By CHUCKIE MAGGIO The ball carried far enough to clear the wall at any other spot in the ballpark, far enough to send a message down the thruway to Sahlen Field that George Springer began Wednesday’s game by shrugging off Tuesday’s 0-fer.
Springer’s home run bid, however, found the triangle in left-center field- and Cody Wilson’s glove. It was a loud leadoff out and set the tone for Rochester’s apparent hex over the Bisons’ lineup.
The Red Wings recovered from a 14-1 thumping less than 24 hours prior to throw a combined two-hitter and shut out Buffalo 2-0. Winning pitcher Kyle Lobstein and closer Dakota Bacus combined to retire 13 of the last 14 Bison hitters, the back end of a “bullpen game” that saw none of Rochester’s four pitchers throw over 38 pitches.
Springer snapped an 0-for-7 start to a rehab assignment for his quadriceps by singling to left field in the ninth. Christian Colón, who singled in the fourth, was the only other Bison to earn a hit.
Daniel Palka fared better than the 2017 World Series MVP, launching a Nate Pearson fastball over the signage atop the Red Wings bullpen to put Rochester ahead in the second inning. The Red Wings are now 6-2 when Palka hits a home runs this season. He has hit nine homers and owns an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of 1.012.
The Red Wings collected just three hits, but two of them went for extra bases. Buffalo’s two hits were both singles. The Washington Nationals designated right-handed pitcher Rogelio Armenteros for assignment on Monday, leaving Wings manager Matthew LeCroy and his staff to map out the nine-inning bullpen outing.
Sean Nolin started, allowed no more than 40 pitches, and threw 2.2 hitless innings, striking out five. Alberto Baldonado allowed just a hit and a walk in his 2.1 innings before handing the ball to Lobstein and Bacus, who combined for four innings of one-hit ball.
“That was a gutsy performance from our bullpen. Much needed,” LeCroy said. “With Armenteros being designated there was a spot open there; we had to cover his game. And man, all of these guys did a nice job tonight.”
Springer flew out to center twice and was called out on strikes on an inside pitch in the sixth before recording his first hit in a Bisons uniform.
He faced jeers from a handful of the 2,304 fans in attendance for his involvement in the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal (Springer played for the Astros from 2014 to 2020), but Lobstein remarked that facing the three-time All-Star “makes it fun.”
“You try not to treat it anything other than a regular at bat,” Lobstein said. “Obviously he’s a big name in baseball, so everyone knows him… It makes it fun to see that competition, and I’m sure at the same time he’s trying to see as much competition on a high intensity level as well, trying to get back into the swing of things.”
“I think the guys gear up for those guys that come down on rehab,” LeCroy noted. “So far we’ve done a pretty good job limiting any kind of damage (Springer)’s been doing.”