The Red Sox organization no doubt posted smiles early Wednesday, given the series of events taking place all over the Northeast. Close to home, Fenway Park celebrated tying the Major League record for consecutive sellouts at 455 — tying the Cleveland Indians’ record from 1995 to 2001 while the beloved Sox stole a 5-4, walkoff win from the Baltimore Orioles to complete a series sweep.
Down south, Triple-A Pawtucket began its quest for the Governors’ Cup against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The PawSox headed into the playoffs 2 1/2 games behind those IL North champion Yankees, but they did manage to set franchise records in wins (85) and winning percentage (.594) during the 2008 campaign. In Trenton, Double-A Portland began its fourth consecutive playoff run.
But that’s where the glee ended, as both the PawSox and Sea Dogs dropped their opening games of this postseason, 7-1 and 2-1, respectively.
Pawtucket allowed three home runs to the Yankees, who put up three runs in both the fourth and sixth innings. PawSox starter Charlie Zink lasted 5 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on eight hits. Scranton’s bullpen tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Chase Wright.
Portland hung a bit closer in its tilt with Trenton, but the the Sea Dogs couldn’t top the Eastern League North champs. Portland starter Kris Johnson was tagged with the loss despite allowing two runs (one earned) over six innings. He struck out two while giving up four hits and two walks.
Clay Buchholz is slated to start Game 2 on Thursday. He struck out 10 in eight scoreless innings during his regular season finale against New Hampshire.
–Zink was named IL Pitcher of the Year and finished the regular season second in the league with a 2.84 ERA. He was 14-6 overall, tying two players — including teammate David Pauley, currently with the Red Sox — for the second most wins in the IL. Scranton’s Kei Igawa won 15 games.
— Jeff Bailey was named MVP of the IL after posting a .301 batting average and 25 home runs.
Triple-A Pawtucket lost its second consecutive game Sunday to the Charlotte Knights, a 5-4 home decision. The defeat put the PawSox 1.5 games behind Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the International League North standings. But perhaps the bigger loss for manager Ron Johnson’s crew came with news that starter Charlie Zink will replace Tim Wakefield in the Red Sox’s starting rotation as the veteran knuckleballer was placed on the 15-day disabled list with tightness in his throwing shoulder.
Zink is proving to be rather valuable to Pawtucket this season, and his 13-4 record matches teammate David Pauley for the league lead in wins. Match that with his 2.89 ERA and his 5-2 mark over his last 10 starts, and he’s been more than a formidable asset in the PawSox’s rotation. That presence will likely be missed over the next two weeks, as Zink is inked to make two starts for Wakefield during this stint on the DL.
The catch? Though it might not matter to the young knuckleballer, he’ll be making this first start with Boston on four days rest.
— Mark Remme
On a night where the Red Sox are looking to avoid their eighth consecutive sweep to the Angels, Boston is holding their annual Cape Cod League Recognition Night at Fenway Park. The team will honor the members of the 2008 All-Star teams, and the crew has been circulating the ballpark since about 3 p.m. this afternoon throughout the concourse.
Donning blue polo shirts, the crew is easy to identify.
Sometimes on a night like this, it’s fun to look back and identify who took their trek to the big leagues through Cape Cod, an amateur league in its 114th year. In fact, on average one in seven Major League players went through the Cape — 212 were in the Majors last season, ranging from Craig Biggio to Barry Zito.
Ten current Sox went through the Cape before arriving at this Fenway Park destination: David Aardsma (Falmouth, 2002), Sean Casey (Brewster, 1994), Kevin Cash (Falmouth, 1999), Jacoby Ellsbury (Falmouth, 2004), Craig Hansen (Harwich, 2004), Javier Lopez (Falmouth, 1997), Mike Lowell (Chatham, 1994), Justin Masterson (Wareham, 2005), Jason Varitek (Hyannis, 1991, 1993), and Kevin Youkilis (Bourne, 2000).
Triple-A Pawtucket starter Charlie Zink became the International League’s first 13-game winner on Tuesday, tossing seven innings in the PawSox’s 5-3 win over Rochester. Zink is currently 13-3, and his 2.76 ERA is third best in the league.
Chris Smith closed out the game against the Red Wings, earning his 13th save. Smith has allowed six runs in nine appearances since being optioned back to Pawtucket from the Red Sox, but he hasn’t allowed a run in each of his last four outings.
Portland closing the gap
Double-A Portland ponied up a four-run 10th inning against New Hampshire highlighted by a two-run homer by Jorge Jimenez. The Sea Dogs are now five games behind Trenton in the Eastern League Northern division.
Kelly has big day against GCL Reds
Sox first-round pick Casey Kelly had his first big game Wednesday for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. Kelly went 3-for-5 against the GCL Reds in Sarasota, Fla.
Kelly recorded his first professional home run in the game and knocked in two RBIs. The Red Sox took the game 8-7 on the road against a team managed by Kelly’s father, Pat. A regular shortstop, Kelly played DH in the game and batted third.
In eight games this season, Kelly is batting .182 with a double, homer and two RBIs.
— Mark Remme
It’s likely not always easy for Triple-A Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson. You see, it seems like Johnson has shared half his team with the Boston Red Sox through much of the season.
Boston’s injuries have been well documented all year. Look at the casualties: David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, Bartolo Colon, Jacoby Ellsbury. Even Coco Crisp and Manny Ramirez have been banged up. There hasn’t been a whole lot of stability at the Major League level for the defending World Champions.
So in the midst of these stints on the disabled list, Johnson’s crew has seen both the benefits and the downsides. The good? Guys like Ortiz, Colon and Buchholz have spent time with the PawSox, giving the ballclub dangerous key components that have shown success in the Majors.
The bad, of course, is a revolving door of prospects and rehab assignments that keep changing places. Jeff Baily, Chris Carter and Brandon Moss have all spent time with the PawSox and the Red Sox this season, as have pitchers Chris Smith and Justin Masterson. And being the right-hand man to a team like Boston might sometimes feel like news of change comes every other day.
It’s a wonder that Johnson’s crew is in the position it’s in, but sure enough Pawtucket is right where it wants to be — first place in the International League North.
The PawSox snapped a season-high four-game losing streak on Wednesday against Columbus, and in the wake of a 10-game winning streak by Scranton/Wilkes Barre they’ve watched their division lead shrink to one game.
But at 64-41, Pawtucket is exactly where it wants to be at this point in the season. After Scranton, no one in the division is in position to contend. Third-place Syracuse is an astounding 12 games back in the standings.
So even with their position as a second home to Red Sox newcomers and rehab assignments, this scrappy crew has endured and even flourished. And with a farm system built for the future like the Red Sox have, there is no end in sight for this ballclub.
Watch out for outfielder Joe Thurston. He’s batting .394 in his last nine games, raising his overall average to a league-best .319. He also ranks second with 119 hits.
Right-handed pitcher Charlie Zink suffered his first loss since May 5 in a loss to Toledo on July 19. That loss to the Mud Hens wasn’t his finest outing, allowing nine runs (five earned) in a season-low 1 2/3 innings. But in between the two losses, Zink collected eight wins wiht a 2.04 ERA. He leads the leage with a 2.54 ERA, and his 11-3 record ties him with David Pauley for the league lead in wins.
Righty Devern Hansack struck out a season-high 11 batters against Columbus on Wednesday. He is 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA in his last eight starts.