The first time manager Matt LeCroy took his Rochester Red Wings on a two-week road trip was to start the delayed 2021 season, and that sojourn produced a gruesome 2-10 record which the team never recovered from.
There have been a few two-week road trips since then, but the most recent one — which took the Wings to St. Paul, Minnesota and Scranton, Pennsylvania — surely conjured bad memories for LeCroy and the players who were on that original roadie.
When the Wings left town on June 6 they were leading the International League East by 3.5 games over Buffalo. But after getting swept six straight in St. Paul and losing four of six to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Wings are now trailing Buffalo by a half-game, and they’re probably fortunate it’s that close after the two weeks they just had.
“It’s one of those times during the season where, we gotta give credit to the other teams,” LeCroy said Monday, an off say before his club begins a 12-game homestand against their other Thruway rival, Syracuse, on Tuesday night at Frontier Field.
“St. Paul was probably playing as good as they played all year,” LeCroy continued, “and then we go to Scranton, who at the time was playing pretty well, and they continued to play well. We broke the (eight-game losing) streak with a couple of good games and then we were really in the last two ballgames, but we just didn’t get it done there at the end.”
In the six losses at St. Paul, the Wings’ pitching staff had an awful week. In Scranton against the New York Yankees top farm club, the offense hit the skids.
Rochester scored only 19 runs in the six games, the lowest total of the 20 IL teams last week. In 54 innings, the Wings put up a zero in 43 of them, they hit just .227 as a team and their OPS was .648, both the third-lowest figures in the league.
“We just never got it going,” said LeCroy, who pointed to situational as one of the biggest problems. “It’s not from a lack of work; These guys are busting their fannies every day, but there’s a difference between doing it in practice and having the ability to do it in games. Guys are a little frustrated, but I think they’re looking forward to playing at home again.”
In the opener at Scranton, the Wings were blanked 7-0 as S/WB starter Hayden Wesneski pitched six three-hit innings in a game where Rochester starter Sterling Sharp — who hasd all season — limited the Rail Riders struggle to one run in five innings.
On Wednesday, the Wings’ losing streak reached eight as three players who have been up with the powerhouse Yankees this season — Estevan Floreal, Tim Locastro and Miguel Andujar — combined to go 8-for-14 at the top of the order with five runs scored and seven RBI in a 10-6 victory.
The streak was snapped Thursday when Cade Cavalli gave the Wings five innings of one-run ball and Ildemaro Vargas hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh for a 3-1 victory.
The Wings backed that up on Friday as they got to Rail Riders starter Ken Waldichuk, who some believe is going to be the next stud pitcher for the Yankees. The lefty gave up four runs on five hits and four walks and was out in the fourth inning. Even with that performance, his ERA is 2.88 in his first five Triple-A starts.
Andrew Stevenson and Adran Sanchez, batting in the top two spots, combined for six hits and five RBI for the Wings.
More offensive woes Saturday in a 3-0 loss as the Wings managed only five hits against S/WB starter Matt Krook. And then Sunday, the Wings fell 5-3 as Sharp was rocked for four runs in the first inning and the Wings never recovered.
They wasted a leadoff double in the eighth by Jake Noll, and in the ninth, the first two batters reached base, but the next three went down quietly, costing the Wings the chance for the series split.
“Hopefully we can look back at this and use this as a building moment where we’ve got to continue to work and execute,” said LeCroy. “We’ve got a little bit of a different team (due to call-ups to Washington) which is fine. Guys are getting an opportunity to play and show people what they can do. We didn’t execute in a lot of areas on that road trip and it showed with our record.”
Sal Maiorana can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.