Porcupine Points – August 9
LET’S NOT PLAY TWO PLEASE: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders were swept in a doubleheader by the Buffalo Bisons on Thursday night. The Bisons took game one, 5-2. Moises Sierra went 3-3 for Buffalo, and homered twice as he factored in each run scored. Corey Patterson homered to tie the game at two in the fifth, but it would be the last time SWB would score. In game two, the Bisons edged out the RailRiders, 2-1. Randy Ruiz hit a home run to give the RailRiders an early lead, but Andy LaRoche singled home two runs in the fourth to put Buffalo ahead for good.
FIT FOR WHITLEY: The RailRiders sent out reliever Chase Whitley to start game two, and it marked Whitley’s first start since Sept. 1 of last season, when he tossed four scoreless frames against Pawtucket. While he did not quite go that long, Whitley pitched into the fourth and struck out four batters. His lone run was conceded by the bullpen, and he finished the game with a no-decision.
WELCOME BACK TO SWB: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre offense received a big boost before Thursday’s doubleheader. Brent Lillibridge had cleared waivers, and re-joined the RailRiders after being outrighted from the New York Yankees. Lillibridge batted .171 (6-35) in 11 games with the Yankees from July 19-August 4. He was designated for assignment to make room on the active and 40-man rosters for Alex Rodriguez. Before his call-up to New York, Lillibridge batted .341 (28-82) with seven home runs and 15 RBIs in 25 games with the RailRiders. SWB went 16-7 in those 23 games. His return to the lineup last night featured a base hit in game one, but he went 1-7 with a stolen base for the night.
PINEDA TO THE DL: To make room for Lillibridge on SWB’s active roster, right-hander Michael Pineda was placed on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 6. Pineda has shown the flashes of brilliance that made him an American League All-Star in his rookie season in 2011 with the Seattle Mariners. He was 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in six starts, and struck out 26 batters in 23.1 innings of work.
TURN THE POWER BACK ON: The longest home run drought of Randy Ruiz’s RailRider career came to an end last night. In game two, he blasted a Bobby Korecky pitch over the center field fence for his 15th round tripper in a SWB uniform this season. It was Ruiz’s first homer since July 28 at Louisville, and it keeps him within shouting distance of Dan Johnson’s team-leading 20 dingers.
SNAPPED OUT OF IT: With his home run and two-hit performance in game one of last night’s DH, Corey Patterson hopes he has ended his slump. Entering last night’s games, Patterson was hitless in his last 22 at-bats, and saw his batting average fall to .173, its lowest point since Patterson joined SWB in June. The round tripper was Patterson’s first since July 7 at PNC Field against Lehigh Valley.
BIRTHDAY BOY: While last night wasn’t exactly a party, Ronnier Mustelier celebrated his 29th home run. He started in game one at third base, and made two great defensive plays. However, “Musty” struggled at the plate, striking out all three times. He fared much better in game two, and made a highlight reel catch in left field by leaping and slamming into the wall. He also went 1-3 at the dish.
UNUSUAL FOR ZAGURSKI: Left-hander Mike Zagurski replaced Whitley last night in game two, and was very unlike himself. He struggled with his command, as he walked two batters and hit Sierra on the foot. Zagurski threw 37 pitches, but 19 of them were out of the zone. He ended up working two and two-thirds innings, and issued two walks. He also allowed the go-ahead single by LaRoche that plated two runs. It was the first time Zagurski has conceded a run in an outing since July 11 against Syracuse, which was also the last time he walked more than one batter. He’s only walked nine in 22.1 innings pitched.