ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Hiram Bocachica said he never has batted against teammate Fernando Rodney, “and I don't want to.”
Last night, the three Rochester Red Wings who batted against Rodney also wished they hadn't had to. All three struck out as Rodney preserved the Toledo Mud Hens' 5-2 victory.
Rochester manager Phil Roof said of Rodney's fastball: “You could hear it buzzing before it got to home plate.”
Said Bocachica: “A 96-mile-an-hour fastball, an 83-mile-an-hour change-up and a 90-mile-an-hour slider. He doesn't belong here.”
Just why is Rodney still in the International League and not up helping the parent Detroit Tigers?
Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish answered that question by saying, “The Tigers' pitchers have pitched. Coming out of spring training, we knew they had a lot of young starters up there, so we had a couple of pitchers who were at Double-A, [Pat] Ahearne and [Jeff] Farnsworth, with the idea that we would lose some pitching to Detroit. But the only guy we've lost has been Steve Avery.”
Of Rodney, Parrish said: “He was marchin' it up there pretty good tonight.”
Rodney's fastball repeatedly hit 96 on the radar gun, and it was even more effective following the off-speed pitches of winning pitcher Nate Robertson that kept the Red Wings off balance for 72/3 innings.
“[Rodney's] a good competitor,” Parrish said. “I think he's going to improve, and by the end of the year he's going to be able to go somewhere.”
Though pitching has been the big story in the first three games of a four-game series (two won by Toledo), Bocachica helped the Hens' offense generate five runs on just seven hits.
He doubled home a fourth-inning run, then singled and scored the final run in the ninth. But even though he hit just a ground ball to first base in the first inning, he used it to generate three unearned runs in the inning against major league veteran James Baldwin.
Bocachica hit the ground ball with two out and two runners on base. But first baseman Shane Andrews threw behind Baldwin, covering the base, allowing the first run to score.
Then Bocachica and Cody Ross prepared to work a double steal. But instead of throwing to second base, Rochester catcher Brandon Marsters threw to third - and would have had Ross out if Connacher hadn't mishandled the throw. Ross got up and ran home, and so did Bocachica, hustling all the way from first.
“We got lucky,” Parrish admitted. “We were hung out to dry there. But sometimes it's good to be lucky.”