It's over! The baseball gods finally winked at Red Wings as 19-game losing streak ends

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When you lose 19 consecutive baseball games, it isn’t all because you played poorly. Along the way, you certainly experience moments of flat out bad luck, and make no mistake, the Rochester Red Wings had endured plenty of both.

So in the bottom of the sixth inning Thursday afternoon at Frontier Field, it was about time the Red Wings enjoyed a little good fortune, and because of that the misery is over as they went on to defeat Norfolk 5-4 to end what was, by seven games, the longest losing streak in franchise history.

“It was pretty good,” relieved manager Matt LeCroy said of the playoff-winning type celebration that took place in the clubhouse. “I did a couple of dances, beer shower which is always good, and just excitement. It’s funny it felt like a playoff game to us with what’s at stake and guys rose to the occasion. Just excited for the guys and hopefully we can get it going.”

Trailing 4-1, the Wings put together a four-run rally that included their own timely hitting, some shoddy pitching and fielding by the Tides, and a fortunate break that ignited the entire game-changing sequence.

Norfolk reliever Denyi Reyes hit Alex Call with the first pitch he threw after relieving effective Tides starter Bruce Zimmerman, and that brought Jake Noll to the plate.

On an 0-1 pitch, Noll hit a pop fly foul ball between home and third base, but somehow, neither Norfolk catcher Jacob Nottingham nor third baseman Gunnar Henderson could find it in the sky and it landed as softly and safely on the grass as a sparrow settling on a tree branch.

Two pitches later, Noll crushed a two-run homer way over the left-field wall to cut the Rochester deficit to 4-3 and the crowd of 5,359 could sense something might be happening, and they were right.

“It seemed like the baseball gods finally threw one in our favor right there,” said winning pitcher Logan Verrett. “Everybody’s had a good mentality this whole time, a good attitude about it this whole time, and we finally caught a break, which honestly probably seems like the first break that we’ve caught in three weeks.”

David Dahl and John Nogowski singled, they moved up to second and third on a wild pitch, and they scored on a Jake Alu sacrifice fly and a go-ahead Adrian Sanchez single.

“It’s weird, we’ve been snake bit like that these last 19 games where, whether it was a misplay or a walk, a line drive right at somebody with the bases loaded, stuff like that seemed to happen the whole time during this time and luckily for us, it turned today,” said LeCroy.

Here’s how the streak came to an end:

Where does the 19-game streak stand?

Jake Noll hit a big two-run homer to get the Wings within 4-3 on their way to a 5-4 victory Thursday.
Jake Noll hit a big two-run homer to get the Wings within 4-3 on their way to a 5-4 victory Thursday.

Trying to get information on what the longest losing streak in minor league baseball history is has been difficult, but this much is known - the Yakima Bears, a short-season A-ball affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, are safe as their 22-game losing streak is the longest that could be found.

The longest Major League Baseball losing streak since the start of the 20th century was 23 in a row by the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies, a year in which they went 47-107.

As for the Wings, this streak blew away their former franchise futility mark of 12 games in a row.

During the 19 games, the Wings were outscored 129-74, they batted just .235 as a team which was second-worst in the IL in that stretch, they gave up a league-worst 112 earned runs, and had 15 multi-error games.

Patrick Murphy pitched a season-high three innings

The 27-year-old right-handed Wings reliever had really struggled during the losing streak. In five appearances since it began he had been shredded for 17 runs (12 earned) in just six innings, so LeCroy, with permission from the Nationals, sent Murphy out to start the game as the opener.

The result was Murphy’s longest stint of the year, three innings in which he overcame a solo homer by Jordan Westburg on the seventh pitch he threw and retired the last eight men he faced, striking out three.

Logan Verrett then switched roles, too

LeCroy, in keeping with the role reversal, then went to one of his regular rotation men, Verrett, who hadn’t pitched since July 28 due to some back stiffness.

Verrett gave up two runs in the fourth, though one was unearned due to an error by John Nogowski at first. And Verrett also gave up a run in the sixth as Gunnar Henderson singled, moved to second on Verrett’s errant pickoff throw, stole third, and scored on Yusniel Diaz’s double.

But once the Wings took the lead, Verrett locked it in and finished off a five-inning relief stint with two scoreless innings - surviving a close call in the eighth when Jordan Westburg hit a deep fly ball that came about three feet shy of tying the game. Jordan Weems worked around a walk in the ninth to earn the save.

Wings struggled against Bruce Zimmerman

Things were not looking good early, though, for the Wings as they had no answers for Zimmerman.

The left-hander began the season with the Orioles but really struggled, pitching to a 5.85 ERA in 13 starts with a shocking 18 home runs allowed in 67.2 innings. He was sent down to Norfolk and has been with the Tides for most of the last month and a half and he’s been much better, as the Wings saw.

Zimmerman gave up a run in the first when C.J. Abrams singled, stole second and scored on Noll’s single, but otherwise was in complete control. He left after five innings with a 4-1 lead, having given up four hits and a walk.

He could be in line for a call-up to Baltimore soon as he has allowed just three earned runs in his last 17 innings across four starts.

John Nogowski filling in nicely at first

When the Nationals included first baseman Josh Bell in the Juan Soto trade to San Diego on Aug. 2, they called up the Wings most consistent hitter this season, Joey Meneses, to take Bell’s place.

For the 30-year-old Meneses it was a dream come true, his first call-up to the majors since his pro career began in 2011. Meneses has shared first base with Luke Voit, who came to Washington as part of the Soto trade, and in the seven games he has appeared, he has thrived.

After hitting 20 home runs for the Wings, Meneses has already cranked four for the Nationals and he’s batting .348 (8-for-23) with an OPS of 1.270.

Nogowski, who was released by the Braves and signed by the Nationals on June 22 and sent to Double-A Harrisburg, had a tough act to follow when he was recalled, and so far, he’s meeting the challenge.

In the loss to Norfolk Wednesday, Nogowski went 5-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. It was the first five-hit game of the 26-year-old’s pro career. The Wings’ only other five-hit game this year was by Andrew Stevenson back in May at Worcester.

He is now 13-for-29 (.448) since coming to Rochester.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Rochester Red Wings finally end brutal 19-game losing streak