Things were going so well. Heading into the bottom of the fifth against the Lowell Spinners (Red Sox), the Staten Island Yankees were cruising along. Starting pitcher, Jonathan Loaisiga already had eight strikeouts, five of which came from the first six batters Lowell sent to the plate. His curveball and fastball (94-96 MPH) had the Spinners batters looking feeble, and Loaisiga was throwing nothing but strikes. Only three Spinners had reached base (two hits and one error), and Staten Island scored two in the fourth on a loud double by Skinner and a 413’ home run by Timmy Robinson that became a three run lead in the top of the fifth after a RBI single by Kendall Coleman.
Nick Hamilton led off the bottom of the fifth for Lowell and struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt for Loaisiga’s ninth and final strikeout of the night. Unfortunately the pitch was also too low for catcher Keith Skinner to handle and Hamilton, who is one of the fastest players in the Red Sox organization, beat Skinner’s throw to first. Hamilton promptly stole second and moved to third as Skinner’s throw went sailing into centerfield. A sacrifice fly scored the unearned run and was the only run allowed by Loaisiga who had reached 67 pitches with 53 strikes and only 14 balls. Manager Julio Mosquera brought in Dave Palladino who got two quick outs to end the inning with only that one fluke unearned run given up. That gift run however turned out to be a harbinger of the Staten Island implosion that would occur over the final four innings.
With two outs in the top of the sixth, Manny Argomaniz (DH) hit his first homer of the season to restore the three run lead quickly, and Staten Island seemed back in control. Palladino got through the bottom of the sixth allowing only a single and an advance on a wild pitch, but Lowell could do no further damage. Cody Brown led off the seventh with a home run giving Staten Island three home runs on the night and a 5-1 lead with only nine outs left to go. Then came the bottom of the seventh.
Palladino had done his job for the night replaced by Josh Roeder to pitch the bottom of the seventh. Lowell’s Zach Sterry broke his 0-20 slump with a weak pop up to left that managed to land perfectly between three fielders. Roeder then hit Nick Hamilton, and it was quickly first and second with nobody out. A walk to Alex Martinez loaded the bases and Roeder to forget quickly done for the night having allowed the three base runners without recording an out. Enter Will Jones for the Yankees who promptly struck out Tanner Nishioka but the pitch was wild and skipped to the backstop away from Keith Skinner allowing two base runners to score on the single wild pitch. A ground out to third scored another run, but Jones was able to close out the inning with Staten Island clinging to a now precarious 5-4 lead.
In the top of the eighth, Staten Island wasted a double by Keith Skinner (his 2nd of the night) and a walk to Argomaniz and Jones came out to pitch the bottom of the eighth. The first Lowell batter reached on an error by shortstop Wilfrin Mateo, but Jones got the next batter to fly out to left for the first out. Jones again shot himself in the foot by making a wild pick off throw that sailed past Ryan Krill and moved the runner to second. A booming triple to the right centerfield wall tied the game and turned what had seemed to be a Yankees’ smooth victory after six into a sloppy tie heading to the ninth.
Staten Island went down meekly in the ninth and the bottom of ninth capped off a night the Yankees would like to quickly forget. A lead off walk was followed by an attempted sacrifice bunt that both Jones and Skinner tried to field resulting in no one grabbing the ball and runners were on first and second with nobody out. Another bunt attempt this time reached Jones who threw to third to get the lead runner out. The next batter hit a grounder to third baseman Jose Polonia who uncorked a wild throw to first, but a long stretch by Krill temporarily saved the winning run from scoring with runners now on second and third and only one out. A single to left sent the frenzied Lowell crowd home happy while the Yankees trudged off the field with no one but themselves to blame in an ugly loss.
Staten Island pitchers only gave up seven hits and struck out thirteen with only two walks, but five errors and a couple of wild pitches did the Yankees in. Loaisiga was sharp with nine strikeouts, no walks and 53/67 pitches for strikes. It would have been six errors had Krill not made an incredibly athletic play in the eighth on a terrible throw by Polonia by leaping and then landing straight down on the bag. On the bright side the Yankees had three home runs (Robinson, Argomaniz and Brown) and three doubles. The two teams play the second game of the series tonight at 6:35 PM with Jio Orozco facing the Spinners’ Jake Thompson.
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