PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Backed by a pair of home runs, Pawtucket Red Sox starter Marcus Walden continued his excellent season with a six-inning gem in the PawSox’ 3-2 win over the Buffalo Bisons on Sunday afternoon at McCoy Stadium.
With home runs in the second and fourth innings, the PawSox (30-28) provided enough support for Walden and toppled the Bisons (32-29) to take three of four in the series. Pawtucket has won 14 of its last 18 games.
“We knew today was going to be a bullpen day,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. “We were hoping maybe we could get five innings out of him. And he gave us six. This is some of the hottest weather that we’ve had, but he looked fresh the whole time. … He’s been great all year.”
Walden (W, 6-2) only allowed two hits in his six innings — a single from former Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the second and an infield single in the sixth — and didn’t issue a walk. The 28-year old has now posted a 1.88 ERA in his eight starts this season and lowered his overall ERA to 2.01. Walden, who signed with the Red Sox in the offseason, now again qualifies among the International League’s top pitchers and ranks third in ERA. Among pitchers who’ve worked at least 40 innings this season, Walden has deployed his heavy sinker and posted the second-highest groundball rate in the league (56%).
“We’ve seen him for years,” Boles said. “He’s a guy that pitches to ground-ball contact. He was usually about 92-93 [MPH]. We’re starting to see him touch 94, 95, 96 depending on which gun you read. In spring training he wasn’t throwing a lot of strikes. It didn’t look like he had his real good command. I think now he’s trusting that he can just throw it and let the life play. He’s definitely doing that. He’s been doing it all year.”
Pawtucket reliever Kyle Martin allowed a run in two innings, and fellow righty Austin Maddox (S, 1) tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his first Triple-A save.
Buffalo starter Luis Santos (L, 2-5) gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings.
Buffalo started the scoring in the second when, with runners at the corners, catcher Raffy Lopez lifted a sacrifice fly to center to plate third baseman Jason Leblebijian and make it 1-0.
Pawtucket promptly tied the game moments later when left fielder Bryce Brentz led off the home half by demolishing a solo shot to right field.
Two innings later, first baseman Steve Selsky followed suit and lofted a solo shot near the right-field pole, pushing Pawtucket ahead 2-1.
The PawSox tacked on another run in the sixth when shortstop Mike Miller reeled in Brentz from second with an RBI single to left.
Following their seven-game homestand and Monday’s scheduled off day, the PawSox hit the road and start a four-game series at Syracuse on Tuesday. Game one of Tuesday’s doubleheader begins at 5:05 p.m. with left-hander Henry Owens (4-4, 3.88) on the hill to start the double-dip.