SWB Yankees infielder Kevin Russo can’t get to a ground ball that goes down as a hit for a Bisons batter in the third inning of Wednesday’s home opener at PNC Field in Moosic.Pete G. Wilcox photo
MOOSIC – Things didn’t go the way the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees wanted in their home opener Wednesday night.
An announced crowd of only 3,637 showed up to welcome them back to PNC Field – the lowest attendance for a home opener in the 23-year history of the franchise.
And to make things worse, the Yankees bats were colder than the 46-degree temperature that made it feel more like winter than spring.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre managed only four hits in its 4-0 loss to Buffalo that snapped the Yankees three-game streak.
The Bisons got a superb performance by pitcher Jenrry Mejia, who displayed the form that has made him the New York Mets top pitching prospect.
Mejia, who consistently hit more than 90 mph on the radar gun, gave up just three hits in 6 2/3 innings of work, and struck out five.
Yankee manager Dave Miley wasn’t surprised by Mejia’s performance.
“This is the first time we’ve faced him, but we’ve heard great things about him. He started the season last year in the big leagues. Tonight, he made us go after some pitches that we didn’t like.”
The Yankees mounted only two scoring threats against Mejia.
They loaded the bases in the sixth inning, but Brandon Laird flied out to end the threat. In the fifth, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre placed two runners on base. However, Mejia struck out Greg Golson to end the inning.
“Sometimes, when a guy is pitching that good, you just have to hope he makes a mistake,” said Laird. “I know he’s a good pitcher. We were teammates in the Arizona Fall League a few years ago.”
Laird made a great defensive play in the second inning. The third baseman made a diving stop on a line drive by Dusty Ryan with the bases loaded, and made a perfect throw to first to end the inning.
Yankee starter David Phelps suffered the loss, but kept Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the game until the three-run Buffalo sixth.
“I was able to make some quality pitches, but the sixth inning hurt me,” said Phelps, a former Notre Dame standout.
Yankees pitching coach Scott Aldred said Phelps didn’t get a lot of work in spring training and just needs more consistency.
“This was only his second start. He’s a four-pitch guy who can get you out with any of his pitches.”
• The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees won the first home series from the Buffalo Bisons. The Yankees won, 6-2, at PNC Field Thursday night and, 5-3, Friday night.
• The Yankees opened the season with a 3-2 road trip. They were 5-3 and second in the International League North Division following Friday’s win.
• After five games in four days in the Lehigh Valley, the Yankees return home Friday night to start a four-game series with the Syracuse Chiefs.