Chiefs Cook IronPigs on Emotional Night for Simms
Published on August 30, 2017
Story by Kent Paisley
Photo courtesy Syracuse Chiefs (Danny Tripodi)
Syracuse, N.Y. – The Syracuse Chiefs and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs came into NBT Bank stadium this Tuesday evening with similar quality of play recently, yet vastly different records.
The IronPigs turned on the greaser early in the season, starting with a scorching 42-19 record, but have had a cooler record of 32-42 since. They sat at 74-61 on the year coming into Tuesday’s contest.
The Chiefs held a half game lead on the worst record in the International League Standings at 52-83.
Taking the hill for the two teams were Jake Thompson for the IronPigs, with a 5.34 ERA in 21 appearances, and John Simms for the Chiefs, with a 6.82 ERA in 6 appearances.
They went on to outperform their ERAs in a pitchers’ duel.
Simms, a Houston native, was pitching for the first time since Tropical Storm Harvey struck.
See Newhouse Sports story on Simms emotions here
Mirrored Opening Frames
The IronPigs were set down in order to start the game. The Chiefs opened the bottom of the first with singles by center fielder Rafael Bautista and right fielder Andrew Stevenson, but that’s as far as they got.
In the top of the second, the IronPigs got their first baseman Brock Stassi and left fielder Andrew Pullin on first and second with a single and a walk with one out. That’s as far as they got.
The Chiefs proceeded to go down in order in the bottom of the second.
The pitchers’ duel was on from there, as Simms and Thompson traded scoreless innings in the third.
After sitting ten consecutive Chiefs down, Thompson gave up the first run of the game on a two-out solo homer to left field by second baseman Brandon Snyder in the bottom of the fourth, giving the Chiefs a 1-0 lead.
It was Snyder’s 24th homer of the season. But the emotion of the homer wasn’t about himself, but supporting Simms.
“Obviously it (Tropical Storm Harvey) is directly affecting him… it’s awful,” Snyder said. For him to come out and pitch well, it helped.”
Thompson and Sims again traded scoreless innings in the fifth, but the sixth inning opened with mayhem benefiting the IronPigs.
IronPigs leadoff hitter Scott Kingery hit a towering popup, which Chiefs first baseman Clint Robinson lost up in the lights. The other Chiefs infielders thought Robinson had it, and the ball landed on the mound behind Simms.
Kingery never hesitated out of the box and advanced to second base without a play. Second baseman J.P. Crawford followed Kingery’s at bat with a walk.
Simms then clamped down for the Chiefs. He fired a strike to third base to get Kingery out on a force play after a bunt directly to him by center fielder Carlos Tocci.
Stassi hit a fly ball to right center field which did not advance Crawford to third, and right fielder Dylan Cozens struck out looking, to end the IronPigs’ threat.
Cozens was ejected shortly thereafter for complaining about the outside strike by home plate umpire Roberto Ortiz. He was replaced by Herlis Rodriguez in right field for the remainder of the game.
The Chiefs carried the momentum into the bottom of the frame, as they had first and second with no one out with cleanup hitter Robinson to the plate. He proceeded to hit into a 4-6-3 double play, resulting in a runner on third with two outs.
With the end of the damage in sight, Thompson threw a fastball high, ticking catcher Nick Rickles’ mitt and going all the way to the backstop, resulting in Stevenson scoring from third. It was ruled a passed ball.
Snyder struck on the next pitch, but the damage was done. The Chiefs claimed a 2-0 lead, and added to that lead in the bottom of the seventh.
Once again with two outs, Thompson threw a wild pitch to advance Chief’s catcher Pedro Severino and shortstop Irving Falu from first and second to second and third.
Bautista took advantage of the ducks on the pond, hitting a bloop single to left field which drove in Severino and Falu, increasing the Chief’s lead to 4-0 through seven innings.
Simms was for the evening after seven, throwing 102 pitches and giving up three hits. Simms gave credit for his dominant start to barrels missing balls.
“My fastball had a lot more life on it,” Simms explained. “Even when I missed, it was OK”
In the top of the eighth, Crawford hit a solo shot to right field to make it a 4-1 deficit for the IronPigs, but proved too little too late to turn on the greaser and launch a comeback.
Austin Adams came in for the Chiefs to wrap up the save in the ninth, his fifth save out of six opportunities this season, with the final score of 4-1.
Remainder of the Season
This was the second win for the Chiefs in the four-game series against the IronPigs, having won Monday night 7-3.
The Syracuse Chiefs play the IronPigs Wednesday at 6:35 P.M. at NBT Bank Stadium, with the series continuing through Thursday.
The Chiefs have six games remaining in their season, all at home. Their next and final series is a four game series against Buffalo, starting Friday.