MOOSIC – Dellin Betances had been waiting a long time for an outing like Tuesday.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitcher struggled mightily last season, beginning the year in Triple-A before getting demoted to Double-A. Even to start this season he had problems, entering the start with an ERA of 13.50 and allowing nearly a walk an inning.
All that was forgotten on the brisk night at PNC Field as he only gave up three hits, leading the RailRiders to a 2-1 win over Columbus.
Betances went seven innings, his longest outing since May of last year, also against Columbus. The 6-foot-8, 260-pound righty got in front of 20 of the 26 batters he faced with a first-pitch strike as he struck out seven and the only two walks he allowed came in the seventh inning. Of the 90 pitches he threw, 60 went for strikes.
“I think I wanted it so bad and I got in trouble there and that’s my problem sometimes,” Betances said about the two walks late in the game. “This (outing) was definitely big. I’m trying to go out there every time and just try to get the team a chance to win. I feel like this is a step in the right direction.”
Betances had a lot of movement on his pitches and threw them where he wanted, painting the corners to near perfection. When Columbus scored a run in the fourth, the two hits were doubles down each base line, hitting pitches on the outside corner. Luis Hernandez hit an opposite field double past the third base bag and the next batter, Cord Phelps, followed the same way down the first base foul line for the 1-0 lead.
Betances didn’t allow another hit the rest of the game after that run-scoring hit. When he got in trouble in the seventh, Thomas Neal made a nice running catch in right field to end the inning.
“That was solid,” RailRiders manager Dave Miley said about his starter. “And getting into the seventh is another positive. It was a good start and a good start for us.”
All the offense Betances needed came on one swing in the bottom of the sixth with two outs. That’s when Dan Johnson, who smacked 28 home runs last season for Charlotte and was International League MVP in 2010, went deep for the first time this season with a two-run blast onto the lawn in right field.
“You’re not an MVP in the International League for nothing,” Miley said referring to Johnson. “He’s worked hard. I know he’s done a lot of extra work with (hitting coach) Butch (Wynegar) and maybe that’s a good start for him and us.”
While the Clippers were held to just three hits by Betances, the RailRiders were limited to just three hits off Columbus starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, trying to get back to the major leagues with Cleveland after signing with the organization in the offseason.
Like his counterpart, Dice-K was changing speeds all night and showed good command. A prime example of how he kept hitters off-balance was Austin Romine’s at bat in the fourth. For the second strike, he got Romine swinging at a 74 MPH curveball. Two pitches later, he stuck out the RailRiders catcher swinging on a 91 MPH fastball.
That’s how he was pitching all night as the former Boston Red Sox star struck out eight and only allowed three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings pitched.