RailRiders pitcher Michael King’s debut spoiled by Buffalo’s comeback

By DJ Eberle - [email protected]
Former longtime New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams does a soundcheck before performing the national anthem prior to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ game against the Buffalo Bisons at PNC Field on Sunday. - DJ Eberle | Times Leader
- DJ Eberle | Times Leader

MOOSIC — Michael King gave the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders seven strong innings in his Triple-A debut, but that wouldn’t be enough.

They were already sporting a three-run lead over the Buffalo Bisons heading into the ninth inning. And with Tommy Kahnle — who was fresh off of Friday’s relief appearance with the New York Yankees — on the mound, a series-ending win looked as close to a guarantee as any.

Then the wheels fell off.

Kahnle recorded just one out as all five batters he faced reached first base, and he was responsible for all four runs that crossed the plate in the frame as the RailRiders (58-53) fell 6-5 to Buffalo.

“We should have won. Bottom line is, we should have won,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “Tough. That’s an understatement, really. (King) pitched awesome. He pitched great. Obviously, bullpen couldn’t hold it for whatever reason.”

The ninth inning spoiled what was an impressive debut for King, who was promoted from Double-A Trenton on Saturday.

After starting the season with High-A Tampa, picking up a 1-3 record and 1.79 ERA in seven starts, King quickly moved to Double-A, where he continued to find success (6-2, 2.09).

Sunday was no different.

King gave up just one run — a two-out, seventh-inning home run to Buffalo first baseman Rowdy Tellez — on just three hits and a walk. He struck out four batters, including one looking to Anthony Alford after the Tellez homer.

“There’s always a bunch of improvements,” King said. “That home run in the seventh got me a little bit. That’s just one of those pitches I took off and left up. But yeah, I executed the game plan pretty well. Kept the fastball down for the most part. Was just able to work quickly.”

While King doesn’t blow pitches by batters — his fastball sat around 93 mph — the 23-year-old right-hander has an impressive two-seam fastball that comes in on the hip against left-handed batters and was able to induce groundball outs. He recorded 12 groundball outs compared to just three flyouts.

King was also able to keep the Bisons (50-60) off-balance most of the afternoon while working with a quick pace.

“Definitely my fastball command was the best,” King said. “I was able to get glove-side pretty easily, whether it was in on lefties or away to righties. Just keeping them honest. Induce groundballs whenever I needed to. Get quick outs. My slider wasn’t great, but I was able to kind of work off of it with my two-seam changeup and keep hitters off balance and kind of attack them.”

“This kid is very good,” added RailRiders catcher Francisco Diaz, who caught King in both High-A and Double-A this season. “Two-seamer, good changeup and then the slider was working today. It was amazing seeing him up here and working that way today. It was fun.”

Ronald Torreyes had his best game at the plate in a RailRiders uniform.

Batting out of the No. 5 hole, the 25-year-old second baseman collected a game-high three hits, including an RBI single to left in the eighth inning. Torreyes scored two times as well.

The No. 4 and 6 hitters, Mike Ford and Mark Payton, were both 2-for-4. Ford doubled in the eighth inning and then scored on Torreyes’ single. Payton knocked home Torreyes on an RBI triple in the second.

“Just right in the middle of the order did a really good job.,” Mitchell said. “Ford, Toe, Payton, all of those guys did a really good job.”

Bernie graces PNC Field

New York Yankees legend Bernie Williams made a stop at PNC Field on Sunday.

After headlining the Scranton Jazz Festival with his band, The Bernie Williams Collective, on Saturday, Williams came to PNC Field to play the national anthem. He also hosted a Breathless Blowout prior to the bottom of the first inning.

The Breathless Blowout, where fans throughout the stadium together blew a bubble, raises awareness for and provides hope for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. His father, Bernabe Williams Sr., suffered from the rare lung disease and ultimately died from the condition in May 2001.

“It’s going to be, basically, trying to encourage everybody to do something that people with pulmonary fibrosis will find extremely hard to do,” Williams told the Times Leader last week. “That’s one of the most difficult things to do, blow bubble gum. It’s kind of like doing this group activity to honor those people and their families and everything that they’re going through. Hopefully we raise some awareness for it, a good cause, as well.”

Buffalo 6, RailRiders 5

Buffalo`AB`R`H`BI

Davis cf`5`0`0`0

Smith dh`4`0`1`0

Guerrero 3b`3`0`0`0

Jansen c`4`1`1`0

Pompey lf`4`1`1`0

Tellez 1b`3`1`2`1

Ngoepe pr`0`1`0`0

McKinney 1b`0`0`0`0

Alford rf`4`1`1`2

Urena ss`4`0`1`1

Lopes 2b`3`1`1`2

Totals`34`6`8`6

RailRiders`AB`R`H`BI

Wade rf`4`0`0`0

Avelino ss`4`0`0`0

McBroom 1b`4`0`1`0

Ford dh`4`2`2`0

Torreyes 2b`4`2`3`1

Payton cf`4`1`2`1

Zehner lf`3`0`1`2

Urshela 3b`4`0`0`1

Diaz c`2`0`0`0

Totals`33`5`9`5

Outfield assists: Pompey (Torreyes at 2B); LOB: Bisons 4, RailRiders 3; 2B: Alford (13), Ford (12); 3B: Payton (2); HR: Tellez (11), Lopes (2); CS: McBroom (4).

Buffalo`000`000`114 — 6

RailRiders`020`000`210 — 5

Buffalo`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Cumpton`5.2`4`2`2`0`4

Guerrieri`1.1`3`2`2`1`1

Mayza (W, 4-2)`1.2`2`1`1`0`2

Shafer (S, 12)`0.1`0`0`0`0`1

RailRiders`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

King`7`3`1`1`1`4

Kontos (H, 4)`1`1`1`1`0`1

Kahnle (H, 4)(L, 2-2)`0.1`3`4`4`1`0

Harvey (BS, 3)`0.2`1`0`0`0`0

WP: Cumpton, King.

Umpires: Rich Grassa, HP; Adam Beck, 1B; Skyler Shown, 3B.

Time: 2:42; Attendance: 7,563.

Former longtime New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams does a soundcheck before performing the national anthem prior to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ game against the Buffalo Bisons at PNC Field on Sunday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_Bernie-Williams-PNC-1-1.jpgFormer longtime New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams does a soundcheck before performing the national anthem prior to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ game against the Buffalo Bisons at PNC Field on Sunday. DJ Eberle | Times Leader

https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_RR-logo-for-web-1.jpgDJ Eberle | Times Leader

By DJ Eberle

[email protected]

T.L. EXPRESS

Today’s Game: The RailRiders are off on Monday before they travel to Norfolk for a three-game series against the Tides.

Riding the Rails: LHP James Reeves transferred to Double-A Trenton; RHP Luis Cessa optioned by N.Y. Yankees on Friday and has reported; RHP Tommy Kahnle optioned by N.Y. Yankees on Saturday and has reported; RHP George Kontos acquired via trade from Cleveland on Saturday, assigned to SWB and has reported.

On Radio: All RailRiders games can be heard live on NEPA Sports Radio – The Game.

HOW THEY SCORED

RAILRIDERS SECOND: Brandon Cumpton pitching. Ronald Torreyes singles to right. Mark Payton triples to deep right, Torreyes scores. Zack Zehner singles to right, Payton scores. RAILRIDERS 2-0

BUFFALO SEVENTH: Michael King pitching. Rowdy Tellez homers to deep right center. RAILRIDERS 2-1

RAILRIDERS SEVENTH: Taylor Guerrieri pitching. Mike Ford singles to center. Ronald Torreyes singles to right, Ford to second. Mark Payton singles on a bunt to the pitcher, Ford to third, Torreyes to second. Zack Zehner out on a sacrifice fly to right, Ford scores, Torreyes to third. Gio Urshela grounds into a force out to second, Torreyes scores, Payton out at second, Urshella to first. RAILRIDERS 4-1

BUFFALO EIGHTH: George Kontos pitching. Tom Lopes homers to deep left. RAILRIDERS 4-2

RAILRIDERS EIGHT: Tim Mayza pitching. Mike Ford doubles to deep right. Ronald Torreyes singles to left, Ford scores, Torreyes out at second, LF Dalton Pompey to C Danny Jansen to SS Richard Urena to 1B Rowdy Tellez. RAILRIDERS 5-2

BUFFALO NINTH: Tommy Kahnle pitching. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. walks. Danny Jansen singles to center, Guerrero Jr. to second. Dalton Pompey singles to right, Guerrero Jr. to third, Jansen to second. Rowdy Tellez grounds into a force out to the pitcher, Guerrero Jr. out at home, Jansen to thid, Pompey to second, Tellez to first. Pitch-runner Gift Ngoepe replaces Tellez. Anthony Alford doubles to deep left, Jansen and Pompey score, Ngoepe to third. JoeHarvey replaces Kahnle. Richard Urena singles to center, Ngoepe scores, Alford to third. Tim Lopes out on a sacrificie fly to center, Alford scores. BUFFALO 6-5

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle