MOOSIC — The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders got back in the win column for the first time since the All-Star break behind dominant pitching and a late offensive output for their sixth shut-out victory of the season Saturday night.
In his first appearance off of the 7-day disabled list, Erik Swanson set the tone for the RailRiders, keeping the Rochester Red Wings off balance all night, despite having been placed on a strict pitch count.
Swanson pitched 4.2 shutout innings as the RailRiders (47-43) beat Rochester (43-45), 4-0.
“Our pitching was outstanding tonight,” said RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell. “Offensively we did better but we need to start getting hits with runners in scoring position.
“We hope to keep rolling. We are going to score runs it’s just a matter of getting into the swing of things after the three day break.”
Before the game, RailRiders skipper Bobby Mitchell said Swanson would be on a 57-pitch count. Mitchell stayed true to his word and pulled Swanson after 57 pitches on the nose, despite the right-hander’s impressive outing.
“For not throwing at this level in awhile, he had really good command of his off-speed pitches,” Mitchell said. “It’s a really good sign that he’s healthy and that he can help us down the stretch.”
Swanson hadn’t pitched at the Triple-A level since June 12 when he came away with a victory over the very same Red Wings.
The right-hander was effective even in a limited capacity, allowing just two hits while striking out three.
“I asked (RailRiders pitching coach Tommy Phelps) if I could get one more batter if I was at 56 pitches,” Swanson jokingly said. “But it was good to be back.
“I felt somewhat back to normal, my arm felt good. I knew I threw a lot of fastballs. But if I’m having success with it, I’ll keep doing it.”
Mike Ford launched a solo-shot into the Rochester bullpen in the top of the second inning off Red Wings starter Kohl Stewart to get things going.
Ford’s home run was looking to be the game’s lone run until an offensive outburst that he would start in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The designated hitter was hit by a pitch at the top of his foot. Ford trotted gingerly to first base before Mitchell called L.J. Mazzilli off the bench to pinch-run for him. After the game, Mitchell said that Ford was going to have an x-ray on the top of his foot.
“He was pretty sore and I think he will probably be pretty sore for tomorrow’s game,” Mitchell said.
With Mazzilli at first, Ryan McBroom laced a single to right field sending the pinch runner to third base.
With runners on the corners, Abiatal Avelino with two hits already recorded in the contest roped a first-pitch triple to right-center plating Mazzilli and McBroom to extend the RailRiders’ lead to 3-0.
All three of Avelino’s hits in the contest were to the opposite field.
“I just tried to look for the fastball and go to the opposite field,” Avelino said.
“When he’s going the other way and hitting the right center field gap that’s when he’s at his best,” Mitchell added. “He was really aggressive tonight and it carried throughout the night.”
Before his demotion back to Triple-A, Brandon Drury had five hits in his last 32 at bats.
In his return to the RailRiders lineup Friday night, Drury went 0-for-4 at the plate. Things changed for the third baseman when he went 2-for-4 at the plate in Saturday’s win.
Mitchell hopes his team has continued success after their victory Saturday night.
“We hope to keep rolling,” Mitchell said. “We are going to score runs it’s just a matter of getting into the swing of things after the three day break.”
The Red Wings placed Byron Buxton on the 7-day disabled list with a sprained left wrist before the game started. … In the top of the sixth inning, Nick Gordon left the game due to an apparent injury when facing J.P. Feyereisen. Leonardo Reginatto manned the keystone in his place.
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes