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Chiefs lose three of first four games, but starters show promise

Syracuse Chiefs starter Yunesky Maya, a crafty right-hander from Cuba, earned his first W of the season last Saturday afternoon at Alliance Bank Stadium.

Syracuse Chiefs starter Yunesky Maya, a crafty right-hander from Cuba, earned his first W of the season last Saturday afternoon at Alliance Bank Stadium. Photo by Herm Card.

— The Syracuse Chiefs new manager Tony Beasley knows his club can hit. They looked like sluggers during pre-season games in Florida. Once they opened the season last Thursday here at frigid Alliance Bank Stadium, however, their bats went noticeably cold.

The top farm club of the Washington Nationals, the Chiefs lost their first two games against the Rochester Red Wings before exploding for 11 hits to shut out the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 4-0 on Saturday evening for Syracuse’s first win of the season.

Better yet, three of the team’s first four starting pitchers turned in quality starts. Opening day hurler Mitch Atkins, a big right-hander from North Carolina, threw five innings of one-run ball against Rochester followed by righty Tanner Roark allowing one run on just three hits over six frames on Friday in his International League debut.

Unfortunately, the Chiefs knocked out just five hits Thursday and seven on Friday, to lose their first two games by scores of 7-4 and 3-1, respectively.

The solid pitching continued Saturday when Cuban right-hander Yunesky Maya tossed six shutout innings to earn the win, and Chiefs hitters collected a respectable 11 hits to notch the 4-0 shutout, the home team’s first victory of its 144-game 2012 campaign.

Second baseman Seth Bynum hit a line-drive home run down the left field line on Saturday. The 19-year-old hitting phenom, Bryce Harper, hit safely in his first three Triple-A games before going 0-4 on Sunday.

Although his ball club had lost two of three, Beasley was pleased with the pitching. “We had three consecutive quality starts,” he said, “and that’s what you’ve got to do to give the team a chance to win.”

That didn’t happen Sunday even though proven major-league lefty John Lannan took the mound against the Yankees farmhands. In two innings, the Yankees capitalized on six hits and two walks allowed by Lannan to lead the game 5-0 at the bottom of the second. Beasley and Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker lifted Lannan after those two disastrous innings, but the bullpen couldn’t subdue the Yankees, who were red-hot after losing their first three games of the season. Sunday’s final score was an embarrassing 10-0.

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