For five innings, Pawtucket and Indianapolis were involved in a classic pitcher's duel. The game came down to the very last at-bat. The weather was glorious. What more could you want in a baseball game?
The Indianapolis Indians, the Pittsburgh Pirates Triple-A affiliate, presented Pawtucket pitcher Rubby De La Rosa with a major league caliber challenge. Their lineup featured major league veterans like Chris Dickerson, Robert Andino (remember him?), and Brent Morel. Most importantly, the lineup featured one of the more exciting prospects in minor league baseball-- outfielder Gregory Polanco.
The star for the game for the Indians, however, was their pitcher, Tyler Waldron. Waldron's minor league track record has been nothing to write home about. But for one day, he was Greg Maddux. Making his second start of the season, Waldron sliced through the PawSox lineup like a hot knife through butter. Through five innings, it took Waldron only 61 pitches to shut down the Red Sox. He gave up only two hits, walked none, and struck out six with nothing more than a mid-80s fastball.
Sadly, as Waldron warmed up for the sixth inning, he had to call for the trainer. A blister had developed on his pitching hand, and his dream day came to an end.
PawSox pitcher Rubby De La Rosa had a harder time shutting down the Indians for five innings. In the sixth inning, De La Rosa allowed the first two hitters to reach and, due to his high pitch count, had to exit the game. De La Rosa has positioned himself to be one of the first call-ups if any of the starters in Boston falter. He came into the game with a 2.25 ERA, but struggled with his control in this one.
De La Rosa has battled control problems his entire career, but appeared to have turned a corner, walking only four batters in his first four starts of 2014. Unfortunately, De La Rosa's difficulties have resurfaced as he has now walked eight batters in the last two games, including five on Saturday. He, simply, is not ready to help on the next level until he gets his command issues ironed out.
With De La Rosa out of the game, the Indians raced out to a 4-0 lead over the next two innings. Red Sox left-handed fireballer Drake Britton had his second consecutive disastrous outing after dominating his first eight appearances of the year. Britton was a contributor in Boston's run to the World Championship in 2013. He didn't have it on this day, however. He bounced numerous pitches to the plate. The ones he did get in the strike zone were hit hard. His final line: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K.
Brandon Snyder would hit his fifth home run of the season in the seventh inning. The PawSox bats didn't really come alive, however, until the bottom of the ninth inning with the home team trailing, 4-1.
Daniel Nava, who had struck out in his first three at-bats, started the rally with one out in the inning with a sharp single up the middle. Bryce Brentz followed with a walk. After a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third, Garin Cecchini did what he does best and worked a walk to load the bases. Brandon Snyder, who had homered in the seventh inning, flew out to right field for the second out. Dan Butler kept the rally going with a sharp single to left, scoring two. The Indians' lead was down to 4-3, but Pawtucket had the tying run standing on second base.
The stage was set for those who remained of the 5,000 fans at McCoy Stadium for, who else, Mike McCoy. Unfortunately, McCoy sent those fans home disappointed when he lifted a harmless pop up in foul territory which was caught for the final out by third baseman Brent Morel.
Pawtucket will try again to beat Indianapolis at McCoy Stadium on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. as Allen Webster (1-1, 2.78 ERA) toes the rubber against Jay Jackson (1-1, 8.05 ERA).