May 25, 2011 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
The Syracuse Chiefs’ bats came alive and its pitchers shut down the opposition last week as the team racked up seven straight wins.
Ever since designated hitter Michael Aubrey tied a franchise record by blasting four home runs in a row on May 14 at Alliance Bank Stadium, the club has been on a tear, sweeping the Norfolk Tides in a four-game series here before bussing to Rochester where the Chiefs beat the Red Wings in three games at Frontier Field.
Last week the Chiefs were the hottest team in all of baseball after a dismal month of April in which the club was just 8-15, winding up at the bottom of the International League North Division.
Chiefs Manager Randy Knorr never lost faith.
“Every team will go through an 8 and 16 stretch at some point in the season,” he told a reporter. “We got ours early…I tried to show them not to panic.”
Knorr’s cool, calm attitude comes from experience. Last year, he opened the season at 12-19 with Double-A Harrisburg but eventually made the Eastern League playoffs with a record of 77-65.
After their season-high seven-game win streak, the Chiefs are now 19-22, just four games below .500.
Aubrey’s awesome power display May 14 led the Chiefs to a 11-0 shutout of the visiting Durham Bulls while right-handed starter Brad Meyers made an auspicious Alliance Bank Syadium debut by holding the Bulls scoreless over seven innings.
Rain canceled games against the Bulls here May 15-16, before Norfolk arrived Tuesday, May 17, to face Chiefs right-hander Craig Stammen. The stalwart starter from Ohio allowed three runs over six innings and the bullpen shut down the Tides as Josh Wilkie notched his fourth save in the 4-3 victory.
On Wednesday, Yunesky Maya also turned in a quality start, allowing three runs over six-plus innings before the Chiefs’ offense exploded for 10 runs to subdue the Tides 10-3. Aubrey hit his fifth round-tripper while Chiefs newcomers Gregor Blanco, Adam Fox and Matt Antonelli knocked in two runs each, and reliever Adam Carr earned the win.
On Thursday, Aubrey again sparked the home team notching four RBI while the Chiefs breezed by the Tides, 9-4 in a convincing comeback victory. Southpaw starter Ross Detwiler enjoyed solid support from bullpen bulldogs Ryan Mattheus, Lee Hyde and Jeff Mandel.
On Friday, the Chiefs completed the sweep of Norfolk after Tug Hulett pushed across the deciding run in the tenth inning with a weak grounder that eluded Tides third baseman Joshua Bell to win 5-4. Chiefs shortstop Chris McConnell tallied two RBI with a solid double, and Collin Balester earned the win in relief.
Chiefs left-hander Tommy Milone pitched a brilliant seven innings Saturday in Rochester allowing just three hits while striking out nine. His catcher, Jhonatan Solano, had the game-winning RBI as the Chiefs shut out their Thruway rivals 2-0 for their sixth straight win.
On Sunday, Chiefs first baseman Chris Marrero and catcher Jesus Flores each homered to pace Syracuse to a 9-3 win over the Red Wings. Stammen earned his fourth W of the year, and Balester pitched three scoreless innings to preserve the club’s seventh in a row.
The Chiefs return home Thursday to start a four-game series against the Charlotte Knights. Games are 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday May 26-28, and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 29, at Alliance Bank Stadium. Field-level ticket prices range from $9 to $20, while upper-deck seats cost $8, and $4 for kids and seniors. Parking costs $5 per vehicle; 474-7833; syracusechiefs.com.