MOOSIC - On Christmas in July day at PNC Field, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders brought plenty of gifts to give away.
Pawtucket was more than happy to accept.
There were four free passes and a couple of hit batters donated by starting pitcher Matt Tracy. A passed ball on a third strike by catcher John Ryan Murphy opened the door to an eight-run fourth inning for Pawtucket. And another giving RailRiders pitcher provided one thrill after another for the PawSox.
It all added up to Pawtucket’s 10-0 victory over the RailRiders in a game that was over not long after it started Friday at PNC Field.
“They didn’t throw the ball over the plate,” RailRiders manager Dave Miley said of his pitching staff. “There might have been a couple borderline pitches here and there, not to the extent you walk six guys. You’re just looking to take a beat-down, and that’s what we did.”
The mood was festive all night, with the RailRiders dressed in bright red-and-white Christmas themed jerseys and Christmasy tunes such as Sleigh Ride chortling over the stadium sound system for a sold-out crowd of 10,000.
But it was a quick downhill slope for the RailRiders.
Tracy started his wild Friday night by allowing a single to Mookie Betts to start the game, then issued a couple walks and hit Garin Cecchini with the bases loaded to force in Pawtucket’s first run in the opening inning.
Deven Marrero doubled home another for the PawSox in the third inning, then Pawtucket really felt Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s holiday spirit.
Betts slammed a two-out double in the fourth, then Jonathan Herrera swung and missed at a third strike that could have ended the inning right there.
But hold on.
Murphy couldn’t hold the high fastball, and Herrera beat the throw to first base to reach on a strikeout/passed ball. That gave the PawSox the keys to a joyride.
Ryan Roberts followed with a three-run homer to deep left field, giving Pawtucket a 5-0 advantage and Travis Shaw proceeded to slam a double, finishing RailRiders starter Tracy.
Reliever Burawa didn’t provide much relief.
He walked three straight batters, the last forcing in a run, then surrendered three consecutive hits before recording an out.
By the time the inning was finished, Betts had two hits in the same frame, Alex Hassan had a two-run single and Pawtucket thrived after the passed ball that set up the Roberts homer.
In all, 13 men came to the plate in a never-ending rally that left Pawtucket with a 10-0 lead.
“I understand a passed ball,” Miley said, “but that doesn’t mean you give up eight runs after it. We walked six guys, hit a couple guys. You can’t do that against anybody. Against a team like that, with their hitters, you damn sure can’t do it.”
Meanwhile, PawSox starter Anthony Ranaudo shut down the RailRiders on three hits over his six innings while allowing just two runners to reach second base and nobody to get past it.
The RailRiders picked up a couple runs against Pawtucket’s bullpen, when Zoilo Almonte singled home Jose Pirela and Kyle Roller added an RBI double.
But as it turned out, this Christmas celebration was much more merrier for Pawtucket. The RailRiders gave a lot more than they received.