By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
The Rochester Red Wings flipped the script on Buffalo during Sunday’s series finale.
Rochester answered a sloppy 13-0 loss in Game 2 of Saturday night’s doubleheader with a resounding 11-2 victory less than 24 hours later. The Red Wings won their second consecutive series and extended their International League East lead over the second-place Bisons to 3.5 games.
Cole Henry, the Washington Nationals’ No. 3 prospect, earned the win in his Triple-A debut. The 2020 second round pick shut out the Bisons over his five innings, retiring five of the last six batters he faced. He scattered three hits and a walk, striking out three batsmen.
“I tell you, that was pretty special today from Mr. Henry,” Red Wings manager Matt LeCroy remarked. “First Triple-A outing against a really, really good opponent, he had a really good mix. He really established his fastball and set up the secondary for some swings and misses. Gotta be excited.
“I’m really happy that he’s here and part of this club. Hopefully he can continue to grow and build on what he did today. I’m really, really happy for him.”
Henry required just nine pitches to set the Bisons down in order in the first inning and benefited from a six-run cushion by the time he left the dugout for the second. Taylor Gushue and Adrian Sanchez each hit their first home runs of the season, both two-run shots, while Jake Noll tripled and Andrew Stevenson and Joey Meneses recorded singles.
A wire-to-wire ballgame ensued. Stevenson lifted a three-run home run in the sixth, part of a 3-for-4 day in which he fell a triple short of the cycle. Sanchez and Ehire Adrianza each collected a pair of base hits. All nine Red Wings batters registered either a hit, run or RBI.
Rochester batted 6-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left just one runner on base. The Red Wings scored 11 runs on 11 hits.
Stevenson now has at least one three-hit game in each of the first three months of the season. The team is 4-1 when he hits safely three or more times.
“He’s got value for us and for our organization. He was on our World Series team,” LeCroy acknowledged. “He’s been around, a veteran-type guy, but he can do a little bit of everything: he can bunt; he can hit a ball out of the stadium if you make a mistake. But he plays the game right. That’s what I love about Stevie: I don’t worry about effort; I don’t worry about the way he prepares before each game. He’s just a pro, and he’s a winner.
“Any time you can get a guy with that type of athletic ability that’s a winning player and put them up at the top, he can make a lot of things happen.”
The week-long series concluded the Bisons’ road trips to Rochester this season. Buffalo went 5-7 at Frontier Field this season and is 26-15 everywhere else.
Henry undoubtedly provides more punch in the Rochester rotation. The 22-year-old surrendered just five hits and two earned runs in 23.2 innings at Double-A and now holds a 0.63 ERA in eight appearances this year.
“For me, the game doesn’t change any,” Henry noted of his mindset. “The hitters might be a little older, have more experience but at the end of the day, I’ve just gotta go out there and fire strikes in the zone and see what they can do with it.”
Henry threw 36 of his 57 pitches for strikes. Buffalo did convert any contact into extra bases until he had already left the game.
“I’m kind of on a short leash right now, with an innings limit,” Henry explained, “so eating up five innings for the bullpen is huge. I’ve only gone four, most of the year, so getting that fifth inning under my belt felt good.”