By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — On Monday night, when asked about Scranton-Wilkes/Barre shortstop Gleyber Torres‘s 3-for-3 performance, Red Wings manager Mike Quade simply stated, “Yeah, we’ll have to find a way to get him out along with the rest of them.”
Nik Turley, the Wings’ Tuesday starter, had an effective path: just strike everyone out.
Turley struck out a career-high 15 batters and allowed just four hits in six shutout innings, helping the Red Wings defeat the RailRiders 8-1 in front of 3,355 umbrella-toting fans at Frontier Field.
The outing looked to have the makings of something historic in the first four innings, as each of the first 10 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outs were by way of strikes, with three hits and a walk sprinkled in. While the RailRiders eventually flew out and grounded out on occasion, the pitching performance was more than enough for Rochester, as its offense- along with some RailRider errors- gave Turley plenty of run support.
Despite the career high, Turley said he would have traded some strikeouts for a deeper outing. By the end of the sixth, he had thrown 105 pitches and gave way to Drew Rucinski for the seventh.
“I never try to strike out a lot of guys; it just kind of happened tonight,” Turley said. “Honestly, I wish they were putting it in play. I want them to put it in play so I could have quicker innings. My pitch count got up there pretty quick because of all the strikeouts, so if I didn’t have as many as I did I feel like I would’ve gone a lot deeper in the game.”
The Red Wings franchise record for strikeouts in a game was set by Roric Harrison, who had 18 against Toledo in 1971. Harrison’s pitch count that day is buried in the archives, but regardless, what Turley did with the temperature hovering around 50 degrees and mist dancing around the diamond all evening was an awe-inspiring feat.
“I have to say, that was pretty impressive,” remarked catcher Mitch Garver, who caught 17 “Ks” in total. “To see 15 strikeouts from a starting pitcher is pretty amazing, and the fact that he got ahead of guys very effectively, put them away with two strikes and (was) able to throw around 100 pitches in six innings, it’s really good.”
Turley’s 15K eclipsed a 14-strikeout performance from Jose Berrios last August 31st when the Wings played Syracuse, but fell two short of of former Red Wing Pete Harnisch who amassed 17 strikeouts on August 4, 1988.
The left-hander relied heavily on the slider to send down the RailRiders with ease, including Torres, who fanned twice on darting breaking balls. The pitch selection was all according to plan.
“We wanted to throw his slider more often and work on his changeup a little bit,” Garver noted. “He was very effective tonight, throwing a lot of strikes, getting ahead of guys and putting them away with two strikes.”
Calling the game wasn’t the 26-year-old backstop’s only impact on Tuesday, however; he broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning with a three-run home run to left.
RailRiders pitcher Chance Adams matched Turley zero for zero until the big fly, which marked the first of two consecutive three-run frames. Adams allowed just three hits but was saddled with the loss as the homer turned the game from pitcher’s duel to Red Wing party.
“It was awesome,” Turley recalled of the play that put him in line for his first win of the season. “We were celebrating, we were going a little crazy, because he hit it into the wind. You’ve gotta hit it pretty hard to get it out of here in the wind, so Garver, he got the win for us. And he called a great game too; he had a really good game.”
“I was looking for a ball over the middle of the plate, something I could handle, something I could get my hands to,” Garver said. “He threw me a cutter over the middle of the plate and I stayed on it.”
The fans who braved out the terrible weather conditions were rewarded with Rochester’s 26th win of the season. The team will look for a return to .500 on Wednesday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 p.m.
Mother Nature figures to be kinder to the teams during the matinee. No one offered a better perspective on the unseasonably lousy night than Quade.
“Any of you ever been as miserable on June 6 in your life?” Quade said. “At least we got a win out of it. I’m not even sure we should’ve been playing the last two innings, glad no one on either team got hurt. That’s bad, and it’s one of those things, we needed to start (the game) and play it.
“I’m glad we don’t have another doubleheader, but man, that was ugly late.”