over the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees to take a 2-0 lead in the best of five series.
Offense was hard to find for both sides during the course of the game, but miscues in the Yankees’ defense in the seventh inning allowed the PawSox to recovery from a early 2-0 deficit.
Nate Spears lead off the seventh with a double on a fortunate bloop that landed among a trio of Yankees including shortstop Ramiro Pena, third baseman Kevin Russo and left fielder Ronnier Mustelier, and would eventually score on a single by Bryce Brentz, which was perfectly placed over the head of second baseman Corban Joseph.
In the subsequent at-bat, Jon Hee’s grounder to the right side of the field dribbled past Joseph and into the glove of right fielder Cole Garner, who then rocketed a throw to third which was mishandled by Russo allowing Brentz to score on the throwing error.
“They helped us with a couple errors, and we fortunately took advantage of them,” manager Arnie Beyeler, whose club is one win away from becoming the first PawSox team to sweep a playoff series, said after the game. “Offensively, we haven’t been a powerhouse lately. When we get opportunities, we have to push them across.”
Brentz, who is 5-for-12 with a home run, double and four RBI since Monday after starting 0-for-12 since his first Triple-A call-up on August 31, was also apart of another Yankee error that led to a run, when the 23-year-old drove in catcher Dan Butler who was previously on after a two-base throwing error by Russo.
“It’s been good,” said Brentz on his recent streak. “I’m getting a little more comfortable as the at-bats keep coming.”
“When I first got here, I was trying to press too much and do too much. Now things are starting to fall and hopefully the good at-bats keep coming.”
Because of their recent lack of offense the PawSox have constantly had a need for quality outings from their starter, with the occasional combination of a dominating crew out of the bullpen.
Their needs were granted by both parties tonight.
Chris Hernandez set the tone, despite a rough second inning, for the pitchers with his six-inning, two-run, five strikeout performance.
“I felt real good,” said Hernandez. “I had that rough second inning — I was leaving balls up and they were capitalizing on it — and I was able to regain myself in the next inning and stay down in the zone and it worked well for my the rest of the game.”
An adjustment Hernandez made during the game was his usage of his curveball, which is not recognized as one of his go-to pitches being that he mainly utilizes fastballs.
In his last start, which coincidentally was against the Yankees and tonight’s starter Ramon Ortiz, the Florida native pitched the curve ball a total of three times; today he used it six times, with one being the final pitch of his fourth strikeout.
“Not going into it,” responded Hernandez when asked if his increased curveball usage was part of the game plan prior to tonight’s affair. “It worked well tonight, and we’re here to win so we (him and Dan Butler) didn’t shy away from it.
“It felt good and I felt good throwing it, so we kept going with it.”
Hernandez has now pitched five straight quality starts since his no decision against the Buffalo Bisons. on August 13
Scott Atchison, who’s on rehab after a elbow injury, earned the victory after pitching one and a third innings, allowing just one hit following Hernandez.
Will Inman and Jose De La Torre then pitched the final five outs, with De La Torre earning his second save since the July 24 trade.
Billy Bucker (8-6, 3.91) will face Michael O’Conner (3-6, 3.73) in Rochester, the season-long contingent home of the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees, in game three of the series at 7:05 p.m.