By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
The Rochester Red Wings avoided dubious history in their doubleheader defeat to Syracuse on Saturday night but played a forgettable 14 innings nonetheless.
Franklyn Kilome was an out away from recording a seven-inning no-hitter in Game 2 when Tres Barrera looped a line drive into right field for Rochester’s first hit. Kilome proceeded to strike out Rafael Bautista for the final out, preserving the 2-0 shutout.
The Mets, who thumped the Red Wings 10-1 in Game 1, collected 21 hits over two games to Rochester’s seven. The Red Wings can only salvage a split of the weeklong series on Sunday afternoon. Kilome put just three Wings batters on base, walking a pair.
One start removed from allowing six runs, walking four and hitting two batsmen in a loss to Lehigh Valley, the right-hander struck out seven and induced seven groundouts. He threw 65 of his 101 pitches for strikes, fanning Bautista and Brandon Snyder twice.
Ben Braymer threw five respectable innings for Rochester, surrendering just two runs on six hits, but took the loss.
“(Kilome) mixed it up pretty well,” Red Wings manager Matthew LeCroy assessed. “His fastball was 91 to 92 (miles per hour) and he threw some decent little sliders and changeups. We just really couldn’t find the barrel off him. He did a nice job, but we didn’t really get in good position. We chased a little bit at times and didn’t hit as many balls on the barrel, so tough night all around.”
Syracuse batters feasted on Red Wing pitching in Game 1, rapping 14 base hits and working four walks. The most consequential walk might have been the one Mets infielder Cody Bohanek received intentionally to load the bases, a result of pitcher Thomas Szapucki standing on deck. Szapucki struck out swinging, but Mason Williams hit a grand slam two pitches later.
Williams recorded a hit in all three of his Game 1 at bats. The homer put the game out of reach, extending Syracuse’s lead to 8-1. Red Wings starter Tyler Eppler bore the brunt of the Met barrage, allowing 10 runs on 10 hits in 3.1 innings. Called upon to eat some innings in a blowout situation, he couldn’t make it through the fourth.
“Eppler just wasn’t hitting his spots,” LeCroy remarked. “The ball was elevated at times; his breaking stuff didn’t have much finish to it. They took advantage of it, made him pay.”
If the Red Wings gleaned anything from the evening, it was more looks at major league pitching. New York Mets veteran Seth Lugo, on what the National League East leaders hope is the last leg of his rehab assignment from an elbow injury, threw a scoreless seventh inning in Syracuse’s Game 1 victory. Rochester did, however, manage three baserunners in a rare bright spot.
Adrián Sanchez and Jake Noll combined to go 5-for-8 in Game 1; Sanchez improved his batting average to .326. Neither half of the shortstop-second base duo could continue the hot hitting in the second game.
LeCroy and hitting coach Brian Daubach continue to stress approach, positioning and consistency at the plate. Nearly getting no-hit showed that the success Rochester had against Syracuse on Wednesday and Thursday, scoring 16 runs in a two-game stretch, is still difficult to replicate.
“We lost Game 1, got beat pretty badly, and not to respond in Game 2 was disappointing,” LeCroy said. “We’ve gotta be better tomorrow.”