In one of the strangest games of the season the Red Wings caught every break imaginable in beating Buffalo 5-3, in, yes, you guessed it...extra innings. This one took 14 innings and a lot of help from the umpires, but the win was very sweet indeed. Not only did it up the Wings extraordinary extra inning record to 17-3, it gave the Wings their 37th road win, marking the first time since 1993 that Rochester finishes with a winning road record.
The victory also eliminated Ottawa, the more than pesky Buffalo Bisons, and Louisville from wild card contention. Louisville however still has a chance to win the IL West. Toledo and Indianapolis are tied for first in the West, 1 ½ games ahead of Louisville and 3 behind the Red Wings with 4 games to play, weather permitting. Scranton lost to Syracuse in 15 innings so the Wings flickering hopes to overtake the Red Barons are still alive.
Rochester’s final 4 games will be played at Frontier Field. Friday and Saturday against the Bisons and Sunday and Monday against Scranton. Heavy rain is in the forecast for at least Saturday, so the Wings could very well lose one game to the weather.
Indianapolis and Louisville will play their final 4 games against each other, while Toledo will take on Columbus. Naturally, the Wings would hope that everybody splits, thus ensuring that Rochester will be in the post season for the first time since they won the Governors Cup against Columbus in 1997.
Buffalo took an early lead tonite in the 2nd on the 22nd HR of the year by DuBois. But Rochester tied it in the 4th when Garrett Jones hammered his 20th HR of the season and his 91st RBI. Wings took the lead in the 6th on an RBI grounder by Heintz. Starter Pete Munro pitched well for 5 1/3 innings, giving up only 1 run and 4 hits. Beau Kemp relieved and for the 3rd straight game, he blew the lead as the Bisons tied the game at 2-2 in the 8th.
The game remained tied, but it had its moments. In the bottom of the 10th, with Bobby Korecky pitching the Bisons put the winning run on 3rd with one out but failed to score. Then the Wings scratched out a run in the 11th on a bases loaded walk to Tommy Watkins. They couldn’t hold the lead as Buffalo roared back quickly against Korecky to tie in the bottom of the 11th. , 3rd base ump Jamie Roebuck totally blew a call against Bison’s Ben Francisco with one out in the 12th. Francisco hit a sinking liner to center that replays clearly showed Andres Torres trapping. Instead of a runner at 1st with one out, there were 2 outs and bases empty. That ultimately precipitated a mini bench clearing melee as both managers started jawing nose to nose.
Wings made some changes in the 11th and cost them their DH. Kevin Cameron came on to pitch in the 12th and had to bat for himself to lead off the 13th. It was the first time a Wings pitcher had batted in several seasons. Cameron fanned on 3 pitches.
In the bottom of the 13th Bison pitcher Jason Stanford was ejected from the game for continuing the squabbling about the blown call in center. Wings went back to work in the 14th. With one out Watkins and Rabe drew walks and Garrett Jones reached on a fielders choice when the Bisons failed to get Rabe at 2nd. With the bases loaded Terry Tiffee delivered a huge 2 run single to give the Wings the lead back at 5-3.
In the last of the 14th, Cabrera led off with a single. Tim Laker fanned, but then Franklin Guttierez hit a soft grounder to Watkins at short, who flipped to Maza for the force, but Maza dropped the ball. Umpire Roebuck called Cabrera out, saying that Maza dropped the ball as he was transferring it to throw to first. Replays showed that Maza never had control of the ball and the Wings caught yet another break. One pitch later Ben Francisco grounded out to end the game.
This was a game that the Wings outhit Buffalo 15-12 and it was a game the Wings could not afford to lose. And they didn’t. So now their playoff chances have brightened considerably. The question is, who will still be around when they return home Friday night. Scott Baker was scheduled to start but now its anyone’s guess who will get that assignment.
All the Wings do know is one more win will pretty much seal the deal. The bullpen is dead tired. And they are down one starter. The rain is coming. The Twins will be a-calling. But they soldier on.