MOOSIC — Friday’s doubleheader against the Rochester Red Wings was the perfect example of the highs and lows of baseball.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders southpaw Justus Sheffield left early with a shoulder stiffness after pitching 3.2 innings of no-hit baseball in what would be a 5-4 loss in extras. And reeling from the extra-inning loss, the RailRiders scored six runs in the second inning of the nightcap, capped off with a grand slam off the bat of a rehabbing Brandon Drury.
The RailRiders (16-18) split the doubleheader against the Red Wings (15-15), winning the second game 7-0.
“Any time you get a W it’s good,” said RailRiders outfielder Clint Frazier, who was 3-for-3 with two doubles and a home run in the nightcap. “Obviously it sucked to lose in the first game, but it’s good to win in the second game and keep this series going.”
Sheffield was hoping his PNC Field debut would have gone better. And for the first three innings, it was going well. Really well.
The 21-year-old southpaw didn’t allow a hit through three frames and struck out a pair in the second inning. But shortly after Sheffield jogged back out to the mound to pitch the fourth inning things took a turn for the worse as the lefty was pulled from the game after he retired Rochester Red Wings designated hitter Kennys Vargas.
Things got worse for the RailRiders from there as a four-man relief effort allowed the Red Wings to score five runs.
“I felt good. Just unfortunate really,” Sheffield said. “I wanted to stay in the game, but things happen,” said Sheffield, who isn’t expected to have any future tests done on his shoulder. “I definitely thought I could have finished it and would have been fine, but I think it was more precautionary than anything.”
Sheffield blew a 93 mph fastball past Vargas for the second out of the inning, but it would be the last pitch he’d throw.
RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell and trainer Darren London immediately ran out to the pitcher’s mound to check on Sheffield. After a lengthy meeting on the mound, one that brought in the entire Scranton/Wilkes-Barre infield, they pulled the plug and a frustrated Sheffield walked off the mound and into the dugout.
Sheffield pitched 3.2 innings of no-hit baseball without factoring into the decision. He walked a pair of batters, but struck out three.
“It was stiff all day and I tried to get it stretched out. Just really couldn’t get it all the way stretched out in stretch and in bullpen. Went in the game, felt decent during the game. Just kind of went out there and kept going and going and going and as the game went on it stiffened up a little bit more. Tried to stretch it back out in between innings — the third and going out for the fourth — and then the trainers came out.”
As Drury continues to work through severe migraines and blurry vision, the New York Yankees third baseman returned to Moosic after a six-game stint with Double-A Trenton while the RailRiders were on the road.
It didn’t take him long to make a statement back in a RailRiders uniform, playing in both games of the doubleheader.
Drury walked in his first at-bat of the nightcap before breaking the game open with a grand slam the second time he walked to the plate. His grand slam capped off a six-run second inning.
Shane Robinson and Zack Zehner got things going with a pair of one-out singles before Ryan McBroom loaded the bases after working a walk. L.J. Mazzilli put Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on the board with an RBI groundout to short. After a Clint Frazier walk, Tyler Wade was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in the second run before Drury put the game away.
“Great at-bat. It really, obviously with two outs, just two get a hit would be nice, but he crushed it,” Mitchell said. “It was nice to go ahead 6-0 and Josh Rogers just ran with it.”
In similar fashion to Sheffield, Rogers took the ball with confidence to start the nightcap.
With five pitchers being used in the first game of the doubleheader, the 23-year-old pitched a complete-game shutout to give the bullpen a break after being responsible for 4.1 innings in the opener. Rogers gave up four hits and walked one while striking out five Red Wings.
“I just tried to set the tone early, throw a lot of strikes,” Rogers said. “That’s what I try to do every single time. Definitely after that long game I knew the team was taxed and just to try to get ahead of guys early and try to put them away as quick as possible. I always like to try to throw complete games in the seven inning games.”
PNC Field hosted its first extra-inning game of the season.
Erik Kratz hit a two-run home run to tie the opener 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh. With the game heading into the eighth, Rochester got to start the frame with a runner on second. The Red Wings scored a pair of runs in the top half before the RailRiders could only muster a single run in the bottom of the eighth, falling 5-4.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle