Wings trounced at home again

Taylor Motter starts a double play from his third base position in the first inning of Rochester’s 8-0 loss to the Indianapolis Indians. Offensively Motter had two doubles in three at bats and also walked once.

Photo courtesy of Caitie Ihrig, RedWingsBaseball.com

ROCHESTER – Frontier Field can’t be called a House of Horrors for the Rochester Red Wings, but it is getting close. The Wings (playing Thursday as the Rochester Plates) lost for the 18th time in 28 home games this season. The team holds the worst home winning percentage in the International League.

Over a long season, Red Wings … er Plates … manager Joel Skinner said such records will eventually even out. Rochester’s 18-9 road record is the best of any IL team through the first seven days of June. There is no explanation for the imbalance said Skinner. “Once the National Anthem ends, you go out and play the game of baseball.”

Thursday the Indianapolis Indians completed a three-game sweep at their franchise fun house, blanking the homestanding Plates, 8-0. The result was never in doubt as starting and winning pitcher J.T. Brubaker went six innings, allowing five hits, walking four and striking out four. The win was a season high fifth consecutive for the Indians, top farm team of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Plates lost their fourth straight after winning four of five games on their recent road trip (with the final game rained out).

Rochester native Chris Bostick stuck it to his hometown team Thursday afternoon, recording three hits in four at-bats and walking once. Bostick scored twice for the Indians, including a third-inning lead-off home run that carried an estimated 414 feet. The ball was clocked at 105 mph off his bat. His run at that point had increased the Indy lead to 4-0.

Plates starter and losing pitcher Dietrich Enns dropped his sixth game in 10 decisions. He was in trouble from the start, giving up a first pitch double to Kevin Newman to start the game and then issuing a pass to Bostick. Enns escaped the first without any damage when Jordan Luplow flied out to centerfielder Zack Granite. Jose Osuna (entering the game with a batting average of .336) grounded into a double play, started by new Rochester third baseman Taylor Motter, to finish the threat.

However, the league-leading batting of the Indians were just getting started.

Hitting in the fifth spot, Kevin Kramer walked to start the second inning. He came around to score on a double by Wyatt Mathisen. Max Moroff followed with a 406-foot homer to left center. That hit was recorded as 101 mph off the bat by StatCast. The inning could have been worse for Enns as he then walked the number eight hitter in Indy’s lineup. But Pablo Reyes was out on a popped-up bunt attempt snared by Plates catcher Wynston Sawyer and Newman grounded into another double play.

The Indians put the game out of reach in the fifth inning when four runs scored as 10 batters went to the plate. Newman led off by grounding out to Plates first-sacker Chris Carter. But Bostick followed with the first of three consecutive singles. He scored on Osuna’s only hit of the day after going to second on a Luplow single, one of three hits Luplow had during the game. After Kramer stuck out, Mathisen singled in two runs. That was the end of the day for Enns, who gave way to Jake Reed.

Reed did not have an answer for solving the question: “How to retire a third Indians batter?” He gave a pass to Moroff to load the bases and former Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway singled, picking up an RBI as Osuna scored. With the bases still loaded, Reed walked Reyes to bring home the fourth run. Newman who began the inning with a an unassisted out to Carter, ended it with a fly ball to Granite.

There was no more scoring as Wings reliever Alan Busenitz faced the minimum nine batters over the last three innings. He did give up one hit, a Bostick eighth-inning single. The Plates third double play of the day ended that inning. Busenitz was named the Plates “Player of the Game” as he struck out two in his three innings of work.

Rochester was limited to seven hits, though five went for extra bases. However, a horrid skein of 26 consecutive batters through the Indy series (27 failures in a row) failed to bring home a runner in scoring position. Motter was Rochester’s offensive leader, with two doubles in three times at bat, including a ninth inning leadoff double. He also walked once. Granite had a fifth-inning double, Nick Gordon tripled with two outs in the seventh, and Jake Cave doubled in the first.

The Plates put two runners on in the first inning, with Carter following Cave’s double with a walk. Cameron Rupp struck out to end the inning. In the fourth inning, the Plates had consecutive singles by Rupp and Sawyer, but Nick Buss struck out for the second out of the inning. Motter drew a walk to load the bases, with Taylor Featherston fanned to end that potential rally.

Rupp and Sawyer both walked leading off the sixth, but Buss flew out and Motter grounded into a double play as Rochester’s inability to hit with runners in scoring position started to reach laughable proportions. In the ninth, Motter doubled and Featherston walked. Granite and Gordon each flew out and Cave was struck out by Jesus Liranzo to end the game.

With the loss the Plates dropped to 28-27 while the Indians improved to 30-27. Indy moved ahead of Rochester in the wild card race by one-half game. The Indians have now won four series in the last six years at Frontier Field. Going back to 1988 and old Silver Stadium, Indianapolis is 41-49 in Rochester. But the franchise does love playing at Frontier, posting a 14-6 mark in the past six seasons.

Going into the 12:35 p.m. start Thursday, Indianapolis was leading the IL with a team batting average of .271. Rochester on the other hand, was a league worst .234.  The Wings/Plates do lead the league in one batting category – 24 sacrifice flies, four more than Pawtucket, Syracuse and Buffalo. Entering the series finale Thursday, Rochester stood second in pitching with a team ERA of 3.36. Lehigh Valley held the best team ERA, 3.33.

Wearing their “Plates” jerseys, Rochester is now 0-3 this season, 0-4 including the one game last season. A “plate” is a Rochester food item credited with being started at Nick Tahou’s Main Street location. Skipper Skinner said he has yet to have a “garbage plate” and said he’ll take the hit for his team’s failure to win when wearing the Plates shirt and cap.

“They just beat us,” he said after remarking he had yet to try a “plate”. “They swung the bats more effectively than us. They pitched more effectively than us.”

Rochester will try to improve on its 10-18 home record in the next three days with the Durham Bulls arriving in town. Scheduled to open the series for Rochester is Adalberto Mejia (1-1, 4.24 ERA) Friday against Yonny Chirinos (0-0, 5.40 ERA). A starter has not been named for Saturday’s game, which like the previous night is a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. Forrest Snow is slated to go for the Bulls. He has a record of 2-4 and a 4.35 ERA. Sunday Zack Littell gets the ball for the Wings as he will try to improve his record of 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA. No opponent has been named to start that 1:05 p.m. game. Rochester leaves afterward for a visit to Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

WINGS TIPS – Thursday’s early start drew an announced paid attendance of 4,798. Rochester entered the game standing ninth in attendance through 25 starts with an average of 5,159. Attendance at Wednesday’s 7-2 Indianapolis win was 4,757.

Wednesday the Wings announced the release of infielder Jermaine Curtis and the return of Littell from the Minnesota Twins.  During Thursday’s game it was announced pitcher Trevor May was activated from the injured reserve list. At the same time hurler Omar Bencomo was sent back to AA Chattanooga’s Lookouts.

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