The Red Wings dominated the Charlotte Knights 12-1 Saturday night at Frontier Field. The paid attendance of 10,354 was the second largest Wings crowd of the season; the teams will continue the series with a 5:05 p.m. game Sunday, with gates opening at 4 p.m.
Rochester right-hander Steven Hirschfeld, after getting knocked around in his last start June 18, got off to an effective start Saturday. Hirschfeld's nine-pitch first inning concluded with a strikeout of veteran slugger Dan Johnson.
Charlotte starter Simon Castro made his first start since a promotion from Double-A, and looked comfortable after retiring the first two Rochester hitters. However, Clete Thomas started a two-out rally with a single and Danny Valencia followed suit, advancing Thomas to third base. Sean Burroughs recorded the third consecutive single which scored Thomas, giving the Red Wings the early 1-0 lead after one inning.
The second inning went scoreless as both Hirschfeld and Castro escaped the inning without surrendering any runs.
After Hirschfeld threw another scoreless inning in the top of the third, Thomas led off the bottom of the inning with a double off the right field wall . With Thomas on second, Valencia slugged a home run to left field, his third of the year, to give Rochester the 3-0 lead after three innings.
Hirschfeld found himself in a bit of a jam with two runners on and zero outs in the top of the fourth, but was bailed out by a double play and a fantastic diving snag at first base by Ray Chang to end the Knights' rally. Rochester couldn't respond in the bottom half of the inning as they went down in order, marking their first 1-2-3 inning of the game.
The Wings loaded the bases against Castro in the bottom of the sixth. Burroughs singled for his third hit of the game, and Matt Carson and Tsuyoshi Nishioka each followed with bunt singles. Rochester, batting just .192 with the bases loaded coming into the game, got a boost from Rene Rivera - who drilled a 3-1 pitch up the middle for a run-scoring single that extended the lead to 4-0. Castro was replaced by Gregory Infante, and Ray Chang greeted Infante with a bloop double to right field. Two more runs scored, followed by a throwing error that broke the game open with Rochester leading 7-0 with none out.
The Knights' fielding woes continued with a throwing error that let in two more Rochester runs. A ground out by Burroughs brought in the 10th run of the game, and when Thomas scored on a wild pitch the crazy eight-run inning was complete. The total damage: 12 batters, five unearned runs, five hits, three errors, and the largest Wings offensive inning of the season.
In the top of the seventh, Charlotte scored a run of their own via an RBI single from Ray Olmedo, snapping the Red Wings' pitching staff streak of 15 consecutive scoreless innings. Hirschfeld left the game following the scored run, finishing with zero earned runs allowed and four strikeouts in 6 and 2/3 innings of work. Rochester threatened again with two runners on and two out in the bottom half of the inning, but that's as close as they would come as the score remained at 11-1 through seven innings.
Valencia homered for the second time in the bottom of the eighth, his fourth of the season with Rochester.
Esmerling Vazquez worked 1 1/3 innings, and Bobby Lanigan pitched the ninth for the Red Wings.