SWB RailRiders Blank Red Wings
MOOSIC — Maybe they could have produced a little more with runners in scoring position, RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell thought.
His team only had two hits in nine such opportunities, and both came in the eighth inning.
But this game was much better than the previous night.
Erik Swanson started a dominant game by the pitching staff, Abiatal Avelino delivered a couple insurance runs with a triple and the RailRiders blanked Rochester, 4-0, at PNC Field on Saturday.
It was the RailRiders’ first shutout since June 12, and their first nine-inning shutout since June 1.
It started with Swanson, who was making his first start off the disabled list with SWB after a groin injury sidelined him June 14.
The big righty allowed two hits in 4⅔ scoreless innings, walked none and struck out three.
He went right after the Red Wings, too.
Swanson didn’t throw his first offspeed offering until the 13th pitch of the game. Through two innings, 28 of his 29 pitches were heaters. He stuck with it.
“That’s usually my game plan,” Swanson said. “Maybe not to quite the extent I did tonight.
“I was with (catcher Wilkin Castillo), though, on every pitch. Guys weren’t quite catching up to it, so why not keep going to it?”
Swanson allowed a leadoff single to Kennys Vargas in the second inning — it came on the pitch after his first changeup — and a bunt base hit to Gregorio Petit in the fourth. Otherwise, he overpowered Rochester, exiting after Zack Granite fouled out on pitch No. 57 — the exact number he was allotted in the game.
“I thought he was really good,” Mitchell said. “I thought he threw, for not throwing for a while here at this level, he had good command — really good command — threw some good offspeed pitches. I think it’s a really good sign that he’s healthy and that he can help us, for sure, down the stretch.”
J.P. Feyereisen, Joe Harvey and Cody Carroll combined to allow two hits the rest of the way. Rochester had just four in the game, one night after they scored nine runs on 16 hits. Feyereisen struck out two in 1⅓ innings. Harvey and Carroll continued to pump fastballs by the Red Wings, with Harvey striking out three and walking one in two innings, and Carroll striking out two and walking two in the ninth.
“Obviously, our pitching was better tonight,” Mitchell said. “I mean, our pitching was outstanding tonight.”
Mike Ford gave the RailRiders the lead in the second inning, lofting a solo home run out to left field off Rochester starter Kohl Stewart. The bats sputtered a bit after that.
They had three base runners in the third inning, but couldn’t score. They had a runner at second base every inning from the fourth to the seventh, but couldn’t come up with the big hit.
Avelino came through in the eighth.
Ford started the rally in a painful way, taking a pitch from reliever Tyler Duffey off the top of his foot. Ford hobbled down to first, but was replaced by pinch runner L.J. Mazzilli.
Ryan McBroom poked a single the opposite way, allowing Mazzilli to go from first to third.
Avelino, who singled in his first two at-bats, jumped on the first pitch he saw and drove it into the right-center field gap for a triple.
“I just tried to hit my pitch: fastball,” he said. “He threw me that fastball. I tried to hit (it) opposite field, too. That’s (what) happened.”
Mazzilli and McBroom scored easily, then Avelino came home to make it 4-0 when Rey Navarro bounced a single over the drawn-in infield.
“(Avelino’s) a first pitch swinger a lot, sometimes,” Mitchell said. “But when he’s going good, and the ball’s up, he hits real well. When he’s really going well, he knows the strike zone pretty darn good. When he’s not, when he’s pressed a little bit and it comes and goes, he’ll start to swing at bad pitches or he’ll start to take strikes a lot.”
Carroll walked two with two outs in the top of the ninth, but escaped by getting Jon Kemmer to strike out on a breaking ball.
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