It took 15 innings and a catcher on the mound, but the Buffalo Bisons were finally able to beat the PawSox in the finale of their season-opening 4-game series.
The game would have ended much earlier if not for a phenominal performance by the Pawtucket bullpen as Jose Vaquedano, Billy Traber, Daniel Bard, Hunter Jones, Marcus McBeth, and Fernando Cabrera combined to pitch 10.1 scoreless innings while only allowing 4 hits.
Unfortunately, the final member of the pen — Devern Hansack — is nursing a sore back and Manager Ron Johnson had to turn to reserve catcher Carlos Maldonado to pitch the 15th inning.
Taking the mound for just the 2nd time in a 14-year pro career, Maldonado promptly walked Fernando Martinez before allowing a HR to Nick Evans, as Buffalo won 4-2.
The game brought to mind a memorable gaffe in my first week on the job as a PawSox announcer. On April 12, 2006, the PawSox seventh game of the season lasted 16 innings against Rochester. After playing a doubleheader three days earlier, the bullpen was spent so RJ had to send third baseman Rodney Nye to the mound in the 12th inning.
Over the next two innings he proceeded to dazzle the Red Wings with pitches that floated in so slowly that we figured he had to be throwing a knuckleball — especially when he struck out two Rochester batters! People listening to the broadcast that night must have thought the second coming of Phil Niekro was on the mound for Pawtucket as we described Nye’s unhittable knuckler.
Imagine my surprise when I approached Rodney after the game and he began laughing hysterically when I asked him about his knuckleball. As it turned out, he was just lobbing the ball over the plate hoping the Red Wings would hit it at someone.
Don’t you hate when the facts get in the way of a good story?
After Nye’s 2-inning stint, left fielder Trent Durrington took the mound and also pitched a pair of scoreless innings. Fortunately, he was throwing the ball hard enough that we couldn’t possibly mistake his pitches for a knuckler.
Finally, in the top of the 16th, Durrington allowed a 2-out RBI single to Jason Tyner and Rochester won the game 4-3.
By the way, that 16-inning game isn’t the longest one I’ve ever called. In 1985, my first season as a baseball broadcaster, I called 21-inning and 27-inning games nine days apart.
I’ve appreciated the availability of coffee in the press box every since.
On Monday night the PawSox open a 4-game series in Rochester as Charlie Zink, the International League’s Pitcher of the Year in 2008, takes the mound for the first time this season. I hope you’ll join Steve Hyder and me for the call beginning at 6:20 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.
Speaking of Hyder, he finally fell short in our 7th-inning “Stump Steve” contest.
We played a game called “The List” where Steve has to name all (or most) of the names on a list depending on its length.
Since Clay Buchholz started the game for Pawtucket, here was the question: Name the five MLB pitchers who have thrown no-hitters in the last two years?
In this case, Steve had to get all five to be a winner, with no more than one incorrect guess.
The correct answers are Buchholz, Jon Lester, Justin Verlander, Carlos Zambrano, and Mark Buehrle.
Steve got the first three, but missed the last two. His record is 3-1 this season — just like the PawSox.
A trip to Rochester means a stop at the Dinosaur BBQ for lunch. I know gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, but every now and then it’s unavoidable.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.