The Pawtucket Red Sox wasted no time scoring the first run of their 2015 season on Thursday night. After a first-inning tally, Brian Johnson and a pair of relievers rolled as the PawSox shut out the Lehigh Valley IronPigs 4-0 on Opening Night in Allentown, PA.
Johnson (1-0) threw five scoreless innings and struck out the side in his final frame. By the time the lefthander fanned Edgar Duran to end the fifth Pawtucket had plated four runs. The PawSox got their 2015 campaign off to an auspicious start in the first; Jackie Bradley doubled down the left field line to lead off the game, moved to third on a Rusney Castillo ground-out and scored on a Travis Shaw line-drive single to left.
In the top of the third, Castillo's energy on the basepaths helped the PawSox manufacture a second run. After the Cuban right fielder walked with one out, he advanced to second on a throwing error by IronPigs starter Joely Rodriguez (0-1). Castillo then stole third base and scored on a throwing error by 'Pigs catcher Tommy Joseph - the first of five Lehigh Valley miscues.
In the fifth, Pawtucket (1-0) cashed in on more shoddy defense from Lehigh Valley (0-1). With two on and one out, Garin Cecchini hit a bullet to first. The IronPigs' first baseman Chris McGuinness fed to pitcher Philippe Aumont, who dropped the ball and allowed a hustling Castillo to score from second. Blake Swihart then grounded to second; Cecchini was forced out at second but Swihart sprinted to first, stayed out of the double play and drove home Bryce Brentz, who had walked for the second of three times.
With the score 4-0, Noe Ramirez took over in the sixth. Ramirez allowed only two hits over two and a third scoreless innings, stirking out two and walked three. He was lifted with two aboard and one out in the eighth; Heath Hembree induced a double play off the bat of Maikel Franco to end the threat. Hembree struck out the side in the ninth to cap the shutout. Pawtucket pitchers fanned 12 and allowed only seven hits and three walks on the night.
Game two of the four-game series is scheduled for Friday night with first pitch at 7:05 P.M. PawSox righthander Keith Couch makes his first start of 2015 and will be opposed by Chad Billingsley, who will make a Major League rehab start. Radio coverage on 920 AM (WHJJ), the PawSox Radio Network and streaming begins at 6:50.
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