By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
Steven Fuentes’s throw took Mike Ford off first base and into an inadvertent tackle from 6-foot-5, 240-pound runner Gregory Polanco. Ford somersaulted from the impact while Polanco attended to his wrist, wincing. Cavan Biggio, meanwhile, took advantage of the miscue and crossed home plate.
Of the 20 runs the Buffalo Bisons posted on Wednesday night, that run-scoring error was most symbolic of Rochester’s unsightly performance. Polanco left the game after the collision but already had a double and home run, his second in as many nights, to his credit. Red Wing pitching was hit so hard that infielder Ali Castillo made his third pitching appearance of the season to conclude the three-hour, 49-minute slog.
The thumping marked the fourth time the Red Wings have allowed 10 or more runs before the fifth inning this season. They let up 11 over the first four frames and nine over the final four. Biggio, down in Triple-A on a rehab assignment, drove in five runs and scored four more. Likely league MVP Kevin Smith went 5-for-7 with four runs scored and a pair of RBI. The Bisons left 12 runners on base and still amassed a season-high scoring effort.
Rochester starting pitcher Steven Fuentes allowed nine earned runs on 12 hits, while Sterling Sharp and Nick Wells were tagged for four runs each before handing the ball to Castillo.
Lost in the rout was Tanner Rainey’s sterling fifth inning, when the righthander struck out the side for the second straight outing. The 28-year-old’s chances to return to Washington before season’s end are promising; he has not allowed a hit in three innings since coming off the injured list.
“I think he’s progressed very nicely, very quickly,” Red Wings manager Matt LeCroy said of Rainey, who missed nearly a month with a left side injury. “He’s able to repeat his delivery, so I’m really excited for his progress.”
As for Rainey’s odds of returning to the Washington roster before the regular season ends on Oct. 3, LeCroy said, “I’m sure they watched his outing tonight, so it won’t be long.”
It won’t be long for Buffalo to clinch the Triple-A East Division title, either. The Bisons are a win or Scranton/Wilkes-Barre defeat away from clinching the division crown.
Castillo, Victor Robles and Mike Ford each tallied multi-hit games for the Wings, who fell to 44-68.