56 runs in six games: Rochester Red Wings pile up huge stats in road trip
There was a two-game stretch near the end of the Rochester Red Wings’ first homestand which wrapped on May 30 where it looked like their slumbering bats were finally starting to wake up.
The Wings put up back-to-back 7-4 and 9-8 victories over Syracuse, and infielder Jake Noll, who hit a grand slam in the second game, said, “We're starting to get a lot of guys on which we didn't before. And we haven't had the big, hit but we’re starting to come through. Hopefully we can get on a good winning streak here.”
It did not happen. The Wings lost the last three games to the Mets and scored just one run on 11 hits in the process, nearly getting no-hit in one seven-inning game. Thus, when they hit the road to play Worcester last week and Lehigh Valley this week, they did so with the worst record in Triple-A East at 6-18.
Red Wings score in bunches
However, the first leg of the trip turned out to be the best week of the Wings’ disappointing season as they took four of six against the Red Sox and erupted for 56 runs.
It was a stunning turnaround for a team that was hitting under .200 when it bused its way to Massachusetts, and now the Wings’ team batting average has jumped all the way to .240 which is 11th in the 20-team league.
Before scoring 56 runs in the six games last week, the Wings had scored just 59 runs in the 18 games prior which covered the complete six-game series’ against Buffalo on the road and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Syracuse at Frontier Field.
The 56 runs and 71 hits were the most among all 120 Minor League Baseball teams last week and the Wings 16 home runs were tied with Triple-A West Omaha for the most among all MILB teams.
Noll acknowledged how frustrating it had been for the Wings, and he pointed to the upheaval the pandemic caused in 2020 when there was no minor league baseball, meaning most players did not play competitively, a few worked out at alternate sites, and even fewer spent time in the major leagues.
“A lot of guys here didn't play at all last year, and none of us really played every single day,” Noll said. “So, it's tough coming back and then not being able to play, but we'll get it going.”
Last week began with a 6-4 victory in Worcester as Carter Kieboom hit a sixth-inning grand slam to back a strong outing from starting pitcher Jefry Rodriquez who gave up one run on two hits while striking out eight.
On Wednesday, the Wings exploded for 22 hits in an 18-5 blowout of the Red Sox. They scored in each of the first five innings, seven runs coming in the fifth inning. Rochester hit five home runs, the first time that had happened since April 13, 2019 vs. Lehigh Valley, and the first time on the road since July 28, 2016 at Pawtucket.
Daniel Palka hit two of the homers and drove in five runs while Luis Garcia homered and drove in five. Garcia, Kieboom, Palka and Brandon Snyder each had three hits while Humberto Artaega had four.
The Wings dropped the middle two games, 3-1 and 12-1, but then rebounded with more offensive fireworks over the weekend as they pummeled the Red Sox 18-1 and 12-5.
Eight consecutive hits, three home runs to start weekend game
In that 18-1 victory, the Wings again rapped out 22 hits, and in this one, the first eight men reached via a hit and all eight scored. The last three of the hits were home runs by Snyder, Rafael Bautista and Blake Swihart. The last time the Wings hit three consecutive home runs was May 13, 2014 against Columbus, and the opposing pitcher was Trevor Bauer. Yes, that Trevor Bauer.
Interestingly, the Major League Baseball record for consecutive hits to start a game is also eight, last accomplished by the Wings’ former parent team, the Twins, in 2011, and all eight players had once played for the Wings.
Sunday, the Wings secured their first series victory of the season with the 12-5 rout which saw the Wings rally from a 5-3 deficit after the second inning with two runs in the fifth, four in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
Garcia capped a spectacular week with three more hits including his seventh home run and three RBI, Tres Barrerra hit two homers and drove in five, and Snyder had three hits and scored three runs.
When last week began, Garcia had just been sent back down from the Nationals after a quick three-game recall. He was hitting .235 with a .293 on-base percentage for Rochester, but after going 11-for-27 in the six games at Worcester, he’s now at .284 and .349. For his efforts, Garcia on Monday was named Triple-A East player of the week.
This week, the Wings – who despite their fine showing in Worcester still own the worst record in Triple-A East at 10-20 – head to Lehigh Valley where they opened the season by losing five of six games. The Iron Pigs have cooled since then and will start the week with a record of 16-14.
Sal Maiorana can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.