MOOSIC, Penn. — Terry Doyle admits that the Pawtucket Red Sox were playing with house money.
With the PawSox having won the first three games against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the main question heading into Sunday’s series finale was whether the RailRiders could save face and avoid falling victim to a season-opening four-game sweep at PNC Field.
Instead, the status quo prevailed, and the PawSox left little room for doubt in the process, riding 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball from Doyle to a 6-2 triumph that should have come complete with RailRiders ushers issuing brooms to the 5,235 patrons as they exited the grounds.
“The pressure is all on them at this point. We took care of business in the first three games, so it’s on the other team to come out and raise the bar,” said Doyle, a New Hampshire native who for three years served as a substitute teacher at Warwick Vets High School. “For me, I’m just going to go out there and throw strikes and make them force the issue.”
Asked about the enjoyment factor that comes from the PawSox outscoring the RailRiders by a 30-12 count during the four games, Doyle replied, “The first three games, they were at night and it was cold. With (Sunday) being a day game, it was a little more entertaining because we had the weather on our side.”
Doyle earns the distinction of being the first PawSox starter to pitch beyond the fifth inning so far this season. The 27-year-old appeared to be on the ropes in the fifth after issuing one of his five walks and hitting a batter with two down. As Doyle settled in to face Corban Joseph, he noticed that Addison Maruszak was being liberal with his lead off second base.
After establishing eye contact with Pawtucket shortstop Jonathan Diaz, Doyle started paying more attention to Maruszak. Unleashing a low pickoff throw designed to place Diaz’ glove in a position where he could block Maruszak’s hand from reaching the bag, the pitcher erased the baserunner and with it was able to get back in the dugout with Pawtucket still up 5-0.
“I was struggling throwing strikes at that point, but I saw (Maruszak) take his lead. He would get out to his point and stop moving his feet,” said Doyle. “I was looking at (Doyle) just waiting to see if he picked up what I was picking up. After the inning, he came up to me
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and said he was trying to get (catcher) Ryan (Lavarnway’s) attention behind the dish.”
Added Pawtucket skipper Gary DiSarcina, “Down five runs with runners on first and second, it was a great job by Terry just recognizing that he could help himself to get out of the inning. There’s more ways to get out of the inning besides just pitching – field your position, hold runners and make plays like he did.”
The best way to summarize Doyle’s outing is that he succeeded in wiggling his way out of some tight spots. The only time he retired the side in order came in the fourth inning. As part of his 87-pitch outing, Doyle allowed just one hit while striking out five.
“I pitched well enough to get out of the jams that I put myself in,” the righthander noted.
In the visitor’s half of the third inning, Pawtucket’s offense supplied Doyle and relievers Ryan Rowland-Smith and Anthony Carter with all the offense the trio would need. Already up 1-0, Pawtucket hung a three-spot behind a sacrifice fly by Drew Sutton and a two-run single by catcher Ryan Lavarnway.
The four games here saw Pawtucket torch Scranton’s pitching staff for 41 hits along with seven doubles and five home runs.
“We had a couple of big innings throughout the series that kind of drains the life out of the other team,” said DiSarcina. “Opportunistic is probably the best way to describe the offense at the moment.”