The Rochester Red Wings finished off the first half of their season on Sunday with a 13-7 loss against the Omaha Storm Chasers, as a deep early hole was erased bit-by-bit over the game only for the Wings to again fall behind for good in the ninth after another big Omaha inning.
The first half-inning of the game was a nightmare for the Wings. Carson Teel, making an emergency start after travel problems prevented a rehabbing Josh Rogers from starting, was jumped on early and often by Omaha’s hitters. Five of the first six Storm Chasers to come to the plate would reach base, culminating in a one-out grand slam by Angelo Castellano that was followed up on the very next pitch by a solo shot to right by John Rave. Omaha would score an additional run off Teel’s replacement, Jefry Rodriguez, to make it 6-0 after just a half-inning.
After that, though, the Red Wings would scrap their way back into the game as the Wings bullpen prevented any further scoring by Omaha for the next seven innings. Rodriguez, Luis Avilan, Matt Brill, a rehabbing Victor Arano, Matt Cronin, and Curtis Taylor would ultimately give up just one hit and one hit-batsmen in innings two-through-eight.
“We battled back,” said manager Matt LeCroy post-game. “We did a nice job staying in the ballgame. I thought Jefry did a nice job keeping us in it [with fellow pitchers] Avilan, Cronin, Brilly, and Taylor.”
The comeback would start in the bottom of the first, as Joey Meneses slammed a one-out two-run home run just to the left of the left-field scoreboard for his 18th on the season. Meneses would strike again in the third, singling home Andrew Stevenson before himself scoring later on a Jake Noll groundout. Stevenson would also come home to score in the fifth on a Josh Palacios infield single. That single by Palacios extended his hit streak to 11 and his on-base streak to 24.
Finally, in the eighth, the Wings would tie it at six, as Meneses sent it the other way into the Red Wings bullpen to lead off the inning. It was his 19th of the year.
Omaha’s hitting returned with a vengeance in the ninth inning, though, to put the game back out of reach with a seven-run explosion off Patrick Murphy and Andrew Lee. While the Wings would get one run back in the final frame courtesy of Jecksson Flores’ first home run of the year, that wouldn’t be nearly enough as they fell 13-7.
“Murphy’s been really good, but he struggled there a bit,” said LeCroy.
The first half of the season was ultimately one of ups and downs for the Red Wings. At one point, they were 16 games over .500 and safely in first in the International League East. On the other hand, the team went through a grueling eight-game losing streak in June against St. Paul and Scranton. Ultimately, this finished the first part of their season at 47-43, 1.5 games back of first in the division.
LeCroy remains confident in his team despite the difficult ending of the first half.
“I feel good about it, we’re right in the front of this thing, [but] we just gotta be better,” said LeCroy. “Guys are getting opportunities that didn’t have opportunities early in the season to show people what they can do, and they’re playing for something. That’s the goal: we want to play meaningful baseball for the rest of the second half.”
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but it should be fun, but they gotta go home, get rested up, and get ready to get back to work and try to win this thing.”
After the All-Star break, the Red Wings will resume their season on Friday for the start of a three-game series against Buffalo. The Red Wings will return to Frontier Field on July 26, when Twins-era great Justin Morneau and longtime sportswriter Jim Mandelaro will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.