MOOSIC — Despite losing four straight games and only scoring three runs in the process, there was no panic in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders dugout Tuesday night.
It’s a 141-game schedule after all, and there would be plenty of time for the RailRiders to dig themselves out of the International League North Division cellar.
They just had to take that first step. And it was a mighty one.
The RailRiders (11-13) broke out for seven runs to piggyback a strong start from southpaw Daniel Camarena, who pitched seven innings of shutout baseball.
With the offense and pitching clicking, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was able to build some distance between itself and the Buffalo Bisons pretty quickly. The RailRiders used a three-run third inning to build the only cushion they would need en route to a 7-1 victory over the Bisons (7-9).
“You always need wins, but you can’t come into the day thinking you need anything,” RailRiders catcher Erik Kratz said. “It’s like saying you need a hit in an at-bat. You have to trust the process of having good at-bats, pitchers making their pitches and all of that stuff happens in the early work.
“All of the work that we’ve been doing, the guys have been doing in the cage, in the field, hasn’t been paying off in the game. What a win does, it energizes us, but it’s not going to make us change the way we were preparing, just like losses aren’t going to make us change the way we were preparing.”
The RailRiders got the ball rolling in the bottom of the third inning when the first three batters reached base safely — a Billy Fleming single, a Ryan McBroom five-pitch walk and a single from Kratz.
With the bases loaded, Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada each knocked in a run with outfield singles. Brandon Drury finished the frame when Kratz scored as the New York Yankees third baseman grounded into a double play.
When Camarena returned to the mound with a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth, he wanted to put his stamp on the game. He had only faced two batters above the minimum to that point, but that wasn’t good enough. So he mowed the the Bisons down in order and quickly trotted back to the dugout.
Camarena only allowed five hits and walked a batter while striking out six in what was his first win of the season.
“It was huge, but I knew at that point — I took it upon myself to, ‘Hey, we need a shut-down inning right now,’” Camarena said. “I tried to put my best effort out there for that inning to try to throw up a zero quickly and efficiently and I was happy with it.”
After allowing the Bisons to catch their breath for an inning, the RailRiders were back in attack mode to start the fifth.
With the bottom of the order up again, Kratz started the run with a one-out bomb over the concourse in left field. Then, after Wade and Drury each worked a pair of walks, Kyle Higashioka cleared the bases with his first of two doubles to deep right-center field.
The RailRiders added their seventh and final run when Fleming grounded out to third in the sixth.
“It’s all about when you get guys on, you have to bring them in,” Higashioka said. “We did a good job of that tonight and it showed with seven wins on the board and a big win.”
There was a scary moment at PNC Field in the top of seventh inning when a hard-hit ground ball off the bat of Buffalo first baseman Rowdy Tellez in shallow right field grazed off of Fleming’s face.
After a short moment on the ground and a meeting with RailRiders trainer Darren London, Fleming stayed in the game. He would later record his second hit of the night in the eighth.
“I’m doing all good,” Fleming said. “I honestly was just hoping it didn’t hit my nose. I didn’t know, kind of, where it was on my face because it happened so quick. Shane Robinson was right there and I asked him a question real quick. He said it just got me on the inside the bridge of my nose.”
Drury here until next weekend
RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell was asked after the game if he thought Drury could be ready to re-join the Yankees on Friday.
The first-year skipper was unsure and added that he thought that the possibility was “a little unrealistic.” Drury is batting .368 in six games with the RailRiders.
Drury missed morning work and went for a checkup on his migraines and blurry vision on Tuesday.
“I think that he’s going to take a little more time than that, than Friday. Maybe next week some time,” Mitchell said. “I think they want him to get more games under his belt in a row. The rainout hurt him because he played one and then he had to start all over.
“He’s still working on the issues and stuff that he has.”
RHP David Hale signed a minor league contract and was assigned to the RailRiders on Tuesday. INF/OF Cody Asche was released from his contract as the corresponding move. Hale will piggyback Nestor Cortes Friday against Pawtucket. … Reliever Gio Gallegos, who’s been out with a tight groin, is now dealing with a tight back. “It’s kind of concerning because you could have a groin — you could have a hip issue, a labrum— and it causes a something in your groin. I think they’re going to check that out and see if that’s the issue,” Mitchell said. … OF Mark Payton, who had surgery on his knee during spring training, is making progress. He expects to play in games next week. Mitchell said Payton could join the team in about three weeks.
RailRiders 7, Bisons 1
PB: Jansen (1); PO: Camarena; DP: Bisons: 1, RailRiders 0; LOB: Bisons 10, RailRiders 6; 2B: Tellez (3), Lopes (2), Higashioka 2 (4), Robinson (3); 3B: Sweeney (1); HR: Kratz (3); SB: Wade (3); CS: Fields (1), McBroom (1).
Buffalo`000`000`001 — 1
RailRiders`003`003`10X — 7
Borucki (L, 1-3)`5`6`6`6`3`5
Camarena (W, 1-1)`7`5`0`0`1`6
HBP: Parmley (by Camarena).
Umpires: Alex Tosi, HP; Sean Barber, 1B; Ryan Wills, 2B; Scott Costello, 3B.
Time: 2:16; Attendance: 3,899.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle