PAWTUCKET â€“ It had all the pageantry of Opening Day, from the introduction to the teams to the unfurling of an American flag in center field and a cannon salute that sounded off at the conclusion of the national anthem.
The Pawtucket Red Sox kept up their end of bargain, scoring a 4-2 triumph over Buffalo Thursday night before 8,872 shivering fans. Leadoff hitter Pedro Ciriaco led the victors with four hits in five trips. The second baseman showed off his wheels as three of his base knocks did not get past the infield.
Despite stranding 11 baserunners and hitting just 4-for-16 with runners in scoring position, the PawSox were able to notch seventh straight Opening Day victory. It was Ciriaco who delivered the gameâ€™s biggest hit, a two-run single that came in the bottom of the fourth inning. At that point the PawSox trailed by a 2-1 count.
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks had himself a productive evening, stroking two doubles as part of a 3-for-4 performance. PawSox starter Justin Germano earned the victory after allowing two runs on a pair of solo home runs in five innings. The righthander struck out two while walking no one.
The bullpen took care of the rest as Junichi Tazawa and Garrett Mock each tossed two shutout innings with Mock earning the save. The Bisons had the tying run at the plate with no outs in the top of the ninth before Mock got Valentino Pascucci to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play. Buffaloâ€™s Vinny Rottino flew out to center field for the gameâ€™s final out.
Hereâ€™s the official breakdown of the 24-man roster the PawSox unveiled prior to Thursdayâ€™s opener:
Starting rotation: RHP Justin Germano, RHP Brandon Duckworth, RHP Alex Wilson, RHP Aaron Cook, RHP Doug Mathis, RHP Ross Ohlendorf.
Bullpen: RHP Will Inman, RHP Garrett Mock, RHP Clayton Mortenson, RHP Tony Pena Jr., RHP Chorye Spoone.
Catchers: Luis Exposito, Ryan Lavarnway.
Infield: 1B Lars Anderson, 1B Mauro Gomez, SS Jose Iglesias, 3B Will Middlebrooks, Inf. Nate Spears, 2B Pedro Ciriaco.
Outfield: Daniel Nava, Jason Repko, Alex Hassan, Josh Kroeger, Che-Hsuan Lin.
â€“ For the time being it appears manager Arnie Beyeler is content with going with a six-man starting staff. The PawSox play a doubleheader at McCoy on Saturday before taking Easter Sunday off. After that Pawtucket wonâ€™t have a day off until Thursday, April 26.
â€“ Of the 12 pitchers on the active roster, none of them are lefthanded.
â€“ Only six players remain from last seasonâ€™s opening day roster: Duckworth, Exposito, Anderson, Iglesias, Spears and Nava.
Beyeler was asked if he had â€śthe talkâ€ť with Nate Spears, Pedro Ciriaco and Jason Repko after all three were optioned to Triple A following Bostonâ€™s final exhibition game.
â€śWe had that talk (Wednesday); all three of those guys have been through this before,â€ť replied the manager. â€śThe bottom line is that they all have to go out and play baseball.â€ť