By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
Ryan Howard climbed the minor league ranks in short order in the early 2000s, mere weeks away from making his major league debut when the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons visited Rochester on Aug. 15, 2004.
Before the future National League MVP and World Series champion donned a Phillies uniform, however, he was a Triple-A rookie who made a rookie mistake.
Rochester, reeling from 14 losses in 19 games, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre were tied at two in the ninth inning when Howard opened the frame with a ground-rule double to left but failed to touch first base.
Red Wings coach Rich Miller caught the blunder and notified manager Phil Roof, who appealed the play. The umpires huddled, concurred with Miller and called Howard out. The double became a 1-3 putout and galvanized Rochester as Todd Dunwoody lined a walk-off double in the 11th to give the Red Wings a 3-2 victory.
“The bag is there to be touched, and that’s all I have to say,” Red Barons manager Marc Bombard remarked to the Democrat and Chronicle of the play, which Scranton/Wilkes-Barre didn’t protest despite Howard’s insistence. “It’s the first time it hasn’t been touched in my eight years.
“It’s a tough lesson to learn, because the game is probably over at that point.”
The baserunning miscue compounded a similar incident in the eighth, when Red Barons designated hitter Mark Smith found the right field corner with Shawn Wooten on first.
Bombard sent Wooten around third base when right fielder Jason Kubel threw to second instead of home, but second baseman Luis Rodriguez made the relay throw home and cut Wooten down by several feet.
The Red Barons’ missed opportunities cost them in the 11th. Terry Tiffee’s one-out single put the winning run on base and Michael Ryan moved him over with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
Dunwoody, one of five Red Wing regulars who finished the season batting above .300, laced a two-out, two-strike cut fastball from Jim Crowell down the left field line to end the contest on Bay City Rollers Night. The extra-inning affair lasted an unheard of two hours and 57 minutes.
Rochester shaved Scranton’s wild card lead to four games, keying an eventual leap over Scranton in the standings and a narrow playoff miss.
“It’s a huge win,” Dunwoody commented. “We need to get our morale back to where it was a few weeks ago.”
|Red Wings 3, Red Barons 2 (11)|
|Budzinski cf||5||0||0||0||Bartlett ss||5||0||1||0|
|Ozuna ss||5||1||1||0||Rodriguez 2b||5||0||1||0|
|Wooten 3b||5||0||3||0||Kubel rf||5||0||0||0|
|Smith dh||5||0||1||1||West dh||5||1||1||1|
|Howard 1b||2||0||0||0||Restovich lf||4||0||1||0|
|Hannahan pr/2b||1||0||0||0||Tiffee 3b||5||1||2||0|
|Rushford lf||4||1||2||1||Rabe cf||3||0||0||0|
|Roberge 2b/1b||4||0||0||0||Ryan ph/cf||1||0||0||0|
|Hernandez c||4||0||0||0||Prieto 1b||3||1||1||1|
|Padilla rf||4||0||1||0||Dunwoody 1b||1||0||1||1|
|Scranton||0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 – 2|
|Rochester||0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 – 3|
|E – Tiffee (12). DP – Rochester (1). LOB – Scranton 6, Rochester 9. 2B – Wooten (12), Smith (28), Rodriguez (31), Tiffee (20), Dunwoody (19). HR – Rushford (5), West, Prieto (5). CS – Padilla (7).
WP- Geary Time- 2:57 Attendance- 7,353
Also on this day: Bob Milacki allowed just three hits and one earned run as the Red Wings defeated Toledo 2-1 in 1988.