Results tagged ‘ Mark Melancon ’

Sunday Conversation with Arnie Beyeler

As the PawSox wrap-up their four-game series tonight against the Toledo Mud Hens, I had a chance to sit down and chat with former ‘Hens infielder – and current PawSox manager – Arnie Beyeler.

Arnie’s reaction to last night’s seven-run 8th inning:

“These guys showed a lot of character. You don’t see [a seven-run inning] very often. These guys have done a good job all year. We talk to them about playing  hard nine innings every night and last night they didn’t quit. They did a great job.”

On Ryan Lavarnway’s go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning:

“He’s a threat every time he comes to the plate. Part of his development is getting to catch everyday this year. It has probably taken a toll on him from a durability standpoint – how strong he feels everyday. It’s always nice to see guys succeed when they get big opportunities.”

Beyeler played in 29 games with Toledo in 1991 where he hit .174 with two doubles and two RBI before retiring from playing. (PawSox.com)

Regarding how he thought Dice-K pitched last night:

“I thought he did a nice job of throwing strikes. He threw a lot of fastballs during the first four innings and really didn’t go to his off-speed stuff until later. He really pounded the zone and was aggressive to the hitters. He did a very nice job and was very efficient.”

PawSox Notebook:

  • The home run last night from Lavarnway was his first since back-to-back blasts on April 16 and 17 at Syracuse (26 games, 99 at-bats).
  • Fan-favorite Ryan Kalish homered in the 9th inning last night for High-A Salem in his first game of the season. He worked as the designated hitter and finished the night 2-for-4. Officially on a rehab assignment, the outfielder has 20 days before Boston will be forced to call him up or option him to a minor league club.
  • Aaron Bates spent parts of 2009 and ’10 with Pawtucket and made his Major League debut with the Red Sox on July 6, 2009. After signing a minor league contract with Minnesota on May 9, 2011, he was released almost a year later: May 15, 2012. Happy to see Bates has latched on with one of the most distinguished franchises in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals. (Sorry, I’m from St. Louis.)
  • After collecting a save in seven of his last nine appearances, Mark Melancon is now 8-for-8 in save situations with three walks and 24 strikeouts in 17 appearances. Unfortunately for Melancon, the Red Sox bullpen has been the club’s backbone over the recent stretch.

The PawSox finish their final series of the season with Toldo tonight from McCoy. Righty Brandon Duckworth (5-1, 4.28) will be opposed by the Mud Hens’ right-hander Thad Weber (3-2, 2.54). First pitch tonight is scheduled for 6:05, we hit the air at 5:50.

Talk with you then.

-AG

@aaronmgoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

Aaron Bates played in 122 games for the PawSox in 2010 where he hit .240 with 12 home runs and 54 runs batted in. (Kelly O’Connor)

Melancon Dominating Triple-A

After taking over as Houston’s closer in May of last year, Mark Melancon was the only Major League pitcher at the end of the season to record at least eight wins and 20 saves. To bolster their bullpen, the Red Sox traded infielder Jed Lowrie and right-hander Kyle Weiland for the hard-throwing righty on December 14.

The season did not begin well for Melancon in Boston. He gave up 11 runs in two innings pitched before being sent to Pawtucket. However, since joining the PawSox, Melancon has refined his pitching and is flat out dominating batters throughout the International League.

“He’s doing what he came down here to do,” said pitching coach, Rich Sauveur. “He’s locating the fastball better, keeping it down more. He’s mixing his pitches better and he’s challenging batters inside.”

Mark Melancon last pithced in the International League in 2010 when he made 40 appearances with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before being traded in the Lance Berkman deal with Houston on July 31, 2010. (Kelly O’Connor)

As Sauveur later told me, locating his fastball and pitching inside where the top two priorities for Melancon when he was sent down.

“I’ve always pitched inside throughout my career and I got away from that early on this year,” said Melancon. “It’s a mindset, you have to be agressive. There’s definitely a strategic plan that goes along with it.”

A third reason why the righty has had such success is the refinement of his curveball. It was a comment from the PawSox bullpen catcher that clicked with Melancon and has helped him improve what is no doubt a plus-pitch. “He told me it was just hanging there a little too long,” Melancon said.

“I’ve had that problem before, it’s always been a pitch that I’ve thrown very hard.” How did Melancon fix the problem? “It required somewhat of a mindset. [Now] I make sure that I finish it. By doing that you get that extra rotation on it.”

“Mark already had a Major League curveball,” Sauveur remarked. “It’s just what while he’s been down here it has gotten that much better because it breaks a lot later.”

“Everything he’s done in his last five or six outings is everything we’ve asked for. Mark is dominating these hitters now – it’s not fair to them.”

On a rainy afternoon in Norfolk yesterday, Melancon finally surrendered his first walk and run of the season and now has to settle for a 0.64 ERA (1 ER/14.0 IP). Although he’s looking like he belongs in the Boston, the Red Sox don’t have much room in a bullpen that has come together. For the time being, the PawSox will take him as long as they can.

-AG

@aaronmgoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

Youkilis, Dice-K, and Godzilla Take Over Durham

It’s hard to imagine another minor league game played across the country tonight that features as impressive Major League resumes as we’ll see this evening in Durham.

A sellout crowd is expected at Durham Bulls Athletic Park to watch Kevin Youkils, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Hideki Matsui. The trio has combined to play in 2,237 big league games over a span of 23 seasons. Together, Youk and Godzilla have 304 home runs and 1,312 runs batted in.

The three have totaled five Major League All-Star selections, four World Series championships, one World Series MVP, and even a Gold Glove.

This won’t be your typical Game 42 of the season.

PawSox Notebook:

  • Jose Iglesias finished last night 2-for-5 and is now hitting a season’s best .267.  Known for his glove and not his bat, Iglesias has recorded at least two hits in nine of his last 13 games where he’s hitting .420 (21-for-50).
  • The PawSox longest hitting streak of the season has been snapped. Pedro Ciriaco finished 0-for-5 last night and saw his club-best streak end at 12 games.
  • The Pawtucket bullpen has not allowed a run in four games (a stretch of 14 2/3 innings dating back five games). The last time it surrendered a run was a leadoff homer in the top of the seventh inning on May 12 at McCoy against Columbus.
  • Speaking of the bullpen, Mark Melancon nailed down his fifth save in as many tries last night. The righty is yet to allow a run in 13 innings and now has 21 strikeouts to zero walks.
  • PawSox batters have drawn 20 walks over the first two games in Durham. While Pawtucket is tied for taking the third-most walks in the International League, Durham is second in the league in offering “ball four.” Unrelated, the PawSox lead the circuit with 42 home runs in 41 games.

Should be a fun one tonight in Game 3 versus the Bulls. Dice-K (0-0, 4.50) makes his third rehab start with the PawSox and is opposed by righty Jim Paduch (1-1, 3.71). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 with our pre-game coverage beginning at 6:50.

Talk with you then.

-AG

@aaronmgoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

Youkilis Joins PawSox

Judging by all the Red Sox gear I saw fans wearing around Durham Bulls Athletic Park last night, there’s no doubt we’ll hear some “Youuuuuk” calls this evening.

Red Sox All-Star Kevin Youkilis is scheduled to join the PawSox tonight in Durham where he will begin his minor league rehab assignment (back strain). Various reports suggest that Youk will serve as Pawtucket’s designated hitter and get three at-bats.

Word is that he will then play the field on Thursday (same night Dice-K is scheduled to start for the PawSox), and then a decision will be made whether he is ready to join the Red Sox in Philadelphia.

Youkilis rehabbed in two games with the PawSox last season as well as in 2009. He combined to play in 113 games with Pawtucket between 2003-05. Overall, he hit .256 with 14 home runs and 61 RBIs. (pawsox.com)

PawSox Notebook:

  • No doubt the biggest headline from last night’s 8-2 win in Durham was the home run from shortstop Jose Iglesias. Just his second-career long ball, Iglesias drilled a laser over the 34-foot tall “Blue Monster” in left field. The homer came in his 745th-career at bat (204 games). His previous home run came last year on August 26 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and just like last night’s, it was a two-run shot.
  • Hard to believe, but last night marked the first multi-RBI game of the season for Ryan Lavarnway. The power-hitting catcher smashed a two-run double in the top of the 9th to extend his current hit streak to five games. The Yale product has upped his average to .273 and connected on his first extra-base hit in eight games. Of his 30 hits this year, 24 have been singles.
  • Che-Hsuan Lin is also riding a five-game hitting streak and has at least one hit in 9 of his last 10 games. The PawSox outfielder is tied for second on the club with 17 walks, and has struck out just 15 times in 110 at-bats.
  • Reliever Mark Melancon made his 12th appearance of the season last night and once again proved that he can more than handle International League batters. The hard-throwing righty has now tossed 12 scoreless innings while striking out 20 batters and not walking a man or allowing a run.

The PawSox and Bulls tangle tonight at 7:05 with our pre-game coverage starting at 6:50. Righty Doug Mathis (2-2, 5.01), coming off six scoreless innings against Columbus, will be opposed by right-hander Lance Pendleton (1-1, 4.15).

Talk with you then.

-AG

@aaronmgoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

The Sliding Catch: Tom Brunansky at McCoy

In 1990, he was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Red Sox for closer Lee Smith. Although he played just fourseasons for Boston, Tom Burnansky will always be remembered for his sliding catch in the right field corner to end the final regular season game of 1990. That tremendous play robbed Ozzie Guillen of a hit and propelled the Red Sox to the ALCS.


Burnansky, now in his first year as the Rochester Red Wings hitting coach, will be honored tonight at Fenway Park as part of the Red Sox celebration of Fenway’s 100th year. The Red Sox have designated May as “Memorable Moments Month” and will have a special pre-game ceremony featuring Burnansky before tonight’s 7:10 first pitch against Cleveland.

PawSox Notebook:

  • Jose Iglesias now has two hits in six of his last seven games and ranks 3rd among active PawSox hitters with 27 hits over 28 starts. The Pawtucket shortstop has two more hits than Ryan Lavarnway, three fewer than Daniel Nava. 24 of his hits have been singles.
  • Entering yesterday, just four of Che-Hsuan Lin’s 20 hits had come at McCoy Stadium over his first nine home games.  Last night he collected half that amount, going 2-for-4.
  • Mark Melancon has now tossed 9.2 scoreless innings with 0-BB and 17-K. He converted his second save in as many tries last night despite allowing two hits with two outs.
  • The PawSox have clubbed 13 hits three times in the last five games. Last night was the first time in that stretch they’ve done so without hitting a home run.
  • Seven of the PawSox nine batters registered a hit last night against Rochester. Iglesias, Lars Anderson, and Lin all had two hits, Nava had three.
  • Speaking of Nava, the PawSox outfielder has raised his average from .188 to .316 over the last two weeks. Almost equally impressive, Daniel is pounding the ball at home, batting .486 (18-for-37).
  • Lars Anderson now has 5 doubles in his last 5 games. 10 of his 22 hits this year have been doubles.

The PawSox have a chance to win their second-straight series with a win this afternoon against Rochester. Pawtucket right-hander Brandon Duckworth (4-0, 3.34) will be opposed by lefty Luke French (0-0, 5.40). First pitch from McCoy crosses home plate at 12:05 this afternoon. We’ll hit the air at 11:50 with the pre-game show.

Talk with you then.

-AG

@aaronmgoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

Brunansky played a combined 14 major league seasons with Minnesota, Boston, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and the California Angels. He was a career .245 hitter and a 1985 all-star selection. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

Justin Thomas Joins PawSox

After breaking camp with the Red Sox, left-handed reliever Justin Thomas has been assigned to Pawtucket as a result of Boston activating lefty Rich Hill from his minor league rehab assignment (Tommy John).

While Thomas no-doubt would’ve preferred to stay with the parent club, he’s grateful for the time he was able to put in with Boston.

“It was just great to get back to the big leagues and have the opportunity to pitch … Being at Fenway Park for the first time, seeing that place, and seeing the 100 year anniversary game there, it was awesome.”


Thomas, who appeared in seven games for the Red Sox, returns to the International League where he made a league-high 63 appearances last season.

“I’m ready to go everyday. I’m a guy who can come in and throw to one batter to get a lefty out in a situation, or go an inning or two.

Thomas joins an already crowded bullpen with rehabbing Andrew Miller and hard-throwing righty Mark Melancon. As Thomas pointed out, however, he will provide the club with a strong option versus left-handed hitting. Last season Thomas held opposing left-handed batters to a stingy .188 average (19-for-101), while allowing just one extra-base hit.

We may get our first look at Thomas tonight as the PawSox and Clippers play Game 2 of the series from beautiful Huntington Park in downtown Columbus. Thomas, and the rest of the bullpen, will need to bundle up. It’s predicted to be 48 degrees for our 7:05 first pitch. We hit the air at 6:50 with the pre-game show.

Talk with you then.

-AG

@aaronmgoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

Thomas has appeared in 27 career Major League games combined between the Mariners, Pirates, and Red Sox. (Kelly O'Connor)

Homestand Photos, April 20-25

Although the PawSox fell short yesterday of what would have been a franchise-record ten consecutive wins, the team still has the top record in the International League at 15-6.

Since the PawSox have today off before leaving tomorrow morning for a ten-day road road trip, this seemed like the perfect chance to share some photos from the recent homestand where club went 5-1. Special thanks to PawSox contributing photographer Kelly O’Connor (@sittingstillsox) for these great images.

Will Middlebrooks did a lot of this over the last six games. The Red Sox No. 1 prospect finished the home stand with four home runs.

Middlebrooks wasn’t the only one to go deep often. Mauro Gomez received plenty of high fives following each of his five homers over the last six games.

The PawSox first-ever “Bark in the Park” was a huge succes!

Infielder Jon Hee showing off some Matrix ball skills.

Mark Melancon made his Pawtucket debut during the homestand. The righty made three appearances and collected his first save of the year.

We had a chance to see Alex Hassan make some great plays in the outfield with both his glove and his arm.

It was great to watch Rich Hill pitch for the PawSox as he continues to recover from Tommy John Surgery.

As his bat is heating up, outfielder Josh Kroeger made a couple of terrific plays defensively. 

So Will Rhymes doesn’s play for the PawSox, this was too good to pass up. Lots of credit goes to Kelly for noticing that Will shaved his mustache during the middle of the game! (This was later confirmed via Twitter.) I guess he wasn’t hitting well enough with the ‘stache.

Thanks once again to Kelly for these great pics. The PawSox open up the road trip tomorrow night from Columbus in Game 1 against the Clippers. First pitch it set for 7:05 p.m., we’ll be on-air with the pre-game show at 6:50.

Talk with you then.

-AG

@aaronmgoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

Tazawa to Boston, Melancon to Pawtucket

Roughly 15 minutes prior to first pitch last night against the Texas Rangers, the Red Sox officially announced  that PawSox reliever Junichi Tazawa has been recalled from Pawtucket, while Mark Melancon has been optioned to Triple-A.

“Taz,” as he is known in the PawSox clubhouse, tossed four scoreless appearances totaling seven innings prior to the promotion. The right-hander fanned four batters in two separate outings and earned his first save of 2012 on Monday in Syracuse.

“He rested well over the winter and now looks like he’s put it all together,” PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler told me. “He’s getting ahead of hitters, locating his fastball, and putting guys away.”

This will be the third major league call-up for 25-year-old Tazawa. (Kelly O'Connor)

When I talked to Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur about Tazawa’s strong play, he echoed some of what Arnie said. “He’s locating his fastball and mixing his pitches well,” said Sauveur. “Because he’s commanding all three of his pitches, he’s trusting all three of his pitches.”

As Tazawa prepares for his first big league action since September 24 of last year when he pitched against the Yankees, Melancon makes his first trip to the minor league circuit since 2010 when he appeared in a combined 43 games between Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) and Round Rock (Astros).

Melancon has four years of Major League time on his resume where he's combined to go 10-7, 4.03 ERA in 110 games. (Kellly O'Connor)

The righty collected 20 saves last year with Houston, but in four appearances (just 2.0 IP) with the Sox, Melancon has surrendered 11 runs on 10 hits including five homers.

2011                                                   2012 

Pitches thrown: 1,221                   Pitches thrown: 71

HR allowed: 5                                 HR allowed: 5

The PawSox wrap up a nine-game road trip this afternoon from Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse. At 6-2, Pawtucket has the best road record in the International League and is one win away from their first series sweep of the season. Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller is expected to make another rehab outing this afternoon as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Right-hander Alex Wilson makes his first start of the year against the Chiefs.

First pitch today is scheduled for high noon with pre-game coverage beginning at 11:45.

Talk with you then,

-AG

@aaronmgoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

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