Sounds 4, Zephyrs 2: Rusty Pitching Fells Zephyrs

It had been 11 days since Henry Rodriguez of the New Orleans Zephyrs pitched in an actual game. He was promoted to the Miami Marlins on May 11 and his two appearances could not have gone much worse. Rodriguez walked four batters and allowed two runs while lasting just 2/3 of an inning.

In fact, it was so bad that the Marlins designated him for assignment on May 14, essentially offering his contract to other teams. There were no takers, so he returned to the Zephyrs six days later.

Rodriguez came on in relief in the eighth inning with the Zephyrs locked in a 2-2 tie with the Nashville Sounds on Sunday. And the same issues that have hindered Rodriguez throughout his six-year major league career — he averages 6.4 walks per nine innings — troubled him again.

Although Rodriguez did not allow a hit in his first few innings on Sunday, he issued five walks, including loading the bases on free passes in the ninth inning before he was removed from the game.

Zephyrs reliever Collin Cargill walked the next batter to give the Sounds a 3-2 lead, and the next batter, Hunter Morris, singled home another run. Both runs were charged to Rodriguez who took the loss as the Sounds held on to defeat the Zephyrs 4-2.

“In his career that’s the thing that he’s just working on is his command,” said Andy Haines, the Zephyrs manager. “But it’s hard on a guy when you don’t pitch for that long.”

Haines has felt relieved the last few days that the Zephyrs have come away with a victory in close games that he called hard fought games. The Zephyrs had won three in row with each game decided by three runs or less despite having a shorthanded bullpen.

“We ask a lot of our bullpen, we just ask a lot of them,” Haines said.

The Zephyrs rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning off Sounds closer Donovan Hand. They had the bases loaded with Jordany Valdespin at the plate with a chance to tie or win the game for the Zephyrs, but Hand struck Valdespin out to end the game. The Zephyrs were 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position in the game.

“Some tough breaks, but it was nice to see us battle right back again tonight,” Haines said. “We had a chance but it just didn’t happen.”

Anthony DeSclafani made his Triple-A debut for the Zephyrs on Sunday. Earlier this month, DeSclafani made the jump from the double-A Jacksonville Suns to the majors but was optioned to New Orleans last week.

The Zephyrs got on the scoreboard right away in the first inning. Josh Rodriguez began the game by doubling into left field and scored when the next batter, Valdespin, singled to knock him in.

Tom Gorzelanny started the game for the Sounds on a major league rehab assignment from the Brewers. He is trying to return from offseason shoulder surgery and was scheduled to throw just 45 pitches.

Nashville started off the fourth inning with three consecutive hits capped off by a R.B.I. single from Morris after a 13-pitch at-bat. DeSclafani needed 43 pitches to labor through the inning and essentially ended his day after four innings.

Ariel Pena was the Sounds scheduled starter initially for this game and worked as the long man, throwing several innings out of the bullpen. He picked up the victory after lasting five innings, striking out five while allowing just one run after a solo home run to Justin Bour in the sixth inning.

The Zephyrs fell to three and a half games behind the Sounds in the Pacific Coast League American Southern division standings with the finale of this four-game series on Monday.