There was a lot going on in RochesterTown today. The Empire State Games opened at Paetec Park, where over 6,000 athletes from all over New York State will participate. Our local morning sports show host Brad Davies bid farewell to Rochester after 5 ½ years to accept a job in Houston, the nations’ seventh largest sports market. And Jason McElwain, the autistic kid who poured in 20 points in the final 4 minutes of his teams’ final basketball game and won himself an ESPY and a huge movie contract, threw out the first pitch in tonight’s Red Wings game. They even gave away 3,500 of his bobbleheads.
Oh yes, the ballgame. The Red Wings, fresh off that incredible 1-0 win last night had to face the International League’s top pitcher Heath Phillips, who came in with a 12-3 record, 2.15 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 125 innings. He was opposed by Pete Munro, the hot and cold Wing workhorse with a 6-10 record.
Both teams scored a run in the second inning before they settled in for a pitchers duel. Then the Wings went to work in the bottom of the sixth. Unleashing a five-hit attack, they drove Phillips to cover with a four-run outburst to take command 5-1. RBI hits from Garrett Jones, Quinton McCracken and Alexander Romero led the way. McCracken’s run scoring double was his first Red Wing hit. Romero had three hits, two doubles and 3 RBI, as he continues to be the Wings’ most improved player in the month of July.
Kevin Cameron took over for Munro in the seventh and pitched three scoreless innings of two-hit baseball to earn his sixth save. Munro gets credit for his seventh win.
The Red Wings currently have only ten pitchers and 12 position players on their active roster.
Ricky Barrett was placed on the 15 day DL earlier in the day.
Some have questioned why manager Stan Cliburn let Matt Garza throw so many pitches yesterday and the answer in part lies with the fact that the Wings’ bullpen is overworked and undermanned, plus the team doesn’t really have five starters. Henry Bonilla made an emergency start a few games ago because there was no one else. Matt Ford has made a couple of spot starts as well, but he too is hurt right now.
With the victory, the Wings remain two games ahead of Scranton, who also won Wednesday. Interestingly, they now only trail Charlotte by 3.5 games for the overall league lead, the closest they have been to the Knights since the first month of the season. At 61-45 they are only one game under their high water mark of 17 over .500. Quite incredible considering the patchwork team they have paraded out there over the past month.
Thursday’s game starts at 11:05 AM–a businessman’s special. Jason Miller (2-4) will make his ninth start for the Wings. Friday night will close out the home-stand with an outstanding pitching matchup, as Mike Smith (9-4) goes for the Wings and Churchville, NY native and hometown boy, Tim Redding will pitch for the Knights.
Rumor Mill Grist:Local sports show talk host Bob Matthews said tonite that he thinks Matt Garza will be called up soon.Wings brass speculating that Josh Rabe and Willie Eyre will be coming down soon.Twins saying that they may want Lew Ford to spend a little rehab time in the minors before rejoining the Twins.Gil Velazquez making a speedier than expected recovery may be ready to rejoin the Wings on Aug 1st. Certainly good news.