ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The season-long road trip of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees has come to an end.
The Yankees, whose vagabond existence didn't get in the way of them capturing the IL North Division crown, ran out of road Saturday, when they suffered a 7-1 season-ending loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox in Game 4 of their semifinal set at Frontier Field.
Playoff participants for the fourth time in five years, the Yankees were upended by the IL wildcard winning Paw Sox, who will face the winner of the Indianapolis/Charlotte semifinal set for the league championship.
That the Yanks, who drew just 442 in the last of their 48 games played at Frontier Field, functioned as well as they did while PNC Field underwent extensive renovations is a story that has caused jaws to drop all over the baseball world.
To try to write another chapter to the tale, the Yankees, who were already short on starting pitching, turned to journeyman lefthander Vidal Nuno, a 25-year-old who was making his Triple-A debut.
Nuno's swan song came after just 1 2/3 innings.
After strolling through an uneventful opening inning, Nuno was raked by the Paw Sox for seven runs in the second.
The Paw Sox loaded the bases with none away, and all three runners eventually scored, one run at a time.
The crushing blow came when Pawtucket third baseman Danny Valencia blasted a three-run homer to left, which ended Nuno's night, and for all practical purposes, the Yankees' remarkable sojourn.
"It happened pretty quick," SWB skipper Dave Miley said. "I didn't think there was going to be a whole lot of trouble, and then it snowballed. But you've got to tip you're hat to 'Figgy'."
By that, Miley meant Pawtucket starter Nelson Figueroa – who hitched on for part of that ride while making 17 appearances while with the Yanks earlier this year – held his former mates to just two hits throughout his eight inning stint.
"When a team releases you," Figueroa said, "you put that chip on your shoulder and carry it for a little while. You always want to prove you're not done. I knew I wasn't done by a long shot."
The first of those – a fourth solo homer by Corban Joseph – accounted for all of the Yankee scoring.
Figueroa went on to fan eight Yankees while walking just one.
However by that time, reflection on the Yankees' memorable campaign could begin.
"There were a lot of questions in spring training," veteran catcher Gustavo Molina said, "so you prepared for that. You had to take everything with you. For the first two months, you still thought about it. But after that, you only had one choice, and that was to play baseball."
Molina admitted that keeping track of time and location was a challenge.
|Hazelbaker dh||4||0||1||1||Russo 3b||4||0||0||0|
|Thomas 2b||4||1||0||1||Joseph 2b||4||1||1||1|
|Linares lf||3||1||1||1||Mustelier lf||4||0||0||0|
|Valencia 3b||4||1||1||3||Murton 1b||4||0||0||0|
|LaRoche 1b||4||1||1||0||Mesa cf||3||0||0||0|
|Brentz rf||3||1||2||0||Garner rf||3||0||0||0|
|Butler c||4||1||1||0||Romine c||2||0||0||0|
|Repko cf||3||0||1||0||Pena ss||3||0||1||0|
|Hee ss||4||1||1||1||McDonald dh||3||0||0||0|
E – LaRoche (1) LOB – Pawtucket 3, Yankees 3 2B – Brentz (2) HR – Valencia (1), Joseph (1)
|Figueroa (W, 1-0)||8||2||1||1||8||1|
|Nuno (L, 0-1)||1.2||7||7||7||1||1|