PawSox Drop Opener to Lehigh Valley, 8-1
ALLENTOWN, Penn. - The Lehigh Valley IronPigs stormed out of the gates with seven runs in the first two innings and toppled the Pawtucket Red Sox, 8-1, on Thursday night in the series opener at Coca-Cola Park.
The IronPigs (38-28), who lead the International League's North Division, followed up a two-run first inning with a five-run second to down the PawSox (31-33), who had previously won four straight games, including a three-game sweep of Syracuse to begin the seven-game road trip.
Rehabbing Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg pitched for the first time since Sunday and logged an impressive bottom of the sixth inning. In the fourth outing of his second rehab stint, Thornburg struck out the first two batters he faced and induced a harmless popup on the infield that resulted in an error and extended the inning. The right-hander then got the next batter to hit a soft comebacker to the mound. All told, Thornburg threw 20 pitches (11 strikes). He consistently sat 94-95 MPH with his 16 fastballs, touching 96 MPH once. Thornburg blew a 94 MPH fastball upstairs for a swinging strikeout, then tumbled an 80 MPH curveball through the bottom of the zone for his second punchout. In these last four outings, Thornburg has only allowed one hit and one walk.
Thornburg was one of four Pawtucket relievers who helped stabilize the ballgame. Right-hander Kyle Martin allowed just an unearned run in two innings, while southpaw Bobby Poyner (1.1 IP, 1 H), Thornburg and righty Ty Buttrey (two perfect innings with three strikeouts) added scoreless work.
In his second start since being signed to a minor-league deal by the Red Sox, Pawtucket right-hander Josh A. Smith (L, 0-2) allowed seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and two walks in 1.2 innings.
Lehigh Valley starter Ben Lively (W, 2-2) spun seven innings of one-run work in which he struck out five and didn't issue a free pass.
Pawtucket right fielder Cole Sturgeon (2-for-4, RBI) recorded his 23rd multi-hit game of the season (between Triple-A and Double-A). Third baseman Ivan De Jesus Jr. (2-for-4) notched his fourth multi-hit game of the week and is now 17-for-41 (.415) with six extra-base hits and 10 walks in his last 14 games. Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin (1-for-3, BB) extended his hitting streak to 15 games - the second-longest in the International League this season - and lengthened his on-base streak to 19 games, which is tied for the longest by a Pawtucket player in 2018.
The IronPigs scratched across two runs in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from Adron Chambers and the first of three Pawtucket errors.
In the second, Lehigh Valley sent 11 batters to the plate and scored its five runs on six hits - all singles - before leaving the bases loaded.
The IronPigs stretched their lead to 8-0 in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from leadoff man Dean Anna.
Pawtucket cracked the run column in the top of the fifth inning when Sturgeon sliced an RBI single to left field to score left fielder Aneury Tavarez, who had led off the inning by legging out an infield single.
The PawSox continue their seven-game road trip Friday at 7:05 p.m. against the IronPigs. Pawtucket left-hander Josh D. Smith (2-3, 3.12) is scheduled to oppose IronPigs lefty Cole Irvin (0-1, 2.62). 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.
The PawSox will return home to McCoy Stadium on June 19-24 (Tuesday-Sunday) for a seven-game homestand against the Buffalo Bisons (Toronto Blue Jays) and Syracuse. Good seats are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.
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