The PawSox held on to win Game 1 of the Governors’ Cup Finals over Durham, 3-2. (Nice, blanket opening statement…)
The game within the game saw Pawtucket snap their 29-inning scoreless streak in Cup play, a stretch that went back to the 3rd inning of Game 2 of the 2013 Finals against these same Bulls. Travis Shaw broke that inauspicious run in the 1st inning with his 2-out RBI single back up the middle.
Shaw continues his torrid postseason at the plate as he’s hit .462 (6-for-13) with 2 doubles, a homer, 4 walks, 3 RBI and 5 runs scored. He has at least one hit in all four games Pawtucket has played thus far (all four wins).
Pawtucket added to their lead in the 2nd after Blake Swihart (5-for-10 in the playoffs) doubled and scored on Deven Marrero’s RBI single.
PawSox starter Edwin Escobar picked up right were he left off from his Game 1 start in the Semi-Finals against Syracuse where he went 8.2 innings and fell just an out short of a complete game shutout.
Through the first two frames, Escobar allowed just a bloop single and had struck out three. He did, however, run into a little trouble in the 3rd, his lone “rough” inning of his start. With one out, Escobar allowed back to back singles before a softly hit ground ball advanced runners to second and third with two out. Mikie Mahtook, a former 1st round out of LSU and Post Season All-Star in IL, singled back up the middle to plate both runners and tie the game 2-2.
One common theme to this 2014 PawSox club is that they respond quickly after giving up runs. Game 1 of the Finals was no different. Again, with one out, Ryan Lavarnway singled and Alex Hassan singled putting runners on the corners. Garin Cecchini, who has been a big time run producer in the playoffs and led the team in the regular season, battled with starter Enny Romero for 11 pitches before lifting a sacrifice fly to deep left to put Pawtucket in front 3-2.
Escobar, after his hiccup in the 3rd, dominated over the his final 4 innings. He allowed just a pair of singles and did not allow any Bull to reach scoring position. In all, the 22-year-old lefty (acquired in the Jake Peavy trade in July with San Francisco) went 7 innings allowing 2 ER, on 6 hits (all singles) and 5 strikeouts. He did not walk a batter, the second straight start he had not issued a free pass. Now his total Playoff numbers are 15.2 IP, 3 ER (1.72 ERA), 12 hits, ZERO walks, and 12 strikeouts. That’s what you like to see out of your Game 1 starter.
The bullpen came in still leading by just a run in the 8th. Dalier Hinojosa got a fly out for the 1st out, before issuing a walk. He then struck out Mahtook for the second out. With a lefty coming to the plate, Manager Kevin Boles went to lefty Ryan Verdugo out of the bullpen, who hadn’t pitched since the 28th of August in Lehigh Valley. After getting ahead, Verdugo issued a walk to put the tying run in scoring position. Those, by the way, were the first walks in the game. Heath Hembree was summoned from the bullpen, the 3rd pitcher used in the frame, to face former 1st overall pick in the 2008 draft, Tim Beckham. The two battled for 8 pitches before Hembree finally blew him away with a high fastball to end the 8th, stranding a pair of runners.
In the 9th, Hembree went out to convert a four out save. On the first pitch, Vince Belnome singled. After a strikeout, Wilson Betemit drew a walk. Ray Olmedo, the 33-year-old veteran, singled to right field. Bulls’ Manager Charlie Montoyo had a choice, send the runner from second and try to tie the game, or hold him up. After initially waving the runner home, Montoyo put up an emphatic stop sign as his runner touched third leaving the bases loaded.
Hindsight is always 20/20…but had he sent the runner, the play at the plate would have been really close. Alex Hassan’s throw was on line, but was deflected by the cut-off man Shaw. Had it gone all the way through…your guess is as good as mine.
When the goin’ got tough, Hembree got goin’. He struck out his former teammate in the Giants Organization, Justin Christian on three pitches, two sliders then some high cheese for the second out. One more man to get, the pesky Cole Figueroa…
Game 1 was in the books…albeit a sweaty palmed, drama filled 3-2 victory.
Brian Johnson will make his Triple-A debut tonight in Game 2. He was 13-3 with an organization leading 2.13 ERA in his time with both Salem and Portland. He won the Eastern League ERA title putting up a 1.75 ERA in 20 starts with the Sea Dogs. Johnson will be opposed by RHP Alex Colome, who tossed 8 shutout innings against Pawtucket June 5th in Durham.
It’s the final game at McCoy Stadium, no matter what…So if you haven’t seen a game in 2014, tonight is your last chance!
Thanks for reading and Go PawSox!
The Boston Red Sox today promoted three heralded players to Pawtucket from Double-A Portland and all three will be active and on the PawSox Governors’ Cup Roster. OF Rusney Castillo, LHP Brian Johnson, and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez will be with the PawSox when they begin the Governors’ Cup Finals vs. the Durham Bulls tonight at McCoy Stadium. Castillo will lead-off for the PawSox tonight and play CF. Johnson will start Game 2 tomorrow night in Pawtucket and Rodriguez will start Game 4 (if necessary) Friday night in Durham.
Games 1 & 2 of this best 3 out of 5 championship series will be tonight and tomorrow night both at 7:05 pm at McCoy. The series will move to Durham for Game 3 on Thursday at 7:05 pm with Games 4 & 5 if necessary on Friday & Saturday also in Durham at 7:05 pm.
Rusney Castillo, 27, signed a seven-year major league with Boston on August 23 after defecting from Cuba in December of 2013. He made his Red Sox organizational debut with the Gulf Coast Rookie Red Sox during their Championship Series victory over the Yankees playing in Games 2 and 3 of that series on August 31 and September 1 (going 1-for-5 with a walk and RBI in those two games). Rusney (pronounced roos-NAY) was assigned to Double-A Portland this past Wednesday (September 3) and he appeared in four games for the Sea Dogs during their playoff semi-final series loss to Binghamton, 3 games to 2. Castillo played in Games 1, 3, 4 and 5 going 5-for-14 (.357) with 2 2B, 1 BB, 2 RBI, 1 SB, and 4 runs scored. He played 3 games in CF and was the DH in Game 5.
The 5’9”, 205 lbs. Castillo last played in Cuba during the 2012-13 season when he hit .274 with 6 HR & 29 RBI in 68 games for Ciego de Avila in Cuba’s major league, Serie Nacional. He spent all five seasons with his hometown team, Ciego de Availa, hitting .319 with 75 2B, 11 3B, 51 HR, and 76 SB in 360 career games. In 2011-12 he hit .342 in 113 games with 21 HR to lead Ciego de Availa to the Series Nacional Championship. In 2011, Castillo also represented Cuba in the Baseball World Cup and the Pan American Games. He established residency in Haiti before signing with the Red Sox.
Brian Johnson, 23, was 10-2 with a Double-A best 1.75 ERA in 20 starts for Portland this season. His ERA was the lowest in the Eastern League since 1985 when Brad Arnsberg of Albany led the league with a 1.59 ERA. Johnson finished the season as the Sea Dogs’ franchise leader in single season and career ERA (both records were held by Jon Lester). Brian began this year with Single-A Salem (3-1, 3.86 in 5 GS) so overall was 13-3 with a 2.13 ERA in 25 starts this season. He pitched Game 1 of the Eastern League playoffs on September 3 at Binghamton leaving with a 5-2 lead after 7-innings in a game the Mets came back to win, 8-5 – 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO.
Johnson was a sandwich pick of the Red Sox between the 1st and 2nd rounds (31st overall) in the 2012 June draft out of the University of Florida (where he was a star pitcher and 1B/DH) as compensation for the Red Sox losing Jonathan Papelbon to free agency. Last season he posted a 2.54 ERA in 19 starts spent mainly at Single-A Greenville. This season he was brilliant for Double-A Portland allowing 2 earned runs or less in 19 of his 20 starts. From July 12 through the end of the regular-season he allowed 1 earned run or no runs in each of his final 8 starts going 3-0 with a 0.68 ERA (4 ER in 53.1 IP). His final line with Portland – 10-2, 1.75 ERA in 20 GS with 2 CG – 118 IP, 78 H, 29 R, 23 ER, 32 BB, 99 SO, .189 opponent average.
Eduardo Rodriguez, 21, was acquired by Boston from Baltimore (Double-A Bowie) on July 31 in exchange for LHP Andrew Miller. Eduardo was outstanding after joining Portland going 3-1 with a 0.96 ERA in 6 starts for the Sea Dogs (all during the month of August) – 37.1 IP, 30 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 8 BB, 39 SO – holding opponents to a .222 average. He allowed 1 run or less in all 6 starts pitching at least into the 6th-inning in all as well. Rodriguez also started Game 3 of the Eastern League semi-finals at home against Binghamton on September 5 receiving no-decision in a 6-3 Portland win – 6.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO.
Rodriguez entered the 2014 season as the #3 prospect in the Orioles system behind only pitchers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. He was the Opening Day starter for Double-A Bowie this season (April 3rd) and went 3-7 with a 4.79 ERA in 16 starts for the Baysox before being dealt to Boston. The Venezuelan native appeared for the World Team in the 2013 MLB Futures Game at Citi Field in New York. In five professional seasons he has a career ERA of 3.26 along with 418 strikeouts in 486.1 innings pitched.
For a full preview of the series, follow this link for a preview from IL Assistant to the President, Chris Sprague.
Let’s Go PawSox!
It’s a rematch…PawSox and Durham for the Governors’ Cup in 2014. These same two teams matched up in last years finals with the Bulls winning the series in four games (and celebrated at McCoy Stadium). This will be the third match-up in the finals between the two clubs, they also met in 2003, won, again, by Durham.
Before we get into the match-up between the PawSox and Bulls, we must go back to how we got to here.
In the last post, we talked about the wild 2-1, 10-inning victory for Pawtucket on Wednesday night to grab a 1-0 series lead over Syracuse.
Game 2 was utterly dominated by Pawtucket from the first pitch of the game. The PawSox offense staked starter Matt Barnes to a three run lead after the 1st inning (an RBI double by Travis Shaw, and RBI ground out by Ryan Lavarnway and an RBI single by Garin Cecchini).
That would be all the run support Barnes would need. After he allowed a lead-off infield single in the 2nd, Barnes retired the next 13 batters in a row. After a one-out 6th inning double, Barnes got the next four. In the 7th, a two out single (just the third hit for the Chiefs) led to a ground out to first which closed the book for Barnes.
The totals: 7 innings. 0 Runs. 3 hits. ZERO walks and 6 strikeouts. He retired 18 of the final 20 batters he faced and only ONE Chiefs batter reached 2nd base against him. AND he only failed to throw a 1st pitch strike to 7 of 24 batters faced. That’s working ahead and staying ahead!
Barnes’ string of excellence continued. Over his final 6 starts of the regular season, the former 1st rounder went 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA (10 ER/41.2 IP) with 38 strikeouts, only 10 walks and opponents hit just .164 against him. Those figures don’t include his playoff start Thursday.
Through the first two games of the series, PawSox starters Edwin Escboar and Matt Barnes had combined to throw 15.2 innings allowing just ONE run on 9 hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts.
For good measure, the PawSox offense built an 8-0 lead after 7 innings after plating three in the 6th and two more in the 7th.
Garin Cecchini, a day after winning Game 1 in the 10th, went 4-for-4 with a triple, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. The man who hit behind him in the order, Ryan Roberts, went 3-for-4 with a double and 3 RBI. Combined, the two were 7-for-8 with a double, a triple, 5 RBI and three runs scored in the PawSox 8-2 blowout to take the first two games of the series.
Needing just one more win in Syracuse to clinch a berth in the Governors’ Cup Finals. Pawtucket went to lefty/mega-prospect Henry Owens to try and seal the series. Owens, coincidentally, was on the hill Sunday night (and into Monday morning) and got the win when the PawSox clinched the Wild Card.
Owens has been plagued in his brief Triple-A career big the “big inning”. In four of his six starts in August, Owens allowed 3 runs or more in an inning. BUT, for the majority, those would be the only runs he’d allow over the course of the start.
Friday night, it was the 2nd inning that would be Owens’ tough one as he allowed the Chiefs to score four times (two on a two-run double by Will Rhymes and two on a two-run homer from Manny Burriss). Entering play Friday, Syracuse had score a TOTAL of three runs in the first two games of the series. But, they held a 4-0 lead after two. Bear-in-mind that Syracuse did not lose a game that they held at least a four-run lead in ALL SEASON.
Pawtucket, as they did throughout the season, would chip away. They’d plate two in the 3rd thanks to a throwing error on a routine double-play by Will Rhymes on the rally to 1st, and a two-out RBI single by Bryce Brentz.
They’d tack on another in the 4th on a two-out RBI double by Alex Hassan (who batted lead-off for the first time since April 24th after Jackie Bradley Jr. was recalled by Boston before the game) to make it s 4-3 game.
Owens, despite the rough 2nd, got through a scoreless third before loading the bases with no outs in the 4th. To me, this was the key inning. Syracuse led by one and the PawSox could ill afford to trail by any more than two facing a tough bullpen over the final six frames. Owens, I thought, did his best pitching in this inning after the bases were loaded. He’d strike out #2 batter Michael Taylor on a change-up down in the zone before allowing a sacrifice fly to IL RBI leader Brandon Laird to make the score 5-3. Giving up just the sac-fly was key as Owens struck out Destin Hood on yet another change-up to end the inning with the PawSox still within striking distance.
Owens would leave after that strikeout allowing a Triple-A season high of 5 runs on 8 hits while walking 3 and striking out 6. He’d throw 86 pitches, 52 for strikes and only faced SIX batters out of the wind up all night. That’s a ton of high-stress pitching.
After a scoreless 5th for both clubs, PawSox OF Corey Brown did this…
After he lead the team with 17 homers in the regular season, Brown brought Pawtucket within one again, 5-4. The Tampa, FL native, who had played parts of the 2011 thru 2013 seasons with Syracuse would up hitting five homers against his former organization during the season (that blast included). Two of those homers gave the PawSox the lead.
Syracuse, again, padded their lead, this time against reliever Dalier Hinojosa in the 6th on an RBI single by Laird to give them their two-run lead back, 6-4.
Into the 7th down and pair, the PawSox had to face lefty Matt Grace. The former UCLA Bruin had had a fantastic 2014 season between Double-A Harrisburg and Syracuse amassing a 5-1 record with a 1.17 ERA (10 ER/77 IP) and holding opponents to a .211 batting average in 50 games. Pawtucket had scored ONE run against Grace in the regular season (including 2 scoreless innings in Game 1).
Grace would strikeout the first batter in the inning. Travis Shaw followed with an infield single to shortstop. Brentz then doubled off the center field fence putting the tying run at 2nd base. Up came Ryan Lavarnway, who was 0-for-10 in the series having stranded 9 men on base. But with the game on the line and a 1-2 count…
Clutch for Lavarnway who has battled a broken Hamate bone and concussion like symptoms this season to tie the game for the first time since it was 0-0 in the 2nd.
Cecchini followed by hitting a ground ball to the right side. Will Rhymes dove into the hole between 1st and 2nd and tried to get the lead runner Lavarnway at second base. However, his throw was not a good one and it got by Burriss and all the way into foul territory down the left field line allowing Lavarwnway to move to third and Cecchini up to second.
Grace battled back to strike out Corey Brown for the second out. It was then 22-year-old Blake Swihart’s turn. He wasted no time going after the 1st pitch.
For the 1st time in the game, the PawSox held the lead, 7-6, thanks to Swihart’s speed to get up the first base line to beat Burriss’ throw from the hole.
Pawtucket went to Jose Valdez out of the bullpen for the 7th. Valdez had pitched sparingly in the regular season, just 11 games, but he was thrust into action needing to cover some critical innings after Hinojosa’s two frames (1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB).
Valdez walked the lead-off man (uh-oh)…but then got a ground out to force out the runner at 2nd base. After another walk, the PawSox 7th issued in the game, Josh Johnson strode to the plate with the tying run at 2nd base.
A unique double play…Honestly, I’d never seen anything like it in my career broadcasting OR playing. For Ryan Roberts, he was at the right place at the right time and Eury Perez, the runner at 2nd, a horrendous read of the line drive. The Chief’s loss was the PawSox gain. Six outs away from a trip to the finals and a series sweep.
Valdez then retired the first two batters in the 8th, Burriss (the first time he’d been retired all night) and Michael Taylor before giving way to closer Heath Hembree to try and get a four-out save.
Hembree made things interesting after allowing a single and a walk to, AGAIN, put the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first. Roberts came up with another clutch play being at the right place at the right time (yours truly on the call).
Three more outs to get.
Hembree went out for the 9th. He’d get a routine fly ball to left for the first out. Eury Perez fouled out to Shaw at 1st for the second out. One more out to get and it was Will Rhymes at the plate (my call).
To get a visual of the play (Kevin Brown of Syracuse on the call)
That completed the comeback…it completed the second playoff series sweep in franchise history (2012 Governors’ Cup Finals vs. Charlotte the other)…And it completed one of the oddest games I’d ever seen. Not many times does a club get away with allowing 19 base runners (11 hits and 8 walks), but the PawSox did and earned their 3rd straight berth into the Governors’ Cup Finals.
The PawSox/Bulls finals will be the first rematch in Cup Finals since 2008-2009 when Scranton beat Durham in 2008 but Durham beat Scranton in 2009. Before that you’d have to go back to 1996-97 for a rematch in Cup Finals when Columbus beat Rochester in 1996 but then Rochester beat Columbus in 1997. So, odds are in our favor!
Game 1 of the Finals will be at McCoy Stadium Tuesday night at 7:05pm. Pitching probables are TBD. Game 2 will be Wednesday, also at 7:05pm. Great tickets are still available, so stop by the stadium, give the office a call (410) 724-7300, or visit pawsox.com to get your tickets.
Pawtucket did win the season series against Durham, 5-3. The PawSox split their four games in Durham while taking 3-of-4 at McCoy. The two teams have not seen each other since July 1st.
A more in-depth preview of the series will be coming up Monday.
What a week!
Let’s go PawSox…time to bring the cup back to Pawtucket for the second time in three years!
Thanks for reading!
It was a playoff atmosphere at McCoy Stadium on Wednesday night and the PawSox sent the faithful home happy with a 2-1 walk-off win in the 10th inning to give Pawtucket a 1-0 lead in the Best of 5 Semi-Finals against Syracuse.
PawSox starter, Edwin Escobar, dealt. He matched a career high with 8.2 innings of work and fell just one out short of his first career complete game shutout. But that was not the story. Escobar, who hadn’t made a start since a disastrous 2.1 IP, 9 R, 11 H effort August 23rd in Buffalo, came out dealing in the 1st inning. He threw 15 pitches and stranded a runner at 2nd base in that 1st frame, the most in any inning ALL NIGHT!
Escobar retired eight in row two different times in the game. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven. The runner that got to 2nd in the first frame, was one of only three total batters that reached scoring position in the game for the Chiefs. With Pawtucket leading 1-0 with two outs in the 9th, All-Star third baseman Brandon Laird took a 2-1 fastball and clobbered it over the left field fence to tie the game. It was Escobar’s 99th pitch and his only mistake in the game.
Overall, it was the best outing of the season for Escobar. Utterly dominant from pitch number 1 through pitch 98 (we’ll forget about the 99th). Heath Hembree would pitch the final 1.1 innings retiring all four batters he faced in order.
A big thanks needs to go to the San Francisco Giants. Without them, the PawSox don’t have either Escobar OR Hembree. Remember, those two were acquired by Boston for Jake Peavy in July this year.
The PawSox plated the games 1st run with one swing of the bat from Travis Shaw on the first pitch of the bottom of the 6th. For Shaw, who slugged 10 homers in the regular season, it was his 1st post season home run and an absolute no doubter.
Shaw finished 2-for-3 with 2 walks and that huge homer run.
Blake Swihart finished last night’s game 3-for-4 with 3 singles and caught Escobar’s gem.
Bryce Brentz had a big game going 3-for-5 with critical double that led off the bottom of the 10th inning. After his double, both Shaw and Lavarnway walked to set up Garin Cecchini’s walk-off heroics.
It was the first time since 1997 that Pawtucket had a walk-off win in the playoffs. Then it was Jason Varitek’s sacrifice fly that plated Lou Merloni to give the PawSox a 4-3 win over Rochester (their only win in that series).
Tonight’s Game 2 features Matt Barnes (8-9, 3.95 ERA) against Scott McGregor (1-2, 3.91 ERA). Barnes has arguably been the best pitcher in the IL single the All-Star Break. He’s 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA over 8 starts with 46 k’s in 53 innings while only issuing 15 BB and allowing opponents a .167 average (31-for-186). McGregor signed as a free agent with Washington in late June (after being released by St. Louis, whom he was drafted by in the 15th round of 2008 out of Memphis). The PawSox beat McGregor last Friday 2-1 on a two-run homer by Ryan Lavarnway.
After a big win last night, the PawSox need to keep the momentum tonight. With a win in Game 2, the PawSox could go up 2-0 heading to Syracuse needing just ONE victory on the road to send Pawtucket to the Governors’ Cup Finals for the third straight year.
In a 10-4 victory over Rochester in the wee hours Monday morning, following a 3:28 long game that also featured a two hour and 28 minute delay in the middle, the PawSox celebrated a berth into the International League Playoffs. It’s their 4th straight playoff appearance, a franchise record.
That’s how a playoff team celebrates…in style!
Congrats to a special bunch…It’s been quite the ride.
Pawtucket will match up with Syracuse in the Divisional Round, a best of 5. The Syracuse Chiefs, who won the IL North regular-season championship on Saturday night at McCoy Stadium, will return to McCoy in two days to start the 1st round. Pawtucket will host Syracuse in Game 1 of the IL semi-finals on Wednesday at 7:05 pm at McCoy. Game 2 will be Thursday at 7:05 pm also at McCoy. The series will then shift to NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse for the final three games (the last two if necessary) on Friday at 7:00 pm, Saturday at 7:00 pm, and Sunday at 1:00 pm. Pawtucket and Syracuse have met just once in the playoffs and it came 20 years (since 1994) when the Chiefs defeated the PawSox, 3 games to 1 to win the IL East Championship.
Also, tickets for all possible 2014 PawSox playoff games at McCoy Stadium are on sale now at the Box Office at McCoy. Fans can also charge tickets with any major credit card by calling the PawSox at (401) 724-7300 or visiting the PawSox website at http://www.pawsox.com. If the PawSox win their semi-final series vs. Syracuse they would advance to the Governors’ Cup Finals to play the winner of the Durham vs. Columbus series. Games 1 and 2 of the Governors’ Cup Finals would be at McCoy on September 9 & 10 both at 7:05 pm.
Let’s go PawSox!
Thanks for reading
The Boston Red Sox today acquired infielder/outfielder Jemile Weeks and minor league infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr. from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for infielder/outfielder Kelly Johnson and minor league third baseman Michael Almanzar.
Executive Vice President/General Manager Ben Cherington made the announcement.
Weeks, 27, appeared in only three games for Orioles this season and was 3-for-11 (.273) with a triple and two runs scored. A switch-hitter, he has spent the majority of 2014 with Triple-A Norfolk in Baltimore’s minor league system. In his 63 games there, Weeks hit .280 (58-for-207) with 12 doubles, four triples, one home run, 19 RBI, and 28 runs scored. With Double-A Norfolk, he totaled more walks (37) than strikeouts (30). For his major league career, he has hit .259 (225-for-870) with 41 doubles, 17 triples, four home runs, and 56 RBI in 226 games between the Oakland Athletics (2011-13) and Orioles (2014). The younger brother of Milwaukee Brewers infielder Rickie Weeks, Jemile was a first-round selection of the Athletics (12th overall) in the 2008 June Draft. He was originally selected by Milwaukee in the eighth round of the 2005 June Draft, but elected to play baseball at the University of Miami.
De Jesus Jr., 27, spent all of 2014 with the Orioles’ Norfolk affiliate, where he was named to the International League’s mid-season All-Star Team. He hit .282 (116-for-411) with 19 doubles, five triples, five homers, 56 RBI, and 50 walks in 113 games and appeared at shortstop (98 games), second base (8), and third base (1). The right-handed batter has a .205 average with three doubles and five RBI in 48 career major league games over parts of two seasons between the Los Angeles Dodgers (2011-12) and Red Sox (2012). De Jesus Jr. was first acquired by the Red Sox on August 25, 2012 as part of the nine-player deal that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers. He played in eight games for Boston in the final month of September 2012 and went 0-for-8 at the plate. The son of 15-year major league veteran shortstop Ivan De Jesus, Sr., he was the Dodgers’ second-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft and has hit .298 with 178 doubles, 22 triples, 38 home runs, 421 RBI, and 73 stolen bases in 945 career minor league games.
Johnson, 32, was acquired from the New York Yankees on July 31 and played in 10 games for the Red Sox after being activated from the 15-day disabled list on August 7. The left-handed batter went 4-for-25 (.160) with a double and an RBI for Boston, appearing at first base (5 games, 4 starts), third base (2 games, 1 start), second base (1 game), and left field (1 game). In 87 games between the Red Sox and Yankees in 2014, Johnson has hit .212 (48-for-226) with 10 doubles, two triples, six home runs, and 23 RBI. A nine-year major league veteran, Johnson has hit .250 with 201 doubles, 40 triples, 130 home runs, 465 RBI, 81 stolen bases, and 462 walks in 1,138 career games between the Braves (2005, 2007-09), Diamondbacks (2010-11), Blue Jays (2011-12), Rays (2013), Yankees (2014), and Red Sox (2014).
Almanzar, 23, was acquired by the Orioles during the Rule 5 Draft this past December and returned to the Red Sox organization on July 1. The right-handed batter played in nine games in the Orioles system between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, High-A Frederick, and Triple-A Norfolk. In the Red Sox system, he has played 49 games this season, all with Double-A Portland, batting .277 (46-for-166) with nine doubles, five homers, 25 RBI, and 12 walks. Originally signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2007, Almanzar has hit .251 with a 147 doubles, 12 triples, 55 home runs, and 333 RBI over seven minor league seasons.
Two playoff tickets have been punched with Durham clinching the South on Monday and Columbus securing the West Tuesday. So those two teams will match up against each other in the Divisional round.
The other two playoff spots? Well, those are still up for grabs with four teams in the mix, including the PawSox. With just four games to go, Syracuse leads the North by 2.5 games over Pawtucket, with the Sox hosting the Chiefs over the next two nights.
Pawtucket owns the lead in the wild card by the smallest of margins, 1.5 games over Buffalo and 2 games over Rochester. While the Red Wings cannot win the division, they’re still alive in the wild card hunt. Both Syracuse and Buffalo will only play 143 games as each had a contest cancelled this season. So they’ll either win the division/wild card outright or not at all. If the season ends and the wild card is tied between Rochester and the PawSox, there would be no playoff game. The tiebreaker is head to head record (which is currently tied), divisional record (also tied right now), record against 1st place teams (tied too), then run differential (PawSox have the edge at the moment)…and if it’s still even, a coin flip would determine who wins the wild card. That scenario, crazily enough, is still in play if Pawtucket loses two against Syracuse, Rochester sweeps Buffalo and then the two split their final two games Sunday/Monday.
Syracuse had a chance to clinch at least a playoff berth yesterday, but lost to Rochester 6-3. The Sox, meanwhile, picked up an 8-5 win over Lehigh Valley in a brisk 3:52 to gain a game in division and stave off the charging Herd (Buffalo), who beat Scranton/WB 11-3.
Today marks the 85th straight day the Chiefs have been in 1st place in the IL North. Syracuse has a magic number of just one to officially beat out Buffalo and clinch at least the Wild Card, while the Chiefs’ magic number to secure the division over Pawtucket remains at two. One other team has a clear path to the postseason if it can win out, and that is the Rochester Red Wings. Rochester would own the tiebreaker with Pawtucket if the Red Wings sweep the PawSox in the two-game series at Pawtucket this Sunday and Monday (the teams have split their previous 14 meetings this season). Rochester is no stranger to late-season dramatics, having clinched the final entry into the 2013 playoffs on the final day of the regular season. Last September, Gene Glynn’s club had to win its last three games and do a little scoreboard watching before finally capturing the Wild Card on Labor Day.
With all that said, if the PawSox take care of their own business at McCoy over the weekend, they’ll be playoff punching for a franchise record 4th straight season.
The PawSox pitching staff, which has not had a clean turn through the rotation since July, is set up for a good run despite the tired bullpen arms (5 spot starts in August). Brandon Workman slides into Anthony Ranaudo’s vacant rotation seat (he’ll be pitching for Boston tonight in Tampa Bay, his 3rd big league start) to start tonight, Matt Barnes (arguably the best pitcher in the IL since the All_Star Break) goes Saturday, Henry Owens is on schedule to start Sunday in the series opener against Rochester and Steven Wright would start the regular season finale on Monday afternoon. All of this, of course as we have learned in August, is subject to change. Pawtucket has now made 66 roster transactions in August and 194 overall on the season.
It’ll be a wild weekend at McCoy with playoff spots on the line for every team in town over the weekend. Playoff tickets for all possible 2014 PawSox playoff games at McCoy Stadium are on sale at the Box Office at McCoy, just in case. Fans can also order by phone by calling the PawSox at (401) 724-7300 or by visiting pawsox.com.
Thanks for reading…#Its4theCup
On the strength of his League-leading 14 wins and a 2.61ERA over 24 starts, Pawtucket’s Anthony Ranaudo has been named the 2014 International League Most Valuable Pitcher.
Ranaudo is currently 2nd in the League in ERA to Liam Hendriks of Buffalo, who is now pitching in the Pacific Coast League following a trade and won’t accumulate enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. Opposing batters are hitting just .223 against Ranaudo, the lowest average against any IL starter.
The 6’7″ righthander is in his rookie season at the Triple-A level after going 3-1 in six appearances last year in limited action for Pawtucket. He also made his Major League debut earlier this month, picking up a win for Boston against the Yankees on August 1 and another at Cincinnati on August 13 in his second career MLB start. He leads all of professional baseball with 16 total wins.
Ranaudo was a “sandwich pick” for the Red Sox between the 1st and 2nd rounds of the 2010 draft. He was the Double-A Eastern League’s Pitcher of the Year last season. The 24-year-old Ranaudo becomes the seventh IL Most Valuable Pitcher in PawSox history and the first since Charlie Zink in 2008.
As in wiggle room for the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Well…There are still eight games to go (four on the road, four at home) for the PawSox in 2014, but their lead in the Wild Card is now gone after three straight losses.
Coming into this four game set with Buffalo, Pawtucket held a two game lead on the Bisons. Losses of 15-2 Saturday and 10-6 in extra inning Sunday dwindled that advantage to nil.
The back to back games allowing double digit runs is a first this season for the PawSox staff. In fact, Pawtucket had allowed double digits TWICE the whole season before the weekend. It was the first time since June 28 and June 29, 2013 that the pitching staff had allowed 10 runs or more in consecutive games. Another note about the weekend, in particular the Saturday loss, it was the first time the PawSox had allowed more than 14 runs since May 22, 2010 when the Sox lost to Durham 18-1.
Back to Sunday. A 0-0 game into the 5th, PawSox ace Anthony Ranaudo gave up solo homers to Brett Wallace and George Kottaras (both acquired by Buufalo within the last two months, Kottaras at the beginning of August, Wallace after the All-Star break). Those would be the only runs he would allow while he was physically on the hill.
Ranuado battled command issues all afternoon, especially with his fastball (a rarity). Of his 95 pitches, only 53 were strikes, one of his lowest strike percentages of the season. The former 1st rounder would end up going 6.1 innings and allowed 4 ER (he left with two men on base and Dalier Hinojosa allowed a game tying three-run homer to Anthony Gose in the 7th). But his dominance over Buffalo in his career is still rather incredible. Since making his debut in Buffalo August 4th, 2013, Ranaudo has started 5 times against the Bisons. He is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA (5 ER/31.2 IP). And four of those runs were scored Sunday. He had a chance to add to his IL leading win total, but, as mentioned prior, Hinojosa squandered the lead.
Dalier, who had not allowed a single run in the month of August before Sunday, coughed up a pair of leads, one in the 7th and one in the 8th, on two homers (the Gose 3-run shot and Wallace’ 2nd of the game).
A bright spot on the hill in this series has been Drake Britton. He fired a season high 2.2 innings and retired all 8 batters he faced, including 3 strikeouts. Over his last three outings, Britton has not been scored upon. It;s the 1st time since May that Drake has had a stretch of scoreless relief..and it is GREAT to see his confidence back again.
On the offensive side of things, Bryce Brentz continues to blast homers and drive in runs since returning from the disabled list (hamstring) August 2nd. In 17 games in August, Brentz is hitting .261 (18-for-69) with 3 doubles, a triple (really was a homer, but the umpires missed it) and 5 homers with 19 RBI. He drove in four runs in Sunday’s loss in Buffalo matching a season high (previously done April 29 @ Lehigh Valley on a grand slam).
Dan Butler had three more hits, his second straight game with three knocks and is 6-for-12 since his return from the big leagues. He also gunned down a runner at 2nd base and back picked a runner at 1st base Sunday afternoon.
Garin Cecchini also continues to turn around his season in August. Since his average hit a low water mark of .236 August 7th, Garin has hits in 12 of 14 games and his average is up to .257 after another 3 hits game Sunday. His RBI double in the 8th had given the PawSox a 6-5 lead for the moment, but it also gave him the team lead in the RBI department with 51. On the season, Cecchini has played 107 games and has reached base with a hit or a walk in 92 of them.
The PawSox will have to turn things around quickly and they’ll have an opportunity to do so Monday at 7:05. Matt Barnes takes the mound and he has been one of the best pitchers in the IL since the All-Star Break. Overall, he’s 7-8 with a 3.89 ERA, but since the break he’s 3-1 with a 1.63 ERA (7ER/38.2 IP) and opponents are hitting just .150 against him in 6 starts. His K/BB ratio is also 32/13…Oh, and he’s given up just 3 runs over 4 starts in August.
The Wild Card lead is up for grabs tonight…should be a fun one in Buffalo.
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Another day and another move for the PawSox here in August. Since the trade deadline July 31, the PawSox have already been involved in 47 player transactions.
Today, the PawSox added Dan Butler after he was optioned from Boston earlier with C David Ross coming off the DL for the Red Sox. In the clubhouse now sit four catchers, Blake Swihart, Butler, Ryan Lavarnway and Matt Spring who is currently on the disabled list. Butler was recalled to Boston on August 2 when Ross went on the DL and he made his Major League debut with the Red Sox on August 10 in Anaheim. In 3 games for the Red Sox (all as catcher) he was 0-for-11 with a walk. In 76 games for the PawSox (47 as catcher) he is hitting .227 with 17 2B, 4 HR and 28 RBI.
This move is on the heels of Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. swapping spots, in essence, on Monday. The numbers on JBJ in Boston this year have been well documented, as have Betts’ in Double-A and Triple-A for that matter, and this promotion for Betts gives him a two-week, uninterrupted opportunity with the Red Sox. For Bradley, it’s a chance to get his bat going before September hits. JBJ was hitting just .216 in 112 games with Boston before being optioned. He hit .275 in 80 games with a career high 10 homers in 2013 with the PawSox.
A PawSox roster spot for Butler became available late this afternoon when Alex Hassan was recalled to Boston (the Red Sox optioned RHP Steven Wright back to Pawtucket – although Wright has not yet been added to the PawSox roster). Hassan will be making his second trip to Boston this season as he was recalled on May 30 and made his big league debut with the Red Sox on June 1 going 1-for-3 vs. Tampa Bay at Fenway. In 2 games with the Red Sox (both in the outfield) he was 1-for-7 before being optioned back to Pawtucket on June 9. Hassan has been one of Pawtucket’s hottest hitters since his return batting .367 in June, .330 in July, and .290 in August. Overall in 104 games for the PawSox he is hitting .282 with a team-high 29 doubles along with 8 HR & 50 RBI (his 50 RBI tied for the PawSox lead with Garin Cecchini).
Rehabbing Red Sox OF/1B Allen Craig did not play last night but will play RF and bat 2nd tonight. He was Pawtucket’s DH Monday night going 0-for-2 with a walk. Craig, 30, who was placed on the disabled list on August 5 (retro to August 2) with a left foot sprain, injured his foot while running the bases in the 8th-inning during the Red Sox game against the Yankees on August 1 at Fenway Park (he hit first base awkwardly). Acquired from St. Louis along with RHP Joe Kelly for RHP John Lackey on July 31, Craig went 1-for-4 with a double in his Red Sox debut on August 1 (his only game played to date with Boston). In 97 games for the Cardinals and 1 game for the Red Sox this season he is hitting .237 with 18 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR and 44 RBI.
A 2013 National League All-Star, Craig ranked 4th in the NL with a .312 batting average combined over the last three seasons (2011-13) while helping St. Louis reach the post-season in all three years – including the World Series title in 2011 and a World Series loss to the Red Sox in 2013.
INF Ryan Roberts was also activated from the PawSox DL two days ago (left ankle sprain) and INF Mike McCoy was placed on the disabled list with a left calf strain.
Get all that? There may even be more moves in the coming days as well.
Matt Barnes will get the start for the PawSox Wednesday night against Lehigh Valley. He has been spectacular since the All-Star break going 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA (7ER/32.1IP) allowing just 18 hits, 10 BB while striking out 25 batters. Opponents are hitting just .161 against him in that time as well.
Only 13 games to go and the PawSox are just 3 games back in the North Division behind Syracuse and 2 games up on Rochester in the Wild Card.
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