ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Allowing opponents to score runs with two outs has plagued the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders all season.
Conversely, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has had trouble scoring with two outs as well.
But the RailRiders were able to buck the trend Thursday against the Rochester Red Wings.
Led by a strong effort from Justus Sheffield and SWB bats that finally coming alive, the RailRiders (57-51) were able to avoid their first four-game losing streak since May 21 with a 6-2 win over the Red Wings (49-59).
“I thought they came out, a day game after a night game, with energy from the start,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “You figure, if you get a few runs here and there that with Sheff pitching you’re looking pretty good.”
Rochester scored six of their seven runs in Tuesday’s victory over the RailRiders with two outs. Then on Wednesday, two of their six runs came when the RailRiders pitching staff was one out away from heading back into the dugout.
Thursday looked like more of the same when Willians Astudillo knocked home Taylor Motter with a two-out double in the first inning. Just one frame later, the Red Wings were threatening again after getting two runners on with just one out.
But instead of letting the pressure get to Sheffield, he retired the next two batters he faced, with a strikeout of the No. 9 hitter, Jeremy Hazelbaker, and forcing Taylor Motter into a groundout to third to end the inning.
Sheffield found himself in a similar situation in the sixth inning, when he walked Andy Wilkins and Kennys Vargas with two outs, before being pulled in favor of reliever David Sosebee, who was up from Double-A. The right-handed reliever bailed Sheffield out by inducing Edgar Corcino into a groundout to first to end the threat and frame.
“It was impressive what he did — both of them, really,” Mitchell said. “Sheff, obviously Sheff’s Sheff. But (Sosebee), him doing that. We seriously threw him in the fire right off the bat. But you know what? I’ve had him in Double-A. He’s very even-keeled and he just doesn’t get excited, and you can tell by his throwing. He didn’t look nervous or anything and he just went right after them.”
Despite not pitching out of the sixth inning and walking four batters, Sheffield felt he had some of his best stuff while he registered a no-decision.
The southpaw struck out seven batters and retired 11 straight at one point. But it will be the four walks and the fact he loaded the bases before he was pulled that will leave a sour taste in his mouth.
Sheffield gave up one run on three hits and four walks in 5.2 innings.
“That’s what makes you mad about those games,” Sheffield said. “I think I get more (angry) about those game just because you get a groove and you’re going, you’re going. You know you have one more inning, maybe squeeze two, but probably not — one more inning left. It’s just frustrating. Got the groundball I wanted (against Astudillo) for the double play and then the guy beat it out. Then I had to face those couple extra hitters and that’s where I need to lock it in. Stay focused.”
After failing to make much noise offensively in any of the first four games of the five-game series, the RailRiders made the most of their 10 hits, scoring six runs for the first time since July 28 against Gwinnett.
Mike Ford broke out of his 2-for-13 slump with a two-run homer to deep right center to give the RailRiders a 2-1 lead in the first inning.
Only sporting a one-run lead heading into the fourth inning, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre put the game away for good with a three-run frame.
Abiatal Avelinos started the fourth off with a triple and was knocked in by a Devyn Bolasky single to left. Ronald Torreyes added his own RBI single to left three batters later and Ryan McBroom followed up the run-scoring single with a five-pitch walk to load the bases for Ford. Like McBroom, the RailRiders designated hitter also worked a walk to give Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a 5-1 lead.
The RailRiders tacked on another insurance run in the eighth inning with an RBI double from Mark Payton.
“They came up big. Two-out hits, two-out RBI are always huge,” Ford said. “I just think we’re going to keep going. We have a bunch of new faces and everything — new, but old because we all know each other — and we just have to mesh and get it.”
Sosebee makes debut
David Sosebee relieved Sheffield in the sixth inning, making his Triple-A debut. The reliever pitched gave up one run on one hit, a eighth-inning Astudillo home run, and a walk in 2.1 innings. He struck out a pair.
However, his stint with the RailRiders was short-lived. Mitchell told Sosebee he would be heading back to Trenton after to the game.
RailRiders 6, Red Wings 2
E: Astudillo (4); PB: Diaz (3); Pickoffs: Sosebee (Hazelbaker at 1st); LOB: RailRiders 10, Red Wings 6; 2B: Payton (3), Motter (6), Astudillo (15); 3B: Avelino (5); HR: Ford (13), Astudillo (10); SB: Avelino (7).
RailRiders`200`300`010 — 6
Rochester`100`000`010 — 2
Sheffield (W, 5-3)`5.2`3`1`1`4`7
Sosebee (H, 1)`2.1`1`1`1`1`2
De Jong (L, 0-1)`3.2`6`5`5`4
Umpires: Rich Riley, HP; Matt Arcovio, 1B; John Bacon, 3B.
Time: 3:14; Attendance: 7,187.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle