Wright, Vasquez Rehab in Pawtucket, PawSox Lose to Lehigh
In his first game action in more than two months, Steven Wright cruised through two innings while throwing to catcher Christian Vazquez, though the pair of Red Sox rehabbers and the Pawtucket Red Sox fell to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 9-3, on Tuesday night at McCoy Stadium.
Playing for the final scheduled time in 2018 as Los Osos Polares de Pawtucket, the PawSox (64-69) tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Lehigh Valley (80-54) capitalized on a pair of ninth-inning errors, scored six runs in the frame and claimed the opener of the three-game series.
Wright allowed just one baserunner (on a walk) in two sharp innings that were punctuated when he got a swinging strikeout on a knuckleball to end his evening. The 33-year-old right-hander, who last pitched for the Red Sox on June 22 before landing on the disabled list four days later with left knee inflammation, threw 20 of his 31 pitches for strikes.
"It felt pretty good," Wright said. "It was nice to get back out there today; it’s been a while. Just trying to get back into the rhythm of game intensity and stuff, and today was a huge step in the right direction.
"That’s the biggest thing is to try not to think about it at all. I felt really good earlier in the season when I came back, and then toward the end it just started to kind of bother me. So it’s like, you start thinking about it and you forgot about trying to just execute a pitch. Today I really wasn’t thinking about it. I still have some mechanical stuff I gotta work on, but that just comes with repetition."
In his second rehab game in as many nights – and his first with Pawtucket – Vazquez played six innings behind the plate and went 0-for-3 with a flyout to the right-field warning track and two groundballs to shortstop. On Monday with Double-A Portland, Vazquez went 1-for-2 with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly. The 28-year-old catcher from Puerto Rico has been on Boston’s disabled list since July 8 after he fractured his right pinky finger against Kansas City.
Pawtucket leadoff man and shortstop Mike Miller went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored and two runs driven in, boosting his average to .290 and OPS to .717. For the last two months, Miller has the best average in all of affiliated baseball (Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball). Dating back to June 29 (his last 40 games), Miller has hit .396, just ahead of White Sox super-prospect Eloy Jiménez (.394).
Pawtucket right-hander Josh A. Smith followed Wright and struck out a season-high nine in five innings of three-run ball. Marcus Walden (L, 0-4) then took over and impressed in a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts against the heart of Lehigh Valley’s order before a pair of Pawtucket errors in the ninth saddled him with a hard-luck loss. In his last six outings, Walden has only allowed one earned run in 10 innings.
Lehigh Valley righty Ben Lively (W, 3-2) fanned four in two scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Pawtucket started the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when Miller tucked a leadoff double down the right-field line and later scored on a Lehigh Valley error.
The IronPigs tied the game, 1-1, in the top of the third inning on an RBI double from No. 9 hitter and catcher Logan Moore.
The PawSox jumped in front, 2-1, on consecutive doubles from right fielder Aneury Tavarez and Miller to begin the frame.
With three singles in their first four at-bats of the fourth inning, however, the IronPigs leveled the score again.
In the top of the seventh inning, Lehigh Valley snatched their first lead, 3-2, on a bloop RBI single from shortstop J.P. Crawford.
Pawtucket loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, and Miller scorched a sacrifice fly on a line to center to plate second baseman Iván De Jesús Jr. and tie the game.
The PawSox committed two errors in the top of the ninth inning, and Lehigh Valley capitalized with six unearned runs to snatch an 8-3 advantage.
The PawSox continue their three-game series against the IronPigs on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. Pawtucket right-hander Mike Shawaryn (2-1, 4.32) is scheduled to start opposite IronPigs righty Enyel De Los Santos (10-4, 2.43). Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM and 104.7 FM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the pre-game show at 6:35 p.m.