Walks, situational hitting cost Red Wings in defeat

Photo Credit: Hanife Gundogdu/Rochester Red Wings

By CHUCKIE MAGGIO

The video board graphic is prominently displayed in left field whenever an opposing pitcher loses a batter to an inning-opening base-on-balls. “Walks will haunt,” it reads as cartoon ghosts roam a dark forest.

Walks haunted the home team on Thursday night, as the Rochester Red Wings gifted Buffalo seven free passes. Three of the Bisons’ four runs were scored by a player who reached on a walk, lifting them to a 4-2, ninth-inning victory in front of 3,830 fans at Frontier Field.

Walks have not been a glaring concern for Rochester’s pitching staff or bullpen; the Red Wings have pitched the eighth-fewest walks in Triple-A East, with 211 in 56 games. All four pitchers recorded at least one base-on-balls on Thursday, allowing as many walks as hits (seven each).

“You give away free bases, it usually comes back to haunt you, especially in big spots,” Red Wings manager Matt LeCroy. “You look at it, Ronny Peña gave up a walk, (Logan Warmoth) stole second, he ends up scoring. It’s a big part of the game. Everyone else, same way.

“Some guys are getting some opportunities to pitch in some high-leverage spots and hopefully they’ll step up. It’s an opportunity for these guys who didn’t pitch in these spots, with guys gone. Hopefully we’ll see better results.”

Former Red Wing Tommy Milone returned to Frontier Field for the first time since 2018, allowing two hits and surrendering the first run on a wild pitch that allowed Corban Joseph to score. He only threw two innings, after which the Bisons bullpen combined for seven innings of five-hit, one-run action.

Rochester did not lack opportunities in the low-scoring affair, scoring a couple walks of its own with two outs in the fourth and loading the bases with two outs in the sixth but failing to take advantage either time. While Jake Noll‘s leadoff triple and Daniel Palka‘s subsequent single to begin the sixth tied the contest at two, LeCroy pointed to the lack of situational, clutch hitting.

“Our situational baseball tonight on the offensive side was not good enough to win,” LeCroy assessed. “We had chances we didn’t take. They were playing back a couple times; we didn’t get (the runs) in. That’s how you’ve got to beat these teams.

“This team’s got good pitching. Any time you can get opportunities to score, especially in that capacity… you’ve gotta take advantage. We didn’t, and we paid for it.”

Ben Braymer, despite his three walks, registered his longest appearance since May and held the Bisons to two hits over four innings. The lefthander threw 35 of his 60 pitches for strikes and even displayed a formidable move to first when he picked off Cullen Large to effectively end his evening.

After carrying a 7.25 ERA at the end of May, Braymer has lowered that number to 6.06. LeCroy believes the 27-year-old is exerting as much effort as he can for his ball club, making his start one of Rochester’s bright spots on an otherwise ignominious night.

“I thought it was good, I really did,” LeCroy commented. “He had some life to his ball; his changeup was a really good pitch for him; he hit on a couple breaking balls but I like what his fastball was doing. He was out of gas there, which is a good sign for us. He really went after it for four innings and gave it all he had. It was good.”

Rochester hosts Buffalo again on Friday evening, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05.

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