Tag Archives: International League

Pawtucket offense on fire


PAWTUCKET, R.I. — When the PawSox got off to a 9-1 start, the best start in franchise history, it was to be expected that a drop-off would happen at some point. That is what has happened in recent days, however, the team still is looking good. Pawtucket’s record sits at 17-12 after going 5-5 in their last 10 games. As the Boston roster has gotten more and more healthy over the course of 2013, Pawtucket’s roster has received more talent. This starts with the young OF Jackie Bradley Jr.

After a great spring training, Boston gave Bradley a chance to be the starting left fielder for the club. He showed some of his strengths early on such as his patience and plate discipline, but also struggled mightily after the opening series versus the Yankees. He was only 3-31 at the plate, striking out 12 times. It was clear that he needed time in Pawtucket and with the way Boston’s injury situation played out, he was able to be sent down once David Ortiz returned. With Pawtucket so far he is performing well, batting .302 with 7 walks, 4 RBIs, and 13 hits in 11 games. His strikeout rate is still a little high, as he has 13 in Triple-A, but the 22 year old looks to improve on that as the season continues.

When Stephen Drew came off the disabled list, Boston was forced to send SS Jose Iglesias down to Pawtucket. Fans know of his elite defense, but Iglesias was very impressive at the plate. His .450 average was unexpected for someone who has been labeled a “weak hitting shortstop,” but this is due in large part to something he worked very hard on in spring training: bunting. He had several well placed bunts and timely ones as well, moving runners along and getting on base from the 9 spot in the lineup. His average is only .235 so far in Pawtucket, but has shown more pop with 3 home runs. This equals his output at any level combined over the last 3 seasons. Whether this is something he is specifically working on or not, it is nice to see the long ball and small aspects of his game improving.

It’s not just one or two players carrying the PawSox offense. Everyone is contributing and opposing pitchers seem to never have an easy at bat against this team. C Ryan Lavarnway is batting .328 with 2 home runs and 12 RBIs. With Boston rumored to be unhappy with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Lavarnway would be the likely replacement for him should he be moved. Bryce Brentz leads the team with 20 RBIs, but his plate discipline remains a question as he has 25 strikeouts. He is batting .248 with 5 home runs and 7 doubles, so it is nice to see him able to get extra base hits and drive in runs. Justin Henry leads all PawSox with a .350 average, and he has been able to bat all around the order as well as play several different positions in the field. Brandon Snyder has arguably been Pawtucket’s best offensive threat early in 2013, batting .329 with a team leading 6 homers and 19 RBIs. His 15 extra base hits also lead the team.

The pitching hasn’t been dominant, but it has still been good. Allen Webster, who earned a recall to Boston earlier this season, has been the best starter for the team. The young Webster is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and averages over a strikeout per inning. Known as more of a sinker ball pitcher, he has increased his velocity to the mid 90s resulting in more strikeouts. Ruby De La Rosa is another young pitcher the team is high on, but is still being gradually worked into action after Tommy John Surgery. He averages less than 3 innings per start, with an ERA over 7. Expect him to get stronger stamina and better statistics as the season goes on. Knuckleballer Steven Wright has also been solid in the early going, posting a 1-0 record with an ERA of 1.93 and a recall to Boston mixed in with his minor league success. Alfredo Aceves had wanted to be a starter in Boston, but unfortunately for him he will only be one for the PawSox. In his first start for the team, he pitched 6 shutout innings, allowing 2 hits, 4 walks, and 6 strikeouts.

Pawtucket starts a week long road trip before returning home on May 14th.

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Defending Champ PawSox in line for another successful year


PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Coming off their 2012 Governors’ Cup Championship season, the Pawtucket Red Sox are ready to get 2013 underway. Last year was not only successful because they won the Cup, but because they were able to send players up to the big league club like Will Middlebrooks, Pedro Ciriaco, and Daniel Nava just to name a few. This year’s club features several up and coming prospects that will no doubt be big leaguers and likely could spend time in Boston this year.

While fans expected to see Jackie Bradley Jr. as the Opening Day center fielder at McCoy, his great spring has led him to start the year in Boston. That doesn’t mean he won’t see time in Pawtucket, however. If he struggles in his first week or two of Major League action, the team will likely send him down to the PawSox once the injured David Ortiz comes back from his heel injury.

Even if he doesn’t come down this year, there is still young talent in the PawSox outfield in the person of Bryce Brentz. Brentz spent most of 2012 in Portland, but came up for the PawSox playoff run and was a key piece to their success. Brentz is a very aggressive hitter with good power to all fields. Being an aggressive hitter he tends to swing at a lot of breaking balls out of the zone, something he will need to work on this season. As he got more and more triple-A at bats last year his patience slowly began to improve, so he will look to continue that trend in 2013. He will be in the middle of the PawSox order this year, and unless injuries happen in Boston he will likely spend most of this year in the minors. His year will probably be 2014 if the team doesn’t resign Jacoby Ellsbury. Bradley Jr. would move to centerfield while Brentz takes over in left. Expect a big year for him with the PawSox.

Other young offensive guns to keep an eye out for are Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias. Lavarnway ended last year with Boston, though did not have great success. Lavarnway is a solid hitter, but many still question his catching skills. While he has made good strides in this area, he will have to continue to show improvement in triple-A in order to make the Boston roster at some point this year. Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn’t the greatest defensive catcher either, so if he struggles or Boston parts ways with him at some point this year, Lavarnway could see plenty of time in Boston in 2013. Iglesias will start the year in Boston with Stephen Drew on the DL, but once he returns Iglesias will be sent down to Pawtucket. Fans know of his elite defensive skills, but his question mark has always been his bat. This spring, he has looked much improved in this category, putting together good at bats and hovering around .300. If the injury ridden Drew continues to have injury problems, Iglesias will spend many games in Boston and could take over the Major League starting shortstop role.

In terms of young pitching, Pawtucket will show off plenty of talent in Ruby De La Rosa and Allen Webster. Both acquired in the Dodgers mega trade last season, they will start the year in Pawtucket but could easily see time in Boston at some point this season whether it’s in the rotation or the bullpen. De La Rosa has a good fastball that sits in the high 90s and has good movement. His changeup is exceptional and his slider is also good, and all three of these pitches are able to punch batters out. He will focus on sharpening his command in Pawtucket, and is likely going to be the first man called up to Boston should a starter go down. Webster has been described as a Derek Lowe type pitcher, meaning that he gets a lot of ground ball outs. His fastball has great sinking action and sits in the mid-90s, though he has registered in the high-90s this spring. His changeup and slider also are solid pitches that can get hitters to swing and miss. He has had a good spring and will be making his triple-A debut this season after spending last year with Portland.

Except for Brentz none of these players were on the PawSox roster in September during the Governors’ Cup run, and that is a theme that seems to be present up and down the PawSox lineup. More than half the Championship team will not be on the 2013 Opening Day roster, including many key contributors. Offensively, the team lost Danny Valencia, Andy LaRoche, Che-Hsuan Lin, Nate Spears, and Jason Repko. Pitching wise, they lost their three best starters in Nelson Figueroa, Billy Buckner, and Zach Stewart, while closer Josh Fields was claimed by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. That is the world of minor league baseball, as veteran players are constantly on the move.

However, the team will return many good players that were on the Cup team and players who have spent time in the big leagues. International League MVP Mauro Gomez will return as the team’s first baseman and will continue to be a source of power and run production in the middle of the order. He will likely get multiple call-ups to Boston as he did last year, but he will put up big numbers in his time with Pawtucket. In the outfield, the combination of JC Linares, Jeremy Hazelbaker, and Alex Hassan all will get playing time and the odd man out in the outfield likely will get time at DH. Linares and Hazelbaker were big contributors to the team’s Championship run, while Hassan ended 2012 on the DL. Mitch Maier will also see at bats in the PawSox outfield. Dan Butler will back up Lavarnway behind the plate after catching the majority of games in the playoffs. Infielders Tony Thomas, Ryan Dent, and Jon Hee will compete for time in the infield with new acquisitions Justin Henry, Mark Hamilton, Drew Sutton, Brock Holt, and Jonathan Diaz. Of all these players, Holt is likely to get the most amount of playing time because of his young age and his ability to make good contact.

In the rotation the team returns pitcher Chris Hernandez and knuckleballer Stephen Wright, both of whom started playoff games last year. Hernandez projects as more of a situational lefty at the big league level, but is a solid minor league starter. Wright can be a little inconsistent as a knuckleballer, but has impressed the Red Sox in his short time with the organization. The bullpen should be very strong for Pawtucket, as it will include many of the same guys as last year as well as players with big league time. Jose De La Torre will likely get most of the save opportunities after splitting closer duties with Fields in the playoffs a season ago. He pitched in the World Baseball classic, and is the only player remaining that was acquired via the Kevin Youkilis trade. Alex Wilson also returns after a solid 2012 campaign, and he is capable of pitching in any kind of situation. He has yet to make his big league debut, but that could very well happen in 2013. Pedro Beato and Chris Carpenter also return to the bullpen to along with the newly added Oscar Villarreal, Anthony Carter, Ryan Rowland-Smith, and Graham Godfrey.

While these will be the guys playing at McCoy in the early part of 2013, many other prospects could be making their way to triple-A at some point this year. Top prospect Xander Bogaerts is starting in Portland, but is likely going to play for the PawSox once he proves he can hit double-A pitching. Whether it comes at mid-season or near the end of the year like Brentz last season, expect to see the 20 year old wearing a PawSox uniform in 2013. Pitchers Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo also could see time in Pawtucket at some point this year as these top prospects take the next step towards Fenway Park. Daniel Bard was expected to start in Pawtucket’s bullpen this season, but surprisingly he will start the year in Portland. He will pitch for Pawtucket at some point, but that time is unknown to everyone. He needs to work on his mechanics and his control, and the improvement of these things will be the basis of his promotion.

New manager Gary DiSarcina and the PawSox will take the field for the first time on April 4th on the road against Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Their home opener will be on April 11th against Rochester and aside from other Opening Day Ceremonies, the team will receive their Governor’s Cup rings. This team once again combines good, young talent with experienced veteran players, and this should lead to another exciting year in Pawtucket.

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DiSarcina named PawSox Manager

by Eddie Pannone

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — The Governor’s Cup Champion Pawtucket Red Sox will have a new man at the helm in 2013. The Red Sox announced today that Gary DiSarcina will be the new manager for the PawSox. A native of Billerica, Mass, DiSarcina leaves the Angels organization, where he was the special assistant to general manager. He is familiar with the Boston organization, as he has spent time in 2006 as a baseball operations consultant. He also served as the Lowell Spinners manager from 2007-2009, leading them to two division titles. In 2010, he was promoted to Red Sox minor league infield coordinator.

DiSarcina has 12 years of major league experience under his belt, all with the Angels. In 1,086 games played, the shortstop hit .258 with 28 homers and 355 RBIs. He was a 1995 All-Star, a year that saw him bat .307. He ended his career as a member of the PawSox before retiring. Some fans may also remember DiSarcina in the NESN studio, where he appeared on the pre and post game shows.

DiSarcina replaces Arnie Beyeler, who was promoted to Boston 1st base coach. Beyeler had been managing the team for two seasons, leading them to a division title in 2011 and a Governor’s Cup title last year.

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PawSox lose Triple-A National Championship Game

by Eddie Pannone

DURHAM, N.C. — The 2012 Pawtucket Red Sox season came to an end Tuesday night, losing the Triple-A National Championship game 10-3 to the Reno Aces. This was a one game playoff between the Pacific Coast League champion Aces and the International League Governors’ Cup champion PawSox, and was played in Durham, North Carolina.

Going into the night, it was expected to be a pitcher’s duel, as top Diamondbacks prospect Trevor Bauer would face the veteran PawSox starter Nelson Figueroa. Both pitchers were pitching very well in the playoffs, leading their team to their respected league’s championship. Neither pitcher would live up to expectations.

After Bauer recorded a quick 1-2-3 first inning, the Aces attacked Figueroa quickly. AJ Pollock took the second pitch of the game and belted it to centerfield for a lead off triple and would score on a Tyler Kuhn bloop single to left. Figueroa struck out the next two hitters, but Brent Clevlen drilled a 2-run homerun to centerfield, making the score 3-0 Reno after one.

Pawtucket’s top half of the second started out promising, as Danny Valencia hit a lead-off double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. However, in what would become a theme on the night, the PawSox could not cash in on the opportunity. The combination of Andy LaRoche, Bryce Brentz, and Dan Butler couldn’t drive home the run and the Sox came up empty. Reno once again jumped on Figueroa in the bottom of the second. Tyler Bortnick singled leading off, and once again after recording two outs, the PawSox could not get out of the inning. Pollock doubled home a run, Kuhn singled home Pollock and advanced to second on the throw to the plate, and Josh Bell lined an RBI single to center scoring Kuhn and giving Reno the commanding 6-0 lead.

Pawtucket once again missed a chance to dent the Aces’ lead in the third. Jon Hee and Che-Hsuan Lin both walked on four straight pitches to lead off the inning. This brought the top of the order up, but they could not capitalize on Bauer. Jeremy Hazelbaker and Tony Thomas struck out and JC Linares grounded out to end the inning.

In just the third inning, Pawtucket made a pitching change, inserting Chris Hernandez into the game. He did not fare much better, allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base. With runners at 2nd and 3rd and one out, Ryan Buddle hit a sacrifice fly to make it 7-0, and with 2 down the Aces scored again when right fielder Brentz let a ball bounce off his glove. After three innings, it was 8-0 Reno.

Finally in the top of inning number four, the PawSox got their first run. Valencia led off with a walk and with two outs Butler singled to left. Hee then walked to load the bases and Lin followed that with a walk to push home the first Pawtucket run. That is all they could do with the chance, as Hazelbaker struck out swinging letting Bauer off the hook and keeping the score 8-1.

Tony Thomas led off for the PawSox in the top of the fifth, and launched the first pitch he saw for a homerun to make it 8-2 Reno. Much like previous innings, the PawSox could not make a bigger dent in the deficit. They loaded the bases with 2 outs, and knocked Bauer out of the game due to his high pitch count. Mike DeMark replaced the young starter, and got Hee to strikeout, ending the threat.

Brock Huntzinger came out of the bullpen to start the bottom of the fifth, and like his fellow pitchers was greeted rudely. Bortnick doubled leading off the inning, and Keon Broxton drove him in with a 2-run homerun, making it 10-2 Aces. This would be the last Reno run scored of the game.

The PawSox continued to waste chances throughout the final innings. They stranded 2 runners in each of the sixth, seventh, and ninth innings, though they did score one on a Lin RBI single in the seventh. The final score was 10-3.

Nelson Figueroa took the loss for the PawSox, going 2 innings allowing 6 runs on 7 hits. He looked a little gassed towards the end of his last outing, and the wear and tear on the 38 year old’s arm may have finally caught up to him. He has been Pawtucket’s go to guy since he signed with the organization, clinching the Wild Card berth, the final game of the Yankees series, and the Governors’ Cup title. It is unclear if the veteran right hander will hang up the cleats or try and pitch another season. Trevor Bauer went 4.2 innings, which isn’t enough to qualify for a win. He allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and 7 walks, striking out 6. The high walk and strikeout rate really hurt his pitch count and because of that, Mike DeMark came in and recorded the win.

Even though they did not win this game, this was one of the most successful PawSox season’s in recent history. Not only did they win the Governors’ Cup, but they produced many players that were called up to Boston. The list includes guys like Will Middlebrooks, Pedro Ciriaco, Jose Iglesias, Mauro Gomez, Daniel Nava, and Ryan Lavarnway. As we celebrate a great 2012, we look forward to 2013, which promises to be another great year. Many talented prospects will again be making their way through McCoy, including Bryce Brentz, who made a name for himself in the postseason. Fans will also likely see top prospect Xander Bogaerts at some point, though he likely will start in Double-A.

The PawSox will celebrate their title noon tomorrow at Pawtucket City Hall. Many players and coaches are expected to attend this celebration. The 2013 season opener is April 11th, when the PawSox will raise their championship banner at McCoy Stadium.

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PawSox Complete Sweep of Charlotte, Capture First Governors’ Cup Title Since 1984

Manager Arnie Beyeler and team president Mike Tamburro lead the post-game celebration at Knights Stadium (All photos by Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer).

by Eddie Pannone

FORT MILL, S.C. — It took 28 years, but the Pawtucket Red Sox have won 2012 Governors’ Cup title with a 4-1 win over the Charlotte Knights. The team recorded their first playoff sweep in franchise history, winning 3 in a row against the Knights and had an overall postseason record of 6-1. This is the third Governors’ Cup in the history of the Pawtucket Red Sox, the others coming in 1973 and 1984.

Game 3 got started with the news that scheduled Charlotte starter Matt Zaleski would not be starting for unidentified reasons. Scott Carroll was called upon to start this win-or-go-home game for the Knights, and got off to a good start with a 1-2-3 first inning. PawSox starter Nelson Figueroa made things interesting in his half of the first, but got out of trouble. Greg Golson lined a 2-0 out double to center and Seth Loman lined a single to right. Golson belted home, and was thrown out by leftfielder JC Linares, keeping the game scoreless after one.

Pawtucket struck first in inning number two. Danny Valencia got things started with an infield single to shortstop Carlos Sanchez. After a Bryce Brentz strikeout, Andy LaRoche doubled off the left field wall that missed being a homerun by a matter of inches. With Valencia at third and LaRoche at second, Mike Rivera, in just his second game of the postseason, looped a ball that fell in left field that scored Valencia and gave Pawtucket an early 1-0 lead. Ryan Dent, in his first start of the playoffs, walked to load the bases, bringing up Che-Hsuan Lin. Lin hit a line drive to right field, but a shoestring catch robbed him of extra bases. Still, it allowed LaRoche to score, making it 2-0 Pawtucket. Jeremy Hazelbaker hit a long fly to right with two down, but it stayed in the yard and that was the end of the inning.

The Sox missed a great scoring chance in the fourth inning. After a Brentz strikeout, LaRoche was hit with a pitch and Rivera grounded a single up the middle. Dent would strikeout, but Lin hit a soft line drive to right field to load the bases with two outs. Hazelbaker couldn’t capitalize on the chance, as he grounded out weakly to the pitcher, ending the inning.

Charlotte got one run back in the bottom of the fifth. Jared Mitchell hit a leadoff single through the right side. After back to back fly outs, Mitchell stole second base with Carlos Sanchez batting. Sanchez grounded a ball sharply through to right field, scoring Mitchell. However, Brentz’s throw was cut off by the first baseman LaRoche, and they got Sanchez in a run down. He was eventually tagged out at second base, and the score was 2-1 Pawtucket after five.

The Knights missed a golden scoring chance in their next at bat. Drew Garcia singled up the middle and Greg Golson would reach on an error by Danny Valencia. With runners at the corners and no outs, Loman and Josh Phegley both struck out swinging, and Trayce Thompson flied out to centerfield, ending the threat.

Pawtucket extended its lead in the top of the 7th. With one out, Che-Hsuan Lin reached first base safely after an error by the shortstop Sanchez. Hazelbaker would then triple to right field, scoring Lin and giving the Sox a 3-1 advantage. The starter Carroll would be pulled after this hit, giving way to Santos Rodriguez. He promptly walked Tony Thomas and then allowed an RBI single to Linares, extending the lead to 4-1. Valencia then hit a groundball to third base, and Thomas was thrown out at the plate trying to score for the second out of the inning. Brentz would strikeout for the fourth time in the game, ending the inning.

Figueroa would leave after six innings, giving way to the bullpen. Will Inman was first out of the bullpen, and retired the side 1-2-3 in the seventh. Jose De La Torre came in to pitch the eighth inning, and after a leadoff walk didn’t allow another base runner, sending the game into the ninth inning. Josh Fields took the mound, looking for the final three outs of the season. Fields retired the side, clinching the coveted Governors’ Cup title for the PawSox.

Nelson Figueroa was once again recorded an important win. He went six innings, allowing a run on 7 hits and no walks while striking out five. He remarkably has pitched in every clinching game for the PawSox this season, as he was on the mound when they clinched the Wild Card, again when they beat the Yankees, and tonight’s clinching game against Charlotte. Scott Carroll, who was supposed to pitch tomorrow, received the loss. He pitched 6.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks, striking out seven.

What the PawSox were able to do this year was incredible. The team used a remarkable 69 players in 2012, including 23 players that were called up to Boston. Seven players from the opening day roster remained for their Championship run, and those players are Will Inman, Tony Pena, Jr., Alex Wilson, Nate Spears, Che-Hsuan Lin, Jason Repko, and Alex Hassan, who is currently on the DL. Tony Thomas has also been a PawSox all season long, but he was on the DL on opening night. This run has also been made without several key players that were called up to Boston, including I.L. MVP Mauro Gomez, all-stars Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias. Also worth mentioning are players like Pedro Ciriaco, Will Middlebrooks, and Justin Germano, who were all parts of the early success of this team and were all promoted before July 7. This year, several players stepped up when needed, both hitting wise and pitching wise. It has been well noted that all six pitchers from the original starting rotation have moved on, and it is also well known that many offensive stars have also moved on form Pawtucket. So many guys on this team signed here late or were called up from Portland. It is rare that a team can get championship production from these types of players, but this was a special team and will go down as one of the greatest in Pawtucket Red Sox history.

This team won in the postseason in all the ways you would expect a team to. As with any successful team, the PawSox starting pitching was tremendous. Not only did they pitch well, but they pitched deep as every pitcher went at least five innings in each postseason game. The bullpen, with the exception of game three against the Yankees, was dominating. The combination of Alex Wilson, Inman, De La Torre, and Fields were untouchable in late innings, which is obviously important to a successful team. On offense, hitters were clutch when they needed to be. There were no huge run totals in the final two games of the series, and the Sox capitalized on the situations they needed to in order to win.

Even though the PawSox are Governors’ Cup Champions, they still have one more game to play. The team will head to Durham, N.C. to play the champion of the Pacific Coast League (Reno or Omaha) in the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game. That game will be played Tuesday at 7 p.m. from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park with national television coverage on NBC Sports Network.

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PawSox Win Game 2, Set Up Chance to Clinch Governors’ Cup Title Thursday on Enemy Ground

PawSox staff load up the truck and head to Charlotteby Eddie Pannone

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — The Pawtucket Red Sox are one win away from taking home the Governors’ Cup title after a 2-0 victory over the Charlotte Knights. The PawSox have not won the Cup since 1984, but are up two games to none with a chance to earn the first sweep in franchise history. Zach Stewart took the mound for the PawSox, while Charles Shirek took the mound for Charlotte in what was a pitchers duel at McCoy.

Neither pitcher allowed a hit in the first inning, though Pawtucket did get one base runner on an error. The first hit of the game came off the bat of PawSox catcher Dan Butler, who cranked a solo homerun to left field in the bottom of the second to give the Sox a 1-0 lead.

The only other run of the game came in the bottom of inning number five. With one out, Butler grounded a single up the middle for the second PawSox hit of the night. After a Jon Hee fly out, Che-Hsuan Lin lined a double to right field, scoring Butler and giving the PawSox a 2-0 lead.

PawSox pitching would make that lead last, as starter Zach Stewart was dominant through his six innings of work. He never really got into trouble, making pitches when he needed to. He allowed only one leadoff man to get on base, and he was quickly erased on a double play. His final line was six innings, four hits, one walk, four strikeouts, and he picked up the win. Pawtucket’s bullpen was just as brilliant, as the combination of Pedro Beato in the seventh, Alex Wilson in the eighth, and Jose De La Torre in the ninth did not give up a hit and allowed only three base runners between them.

Charles Shirek pitched well enough to win for the Knights, but was handed the loss. He pitched the first seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits and no walks while striking out six.

The PawSox will look to clinch the Governors’ Cup sweep Thursday night in Fort Mill, S.C. Pawtucket will start Nelson Figueroa while the Knights will throw Matt Zaleski. Game time is 7:15 p.m.

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PawSox Win Game 1 of Governors’ Cup Finals

by Eddie Pannone

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — The Pawtucket Red Sox defeated the Charlotte Knights 7-2 Tuesday night, giving them a one game to none lead in this best-of-five Governors’ Cup Championship Series. The PawSox starter for game one was knuckleballer Steven Wright, who was acquired at the trade deadline for Lars Anderson. He got off to a shaky start in the first, allowing a leadoff single to Greg Golson, who advanced to second on a passed ball. After a groundout, Brent Morel singled to left, moving Golson to third. The Knights would grab a 1-0 lead when Seth Loman hit a sacrifice fly to left field.

The bottom of the first was not a good one for Knights starter Charles Leesman. Nate Spears and Tony Thomas both singled to lead off the first, bringing JC Linares to the plate. Linares hit a weak grounder between Leesman and the first baseman Loman. Loman fielded it and recorded the out at first, but collided with Leesman. Leesman immediately hit the ground, clutching his knee in pain. He had to be helped off the field, and scheduled game two starter Andre Rienzo came in to pitch. He would face Danny Valencia with runners on second and third with one out, allowing a sacrifice fly, tying the score at 1-1 after one inning of play.

The score would remain that way until the bottom of the third. After two quick PawSox outs, Linares singled and Valencia crushed a two-run home run over the wall in left, making it 3-1 Pawtucket after three.

The Knights quickly responded in their next at bat. Jared Mitchell hit a double to left field to start the inning and was sacrificed over to third by Carlos Sanchez. Brandon Short ripped a ball back up the middle for a single, scoring Mitchell and cutting the lead to 3-2.

The PawSox got that run right back in the bottom half of the inning. Red hot Bryce Brentz tripled off the wall in right to get things started for the Sox. After a Dan Butler strikeout, Jason Repko hit a weak groundball to the third baseman Morel. Brentz was off on contact, and Morel threw home. Though the ball beat him there by plenty, catcher Josh Phegley couldn’t get the tag on him, and the score was 4-2 Pawtucket.

Rienzo would continue to pitch for the Knights until the seventh inning, when Ryan Kussmaul came in. Pawtucket jumped on him, opening things up. Spears reached on an infield single, bringing Thomas to the plate. He launched a two-run home run over the leftfield wall, extending the lead to 6-2. Linares would make it back to back homers, as he belted a no doubter of his own to left, making it 7-2 after seven.

Wright was pulled after his seventh inning of work, giving way to the bullpen. The combination of Alex Wilson in the eighth and Josh Fields in the ninth quieted Charlotte’s bats and gave Pawtucket the win.

Wright picked up his first win as a PawSox, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six over seven strong innings. Rienzo was handed the loss in a game he did not expect to pitch in. He went 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks, striking out seven.

Pawtucket will look to take commanding two games to none lead over the Knights tomorrow at McCoy. Zach Stewart will start for the Sox, while scheduled game three starter Charlie Shirek will go for the Knights. Game time is 7:05.

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PawSox Notebook: Sox Affiliates Battle for Governors’ Cup, Triple-A Title Berth

OF J.C. Linares led the PawSox with an astouding .417 average in the first-round series victory over the North champ Yankees, while walking four and scoring three times (Malcolm MacMillan/TheBallparkGuide).

by Joshua Kummins

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — After a 3-1 series victory over the rival Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, the Wild Card champ Pawtucket Red Sox clinched a berth in the Governors’ Cup Playoffs and open the best-of-five series against the Charlotte Knights (CWS) on Tuesday night at McCoy Stadium.

The PawSox dropped Game 3 of the first-round series on a walk-off home run from Yankee slugger Melky Mesa on Friday night, but New York native Nelson Figueroa struck out eight and allowed just two hits in Saturday’s game to clinch the team’s first finals appearance since 2003.

The Knights, which owned the International League’s second-best pitching staff in the regular season, topped the only team ahead of them – the Indianapolis Indians (PIT) in three out of four games. Starter Matt Zaleski went 8.1 innings in the series-clinching Game 4 last Saturday night, while catcher and Indiana native Josh Phegley burned the Hoosier State’s team with a .429 average and six RBI in the series, while also hitting .304 with five homers in August.

Charlotte captured five of the eight contests between the teams in the regular season, including three of four on the road at McCoy Stadium from June 26-29. The teams have not met in the IL playoffs.

Pitching Match-ups and Series Probables:
Game 1 – Tuesday at 7:05: RHP Steven Wright (NR)/(0-1, 3.15) vs. LHP Charlie Leesman (1-0, 1.13)/(12-10, 2.47)
Game 2 – Wednesday at 7:05: RHP Zach Stewart (1-0, 7.20)/(3-5, 3.94) vs. RHP Andre Rienzo (NR)/(0-0, 0.00)
Game 3 – Thursday at 7:15: RHP Nelson Figueroa 1-0, 1.13/12-5, 3.89 vs. RHP Charlie Shirek 0-0, 15.43/11-5, 3.65
Game 4 – Friday at 7:15 (if necessary): LHP Chris Hernandez (0-0, 3.00)/(1-4, 3.59) vs. TBA
Game 5 – Saturday at 7:15 (if necessary): RHP Billy Buckner (0-0, 0.00)/(8-6, 3.91) vs. TBA

Here are some series notes, courtesy of the PawSox PR department:

PawSox Playoff Baseball – The 2012 IL Wild Card Champion Pawtucket Red Sox play Game 1 of the 80th Annual Governors’ Cup Finals championship series (best 3 out of 5) vs. the IL South Champion Charlotte Knights tonight at 7:05 pm at McCoy Stadium. The PawSox are appearing in their first finals series since 2003 (lost 3 games to 0 to Durham) and looking to win their first Governors’ Cup since 1984 (won 3 games to 2 over Maine). Charlotte won the 1999 Governors’ Cup which was their last appearance in the championship round. They also won the Cup in their only other finals appearance in 1993. The ’99 champs were affiliated with the White Sox while the ’93 title came as an Indians affiliate. Both the Knights and the PawSox are in search of their third Governors’ Cup as Pawtucket won in 1973 and 1984. The PawSox lost in the finals in 1977, 1978, 1991, and 2003.

History in the Making – Pawtucket is bidding to win a game in the Governors’ Cup Finals for the first time in nearly 28 years since they won the decisive Game 5 of the 1984 Governors’ Cup on September 13, 1984 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine defeating the Maine Guides, 3-0 behind winning pitcher George Mecerod. Pawtucket was swept 3 games to none in each of their last two Governors’ Cup appearances in 1991 by Columbus and 2003 by Durham. Furthermore, all three PawSox wins in that 1984 series came in Maine as the Sox lost the first two games at home before winning three straight at Maine. Thus, the PawSox have not won a Governors’ Cup Finals game here at home since September 10, 1978 (34 years ago) when they beat Richmond, 7-3 in Game 5 of the Governors’ Cup Finals. The Sox went on to lose to the Braves in 7-games that year as the championship series was a best of 7 back then until switching to a best of 5 in 1980.

Oh to be Young Again – Thanks to Chris Sprague of the IL Office for pointing out this factoid…only 9 of the 25 players on the current PawSox playoff roster were born when the PawSox last won the Cup in 1984. They are Billy Buckner, Nelson Figueroa (the elder statesman who was 10 at the time), Tony Pena, Jr., Steven Wright (who was 15 days young at the time), Mike Rivera, Jon Hee, Andy LaRoche, J.C. Linares (who probably didn’t get Governors’ Cup results in Cuba those days), and Jason Repko. PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler was a 20 year-old star infielder for Wichita State University back in 1984.

We Want the Cup – When Frank “Shag” Shaughnessy introduced his playoff system to the International League in 1933, the Governors’ Cup was born. Sponsored by the Governors of New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, as well as the Lieutenant Governors of the Canadian Provinces of Quebec and Ontario, the trophy known as the Governors’ Cup has been awarded to the International League’s postseason champion in each of the 79 years since. The original Governors’ Cup now resides at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, while a new trophy has been in circulation since 1988.

How The PawSox Arrived Here – Pawtucket finished 5-games behind Scranton/WB in the IL North division, but had the 4th best record in the league (79-65) to qualify for the post-season as the Wild Card. In the league’s predetermined playoff format the Wild Card winner always plays the IL North Champ in the first round of the playoffs so the Sox and Yankees met for the right to play for the Governors’ Cup. Pawtucket won the first two games at home last Wednesday and Thursday, 7-4 and 3-2 (both come-from-behind victories). The series shifted to Rochester (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s home away from home) on Friday night with the Yankees staving off elimination thanks to a 3-run rally in the bottom of the 9th-inning for a 4-3 victory. The PawSox took the series, 3 games to 1, with a 7-1 triumph on Saturday night (thanks to a 7-run 2nd-inning uprising) to win a playoff series for the only the second time since their 1984 championship (a semi-final series win over Ottawa in 2003 the other). The Sox also improved to 2-10 in their last 12 playoff series since ’84 and are now 34-51 all-time in the post-season (15 years) since 1973.

How Charlotte Arrived Here – Charlotte won the IL South division by a 9-game margin with an 83-61 record (3rd best in the league) to qualify for the playoffs for the first since 2006 (a semi-final loss to Toledo, 3 games to 1). They Knights beat the IL West champ Indianapolis Indians (the club with the best record in the league), 3 games to 1 in the other IL semi-final playoff series. Like the PawSox, Charlotte won the first two games of the series but their victories came on the road in Indianapolis. Game 1 was an 8-1 rout behind starter and winner Charlie Leesman (who starts G1 of the Cup Finals tonight). It looked like Game 2 would be similar the next evening as the Knights raced to a 9-0 lead after 2½-innings only to see the Indians battle back on several occasions before Charlotte finally held on for a wild 14-13 win. Indy got back into the series with an 8-0 victory in Game 3 in Charlotte on Friday night, but the Knights closed out the series holding off another late Indianapolis rally for a 6-4 triumph in Game 4 on Saturday night in Charlotte. Charlotte is now 18-16 all-time in the post-season (6 years) since joining the International League in 1993.

Stats vs. the Knights – In the 8 regular-season games vs. the Knights the PawSox batted .235 (63-for-268) with just 2 HR (1 by Tony Thomas and 1 by Mauro Gomez who is now in Boston) while pitchers were 3-5 with a 3.13 ERA (25 ER in 72 IP). Charlotte on the other hand hit just .228 vs. the PawSox (61-for-268) with 7 HR but their pitchers were 5-3 with a 1.85 ERA (15 ER in 73 IP). The Knights out-scored the Sox, 26-18 in the season-series that featured five 1-run games among the eight.

Charlotte’s Web – The PawSox had finished 4-4 vs. Charlotte during each of the previous four seasons (2008-2011). The PawSox won the season-series over Charlotte by a 5-3 margin during both the 2006 and 2007 seasons after having gone 1-7 vs. Charlotte each of the prior two seasons (2004 & 2005).

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PawSox Moving On To Governor’s Cup Finals, Return to McCoy Stadium for Game 1 Tuesday

by Eddie Pannone

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Pawtucket Red Sox are moving on to the Governor’s Cup Finals after beating the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees 7-1 Saturday night. They won their series 3 games to 1 and will be facing the Charlotte Knights or Indianapolis Indians for the title starting Tuesday night.

Both teams couldn’t get anything going in the first inning, but Pawtucket got on the board first in inning number two, playing station to station baseball. The PawSox had their first three batters reach, as Andy LaRoche hit an infield single, Bryce Brentz singled to right, and Dan Butler reached on a ball that went between short and third. After a pop out from Jason Repko, Jon Hee singled to right field, scoring LaRoche and giving Pawtucket an early 1-0 lead. Jeremy Hazelbaker followed with a single of his own through the right side, scoring Brentz and extending the lead to 2-0. Tony Thomas would make it 3-0 as he hustled to first base and reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Butler. JC Linares continued the Sox attack, as he ripped a 2 out single to left field, scoring Hee and making it 4-0 PawSox. The big blow came from Danny Valencia, as he belted a 3-run homerun to left, making it 7-0 after 2 innings.

The Yankees finally broke through against Nelson Figueroa in the bottom of the fourth. After retiring the first 10 batters of the game, Corban Joseph hit a solo homerun to centerfield trimming the PawSox lead to 7-1. Figueroa would quickly retire the next two hitters, keeping the score 7-1 after 4 innings.

That would be the last run scored in the game, as the Yankees bullpen kept the Sox bats at bay and Figueroa was dominant through 8 innings. He gave way to Alex Wilson for the ninth inning who continued the dominance. Wilson retired the Yankees 1-2-3 in the ninth, sending Pawtucket to the Governor’s Cup Finals.

Nelson Figueroa recorded the win, pitching 8 innings, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 1 walk, striking out a season high 8. Vidal Nuno received the loss in his Triple-A debut, allowing 7 runs on 7 hits in 1.2 innings.

Pawtucket will host the first two games of the Governor’s Cup at McCoy Stadium Tuesday the 11th and Wednesday the 12th. They will then travel to Charlotte or Indianapolis for the final three games of the series. The Knights and Indians were in a rain delay most of the night tonight and the game was not completed at the time this was published. The PawSox are looking for their first Governor’s Cup championship since 1984.

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PawSox Let Game 3 Slip Away, Lose 4-3 on Walk-Off Home Run

by Eddie Pannone

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Pawtucket Red Sox couldn’t wrap up their series with the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees, falling 4-3 on Friday night. The PawSox still hold a 2 games to 1 lead over the Yankees in this 5 game series.

After both teams went quietly in the first inning, Pawtucket got on the board first in the second inning. With one out, Bryce Brentz cranked a solo homerun to left field to give the PawSox a 1-0 lead. Mike Rivera would make it back-to-back homeruns as he would drill the next pitch over the wall in left, making it 2-0. In the bottom of the inning, the Yankees got their first two runners on but proceeded to get the next three batters and keeping the score 2-0 after 2 innings.

After a scoreless third, a 37 minute rain delay halted play. Once the tarp was taken off the field, Pawtucket wasted a golden scoring opportunity. Andy LaRoche was hit by a pitch and Brentz reached on an error putting runners at the corners with no outs. Rivera would hit a fly ball out, and centerfielder Melky Mesa threw out LaRoche trying to tag up for out number two. Jon Hee would ground out to the pitcher to end the inning, and the score remained 2-0 after four. Neither team could get much going offensively in the middle innings.

The PawSox added some insurance in the top of the eighth off relievers Manny Delcarmen and Ryota Igarashi. Jason Repko hit a leadoff single to right field and advanced to second on a bobble by Cole Garner. Repko then went to third on a wild pitch. After Delcarmen got Tony Thomas to strikeout, he was replaced by Igarashi, who promptly gave up an RBI triple to JC Linares giving the PawSox a 3-0 lead. That’s all the PawSox would get in the eighth, as Danny Valencia struck out and Andy LaRoche grounded out to short.

Scranton got a run back in the bottom of the inning, as former PawSox catcher Gustavo Molina hit a one out solo homerun to left field off of Brock Huntzinger. After eight full innings, Pawtucket held onto a 3-1 lead.

Pawtucket went 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, and Tony Pena Jr. came on to try and close out the sweep. Kevin Russo welcomed him to the game rudely as he hit a double that was just fair down the right field line. Pena Jr. got Corban Joseph to groundout to short, but allowed an RBI single to Ronnier Mustelier, making the score 3-2. Pena Jr. would be pulled in favor of Pedro Beato, who got Luke Murton to pop out to first. Melky Mesa, who has been a PawSox killer all year long, hit a 2 run walk-off homerun to give the Yankees the 4-3 victory.

Starter Mike O’Connor did not factor in the decision, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and 1 walk while striking out 5 over 6 innings. Igarashi picked up the win, going 1.2 innings, giving up just one hit and 3 strikeouts. PawSox starter Billy Buckner would have been in line for a win, going 6.1 brilliant innings of shutout baseball. He gave up just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 7 and retiring 16 straight at one point. Pedro Beato recorded the loss, giving up 1 hit and 1 run on the walk off homerun, retiring just one batter. Tony Pena Jr., though not a part of the decision, allowed 2 runs on 2 hits in his third of an inning.

Pawtucket will be back in action tomorrow looking to close out the series. Nelson Figueroa will start for the PawSox while the Yankees will throw Vidal Nuno. Game time is 7:05.

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