By Cooper Boardman –
James Paxton delivered a strong start and the Worcester Red Sox (15-15) set a new season-high in runs in a 14-2 victory over the Buffalo Bisons (12-18) on Friday night at Polar Park.
On the mound, Paxton started for the WooSox and threw 96 pitches (56 strikes), posting the following line: 5 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, earning the win. Both runs against the left-hander came in the first, as Paxton walked back-to-back hitters with one out, then allowed an RBI single to Jordan Luplow and a sac-fly to Wynton Bernard.
From there, Paxton would retire 12 of the next 16 he faced, allowing just a single hit over his final four innings of work. He reached 96.6 miles-per-hour on his four-seam fastball and recorded 13 total swing-and-misses.
Worcester came to bat in the bottom of the first trailing 2-0, a deficit that would last five batters. A trio of walks loaded the bases for Greg Allen, who delivered a one-out game-tying single in the first. The next batter, Daniel Palka, began a big night with a two-run single of his own to make it 4-2 WooSox. Caleb Hamilton capped off a five-run fifth with an RBI single, plating Palka.
The home team would ultimately score in five of their first six offensive innings, including a run-scoring single for Wilyer Abreu in the second. After a runless third, Abreu made it his fourth multi-RBI game of the year with a sac-fly.
Leading 7-2 entering the fifth, Palka annihilated a 460-foot solo home run to right-center off Julian Fernandez. Nick Sogard followed with a triple, then was balked home by Fernandez. Ryan Fitzgerald kept the big offensive night rolling next, smashing a 417-foot solo shot of his own to right.
After the three-spot, the WooSox topped that effort with four runs in the sixth. Again, it was Palka who got it started, this time with an opposite field two-run shot. Palka, who hit 26 Triple-A home runs last year, has now hit four for Worcester. After a Sogard single, Buffalo finally got two outs before David Hamilton singled, Niko Goodrum walked and Jorge Alfaro brought two home with his second double of the night.
On the mound, Justin Garza, claimed off waivers from the Angels on April 28, tossed a scoreless sixth. Cam Booser, Joe Jacques and Jake Thompson did the same in the seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.
Hamilton stole three bases in the game, upping his International League-leading total to 19. Goodrum and Allen also swiped bags, adding to the league-best 61 stolen bases for the team.
The WooSox continue the homestand with a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon, starting at 4:05 p.m. against the Buffalo Bisons, affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. In game one, Brandon Walter (0-2, 4.74) faces Casey Lawrence (1-3, 5.33), while Norwith Gudino (2-3, 4.76) gets the start in game two for the WooSox. Television coverage is on NESN, while radio coverage is live at 3:45 p.m. on 98.9 Nash Icon and the WooSox Radio Network.