Looking for back-to-back Governors’ Cup Titles for the first time in team history, the Pawtucket Red Sox faced off against the Durham Bulls on Tuesday night looking to take game one of a best of five series. It was a good pitching match up as top prospects faced off on the mound. Anthony Ranaudo got the start for Pawtucket while Jake Odorizzi opposed him. They lived up to the billing, but neither would factor in the decision. Using late clutch hitting and good defense, the PawSox won the pitchers duel 2-1.
After missing out on a bases loaded threat in inning number one, Durham cracked the score board in the second. Mike Fontenot doubled to right center and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Jesus Flores stepped to plate, delivering a sacrifice fly to make things 1-0 Durham after two.
Pawtucket had runners on base in the early innings, though no serious scoring threats. The only threat they had was in the fourth when Alex Hassan walked and moved to second on a groundout. Jeremy Hazelbaker had a chance to drive him home with 2 outs, but flew out to end the inning. Ranaudo also had his share of base runners reach early on, but for the most part got out of any trouble he was in.
As the middle and late innings moved on, both pitchers continued their dominance. Odorizzi shut Pawtucket’s offense down through 7 innings, looking just as good if not better in the late innings as he did in the opening ones. He allowed 4 hits and a walk while striking out 7 in his outing. Ranaudo, after a shaky outing against the Red Wings last time out, pitched brilliantly. Despite some early struggles he pitched more effectively as the game went on. He was very efficient and had some quick innings to keep his pitch count manageable. He too allowed 4 hits and a walk in his outing, striking out 4 Bulls.
Ranaudo left the game in the seventh, giving way to Alex Wilson. Wilson ran into trouble but posted a shutout inning thanks to a great diving catch by Justin Henry. With the momentum in their favor, Henry singled and Heiker Meneses was hit with a pitch to lead off the 8th inning for the PawSox. Jonathan Diaz sacrificed them both into scoring position, bringing Holt up with a chance to take the lead. He would not disappoint, driving in both men with a 2 run single to give the PawSox a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Pawtucket’s top two relievers would take it from there. Ryan Rowland-Smith ran into some trouble in the bottom of the 8th, allowing the first two men to reach in the inning. With one of Durham’s better hitters in Leslie Anderson at the plate, an interesting move was made. Evan Frey pinch hit for him, trying to sacrifice those runners into scoring position. He failed to do so, striking out and leaving the runners on first and second with one out. Holt and Hazelbaker came to the rescue again defensively, making great plays and helping their team get out of the inning unscathed. Anthony Carter came in for the ninth, making his inning interesting as well. He allowed singles to Tim Beckham and Cole Figueroa, who used their speed to get to second and third with one out. After an intentional walk, Shelly Duncan popped out to third and Brandon Guyer flew out to right, sealing the save for Carter and a 2-1 win for Pawtucket.
Wilson recorded the win for the Sox while RI native Jeff Beliveau took the loss. Beliveau only went 0.1 of an inning, but gave up both runs Pawtucket scored. Looking to take a commanding 2-0 series lead, the Sox will turn to Steven Wright tomorrow as he faces I.L. pitcher of the year J.D. Martin. Game time is 7:05.
by CAMERON MERRITT
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.- While it wasn’t a pretty win for the Patriots, it was a win nonetheless.
The New England Patriots narrowly defeated the Buffalo Bills 23-21 Sunday afternoon in their season opener for their 10th consecutive Week 1 win off of a 35 yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski with only 0:05 left in the game.
After the Patriots took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, the Bills started a comeback when a Stevan Ridley fumble, his final play of the game, was returned 75 yards for a touchdown by safety Da’Norris Searcy. Then, after Tom Brady (28-52, 288 yds, 2 TD) connected with Julian Edelman (7 rec, 79 yds, 2 TD) for his second touchdown, rookie quarterback EJ Manuel (18-27, 150 yds, 2 TD), in his first NFL, connected with Robert Woods to bring Buffalo within three at the half.
The Pats struggled more in the second half, as the Bills scored on their first drive of the third quarter when Manuel found Stevie Johnson for an 18 yard touchdown to take the lead. The Bills defense stepped up and shut down the still high-powered New England offense, even though missing several of it’s key pieces from last season, limiting them to only six points in the half. Gostkowski made his second field goal attempt (his first from 48 yards out in the first quarter) from 33 yards with 10:48 left in the game.
Then, Brady lead his team on a late-game surge on their final drive, with six consecutive completions, including a couple of great catches by new receiver Danny Amendola (10 rec, 104 yds), showing potential after coming back from a groin injury before the half, and set his team up in good field goal position, then let Gostkowski put on the finishing touch. With the Bills unable to pull off a miracle on the preceding kickoff or play following it, the Pats sealed a win and a 1-0 start against a division rival.
“It looked like we were going to let it slip away for a little bit, but we battled back and won, and it’s just a great experience,” said the veteran kicker following the game.
“I was proud of our team today. I thought they made the plays at the end of the game that they needed to win. That’s what it’s about. Obviously it wasn’t perfect. There’s a lot of things we can do better. We played the last few minutes of the game the way we need to play it, and we were able to execute and make the plays. It’s always tough to win in the division, on the road,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Brady also agreed with his coach, and said that while his team “didn’t execute great,” they did step up when they needed to.
“[T]he boys made some clutch plays when they needed to and it was an all around team effort.”
“I feel like we made a lot of good plays out there on offense. Every game in this league is close, and it’s going to come down to making plays at the end. I felt like we fought hard and got the job done,” said Amendola, who may miss the next game to give him more time to recover from his pulled groin.
Another player who will be missing time is Shane Vereen (14 att, 101 yds), the running back having broken his wrist during his first play of the game, yet went on to have one of the best performances for either side of the game. He underwent successful surgery on Monday, and was placed on the IR with a designation to return, with Fox Sports 1 believing he won’t be ready again until Week 11 at Carolina.
But for now, the Pats set their focus on another divisional showoff for their home opener as they’ll take on arch-rivals the New York Jets, lead by rookie QB Geno Smith, on Thursday night.
Stop me when this sounds familiar: Pawtucket is heading to the Governors’ Cup Finals. For the second year in a row the PawSox will play for the International League Crown and will try and keep the Governors’ Cup in their possession. It took a deciding game five, but Pawtucket beat the Rochester Red Wings 3 games to 2 in a back and forth series. The key to the series win for both teams was capitalizing with runners in scoring position.
In what was a frustrating 7-1 game one loss for the PawSox, the team’s only run came on a Bryce Brentz solo home run in the second inning. Pawtucket had a runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but no one could drive them in. Overall they went 0-8 with runners in scoring position. Rochester on the other hand capitalized on every early opportunity they had against Anthony Ranaudo. Within four innings, the Wings plated 6 runs on the Sox, 3 of them coming on 2 out RBIs. It seemed that anything that could go wrong did for Pawtucket, and the game was essentially over in the early innings.
The following night was a complete role reversal as the PawSox won 7-2. Pawtucket used the middle innings to open up a comfortable lead, starting when they scored 2 runs with the bases loaded in the top of the third. The fifth inning saw the PawSox turn an error into a run, and then capitalize on a 2 out opportunity. With Heiker Meneses and Jackie Bradley Jr. on second and third, Brock Holt lined a single to center to score them both and give his team a comfortable 5-0 lead. After the Red Wings scored two in their half of the fifth, Pawtucket responded by getting those runs right back in the sixth. The Sox were 4-10 with runners in scoring position while Rochester was just 1-9.
Game three saw Pawtucket gain their first series lead behind a good pitching performance from Steven Wright. The PawSox won 5-1, stopping many Red Wing threats throughout the game. Wright escaped a bases loaded jam in the 3rd by inducing a double play and escaped a 2nd and 3rd 2 out jam in the 6th with a strikeout. The PawSox took advantage of their early chance, using a Holt single and a Bradley single to make the score 2-0. While they didn’t have as many chances as the Wings, they were able to keep momentum by stopping the Wings and preventing crucial runs from scoring.
After a dreadful game four in which Rochester beat up Pawtucket 9-1, the deciding game 5 would come down to capitalizing on what few opportunities each team had. In what was a low scoring game, the PawSox and Wings each had one big chance. With two outs in the second inning, Jeremy Hazelbaker tripled to right field to put a runner 90 feet away. PawSox MVP Dan Butler lined a single to center field to score Hazelbaker and moved to third on a double from Justin Henry. Meneses came to the plate, and in arguably his most important Triple-A at bat hit a two run single to give the Sox a 3-0 lead. Rochester had a huge opportunity slip by in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded and no one out, the Wings couldn’t muster up a run, securing the momentum with Pawtucket. Charlie Haeger was able to strike out Jeff Clement, and Chris Martin was able to get the next two batters to end the threat. From the opening pitch, hitting with runners in scoring position looked like it was going to be key, and in the most important game, it was.
Now, the PawSox will face the Durham Bulls in the Governors’ Cup Final, who had an easy time in their series sweeping the Indianapolis Indians. Pawtucket by no means played a pretty series, and in the Governors’ Cup Final they will surely have to play much better if they want to win. Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo, two top prospects for Boston, pitched sub par and did not look like themselves. They will both need to shake off this series and go back to their dominating selves. With Bradley up in Boston to replace the injured Jacoby Ellsbury, the top of the order needs to get on base at a higher clip. The combination of Holt, Jonathan Diaz, Brentz, Hazelbaker, and Alex Hassan all hit .200 or lower in this series, and that just won’t get it done in the finals.
In what promises to be an interesting series, top pitching prospects will face off in Game one on Tuesday. Anthony Ranaudo will face Jake Odorizzi in Durham looking to give the PawSox a 1-0 series lead in this best of five final.
by TJ HORGAN
Sorry Patriots fans, but I am on the bandwagon too.
From a fantasy football perspective, I am making a bolder statement than when very talented fantasy analyst, Matthew Berry(ESPN) advised picking Michael Vick in the first round. I know Matthew endured lots of criticism for that rank, but this article is not more exhausted assessment of that mistake. This, in fact, is about making a prediction that, many would say, could turn out worse than Berry’s.
Geno Smith, New York Jets rookie quarterback out of West Virginia University, will finish this year (2013) as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in terms of point values. There’s the prediction.
At this point, Smith has been named the week one starter, and if the New York Jets’ front office and coaching staff maintain their infamous strategy of publicity stunt followed by publicity stunt to sell jerseys, starting Smith would fit perfectly into the mold.
However, after the Jets’ first four games, they will experience an epiphany. Starting the best-selling jersey is actually, for once, in the team’s best interest for winning games. The Jets play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers week one, followed by the Patriots, Bills, and Titans. All four of those teams finished in the bottom ten teams in terms of total yards per game allowed. I’m not exclusively referring to pass or run, because Smith will excel in both areas.
Surely, TJ, Geno Smith will not blossom into a top ten fantasy option simply because of an easy schedule. I agree. Let’s start with the Jets’ offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, who openly told the press that he wanted Geno Smith, to start. When the person in charge of running the offense and calling plays wants someone to start, chances are, that person will start.
In Mornhinweg’s West Coast offense, the Jets will mostly be throwing the ball on first and second down instead of running with their stellar committee of running backs (that’s sarcasm).
The west coast offense ran by Mornhinweg revolves around consistent, short, throws to gain yards, instead of running the ball. What this means for Smith is that he will not have the burden of making deep throws to a tightly covered receiver, often resulting in interceptions for a rookie gunslinger. In addition to the opportunity for consistent, short passes, there will be plenty of chances for Smith to scramble due to New York’s uneven offensive line play, and receivers who can’t run routes.
Smith scrambling may lead to a sack or two every game, but it could also lead to vertically significant plays. One more fact on that portion of my argument, in standard scoring leagues, QBs do not lose points for being sacked, but do they gain points for rushing yards, equally weighted as that of a running back, regardless if the run was designed or not.
Geno Smith is a rookie quarterback taking over a struggling team whose offensive coordinator runs a west coast offense. Another rookie quarterback in this EXACT same scenario with whom you might be familiar? A man by the name of Robert Griffin III…
Marty Mornhinweg, who I mentioned earlier, will be instrumental in Geno Smith’s potential success. Mornhinweg ran this west coast offense with his past teams. His most recent team…The Philadelphia Eagles. Mornhinweg OC’d the Eagles from 2006-2012. Mornhinweg was the offensive coordinator when Michael Vick had, statistically, the best season of his career (3,018 passing yards, 100 rushes for 676 yards, 9 rushing TDs). Michael Vick is arguably the best rushing quarterback in NFL history. The bottom line is that Marty Mornhinweg knows how to run an offense built around a mobile quarterback.
In conclusion, when analyzing the history of Smith’s circumstances, he has an ideal opportunity to break out and produce some unexpected fantasy points. His offensive coordinator is no stranger to facilitating the game for scrambling quarterbacks, and Smith is in a very similar offense, ideologically, to the offense in which RGIII succeeded during his rookie campaign.
As of now, Geno Smith is undrafted in ESPN standard, 10-team leagues.
That being said, I will wholeheartedly endorse taking Geno Smith in one of the last few rounds instead of a bye-week fill-in or handcuff such as Ronnie Hillman, Vick Ballard, or Denarius Moore (to name a few).
In exciting walk off fashion, the Pawtucket Red Sox clinched the I.L. North Division title and will have a chance to defend their Governors’ Cup Championship. Tied at 1 in the ninth, Justin Henry delivered an RBI single that scored Quintin Berry and secured a playoff berth in Pawtucket for a third consecutive season. The PawSox will take on the I.L. Wild Card Rochester Red Wings in round one of the playoffs, who squeaked into the playoffs via a tie breaker with the Norfolk Tides. The Tides and Wings went back and forth throughout the final days of the year, but since they ended with the same record, the team that won the head to head series took the final spot.
September call ups usually take away from a team’s playoff run. While good players, such as Ryan Lavarnway, Brandon Snyder, Rubby De La Rosa, and Quintin Berry, were all promoted to Boston, many more were left down to compete in the postseason. Jackie Bradley Jr. was one of the biggest names expected to be called up, but the acquisition of Berry allowed for him to stay in Triple-A and further develop. Bradley would have provided speed and defense off the bench with few opportunities to hit or play everyday for Boston. Berry is better suited for a role like that, and so Bradley will wait until the postseason is over to join the big league club. This is true for many of Pawtucket’s players, as after the playoffs it would not be surprising if any of the following players are promoted: Brock Holt, Allen Webster, Jose De La Torre, Pedro Beato, Steven Wright, & Alex Wilson.
It’s not all subtraction for the PawSox, as they will add Portland catcher Christian Vazquez from Portland for the playoff run. The organization loves his defense behind the plate and he had a solid year offensively for the Sea Dogs. With him being behind the plate most of the time, regular catcher and team MVP Dan Butler will likely be the full time DH in the playoffs.
The PawSox announced the starting pitchers for the first three games of the postseason. Anthony Ranaudo, recently named Eastern League Pitcher of the Year for his work with the Sea Dogs, will start game one on Wednesday. A rehabbing Clay Buchholz will get the nod in game two with Steven Wright going game three. Stay with BSR.net all postseason long as I will provide game updates and recaps throughout the Governors’ Cup run.