In a performance that will no doubt solidify Bartolo Colon’s return to the Red Sox’s roster, Triple-A Pawtucket could not quite find the offensive strength needed to extend its own season. On Sunday, Colon threw 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball for the PawSox, but a Shelley Duncan two-run homer off Edgar Martinez in the bottom of the 10th gave Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a 2-0 victory and a series-clinching win.
The Yankees took the series three games to one, moving to the International League Governors’ Cup finals against Durham. The two will square off Tuesday night.
As for the PawSox, the loss also means members of the PawSox roster will now be recalled to Boston for its own postseason run. Among those on Tuesday are outfielder Chris Carter and catcher George Kottaras. Carter batted .300 with 24 homers and 81 RBIs for Pawtucket this season, and was 2-for-3 in his Major League debut with the Red Sox on June 5.
Kottaras will be making his Major League debut after batting .243 with 22 homers and 64 RBIs in 107 games for the PawSox this year.
Colon is slated to pitch Saturday for the Red Sox as part of the team’s doubleheader with Toronto.
Portland’s season ends
Much like Pawtucket, Double-A Portland had its own season come to a close over the weekend with a 5-4 defeat to another Yankees affiliate, Trenton. Sea Dogs reliever Miguel Asencio walked Colin Curtis in the top of the ninth inning to break the 4-4 tie, allowing Trenton to take the series in a three-game sweep.
The Thunder will now face Akron, who defeated Bowie in their own semifinal matchup. Trenton will be searching for its second straight Eastern League title.
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.
Bartolo Colon put together a promising start on Monday for Triple-A Pawtucket against Lehigh Valley. Colon, the 2005 Cy Young Award winner rehabbing a lower back injury, pitched six innings for the PawSox and allowed just one run in a 9-2 victory. Colon scattered four hits while walking one and striking out one.
He’s 3-1 this season for Pawtucket, which includes nine appearances over two stints since April 3. He’s 1-1 in his latest stint since Aug. 5. In this particular outing, Colon tossed 66 pitches, 48 for strikes.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona hasn’t committed to anything set in stone about September callups, but he did allude to the possibility of Colon arriving for one of Boston’s Sept. 13 games during a doubleheader against Toronto. Francona said he’d like to see Colon pitch once more with Pawtucket before he makes any return, but nothing is definite at this stage.
— Double-A Portland clinched a spot in the Eastern League playoffs with Birmingham’s 9-6 loss to New Britain on Sunday. It is the fourth consecutive seaosn the Sea Dogs will be in the playoffs.
Michael Bowden will make his Major League debut on Saturday against the White Sox, as Boston looks to take the first two games of its weekend series against Chicago at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox officially purchased Bowden’s contract from Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday afternoon, and the 21-year-old right-hander will wear No. 64 against the White Sox. Bowden was 0-3 in seven games for the PawSox since being called up from Double-A Portland in July. He was 9-4 with a 2.33 ERA with the Sea Dogs.
To make room for Bowden on Boston’s 40-man roster, the Sox designated right-handed pitcher Eric Hull for assignment. Hull, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in April, is 2-3 with a 4.12 ERA in 40 games for Pawtucket.
The Red Sox also assigned infielder Joe Thurston outright to Pawtucket. Thurston had been designated for assignment by Boston on Aug. 27.
The Red Sox, in dire need of backup in their outfield with J.D. Drew headed for the 15-day disabled list, acquired Mark Kotsay from the Braves in exchange for Minor League outfielder Luis Sumoza.
Sumoza, 20, was hitting .301 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs in 51 games with Single-A Lowell in 2008. He was in his fifth season with the Boston organization after being signed as a non-drafted free agent in July 2004.
Kotsay, who was signed by Florida in the first round of the 1996 amateur draft, spent time with the Marlins, Padres, A’s and Braves before coming to Boston. He’s a career .282 hitter with 109 homers and 597 RBIs in 1,427 career games.
He’s batting .289 with six home runs and 37 RBIs in 81 games this season. Kotsay, 32, is a strong left-handed hitter versus right-handers (.305 lifetime average) and is a strong outfielder — having not committed an error in 176 chances this season.
In a slew of roster moves by the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, the team purchased the contract of Triple-A Pawtucket infielder/outfielder Joe Thurston. The move is linked to right fielder J.D. Drew’s placement on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain.
To make room for Thurston on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox moved starter Bartolo Colon — who is currently making rehab starts for the PawSox — on the 60-day disabled list.
Meanwhile, with Tim Wakefield coming off the DL for a Tuesday start against New York, reliever Chris Smith is being optioned back to Pawtucket to make room for the veteran knuckleballer on the roster.
Thurston is batting .314 with 10 homers and 62 RBIs in 123 games this season for the PawSox. He leads the International League with 155 hits, is third with 81 runs and has the fifth best batting average.
He was 0-for-8 in four games with the Red Sox in April, owning a career .227 Major League average in 59 games with the Dodgers, Phillies and Red Sox.
Smith was 1-0 with a 5.06 ERA in six relief appearances for Boston this season.
If there’s any one word you could use to describe the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox this season, it’s got to be resilient. After all, this club stood tough all season while losing player after player to the big league Red Sox. They stressed their bullpen while helping rehabbing Red Sox starters like Bartolo Colon regain strength on the mound. And then, of course, they saw top hitting prospect Brandon Moss leave the organization as part of the Manny Ramirez trade on July 31.
But that just hasn’t stopped this crop of talented young players from achieving all season long. And for its efforts, Pawtucket earned its first playoff berth since 2003 after Toledo lost 6-1 to Richmond on Saturday. At 81-56, the PawSox stand 3.5 games behind Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the International League North with seven games to play.
Louisville already clinched the IL West title, while the Yankees and PawSox have already clinched playoff berths and will duke it out in the remaining week to see who earns the division title. Pawtucket takes on Lehigh Valley tonight for the third tilt of a four-game set. The PawSox took the first two contests, 8-5 and 4-2.
Portland Struggling; Buchholz solid in start
The same can’t be said for Double-A Portland, who is 2-5 in its last seven games following a six-game winning streak in the middle of the month.
Still, at 11.5 games behind Trenton in the Eastern League North, the Sea Dogs are fighting for their playoff lives. They have seven games remaining to lock up a spot in postseason play.
Clay Buchholz made his first start of the season for the Sea Dogs on Monday against New Britain, earning a no decision in Portland’s 6-5 loss. Buchholz, whom the Red Sox sent to Double-A on Aug. 20 after going 2-9 on the season with a 6.75 ERA, went seven innings for the Sea Dogs while allowing five hits and four runs (three earned). He struck out eight.