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Governors' Cup Game 4 live blog: Durham vs. PawSox

Posted by Craig Forde September 14, 2013 05:29 PM

FINAL: The Durham Bulls win their fourth International League Governors’ Cup title, winning three straight games over the PawSox after dropping the opener in Durham. It is the second time that the Bulls have taken down the PawSox in the championship series and is their first title since 2009. They will play in the Triple-A National Championship game next Tuesday night in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania versus the eventual winner of the Pacific Coast League, either Omaha or Salt Lake. For Pawtucket, it was a lack of offense that did them in as they were unable to score a run over the final 29 innings of the series. You can’t win if you can’t score, and of course it’s tough to score when Durham’s pitching was as good as they were. Another season is in the books, and both teams, organizations and fan bases should be proud of the efforts the players put forth all season long.

Bottom 9th: Henry goes 4-3 for out number one. Diaz Ks. Hassan pops up to second. Ballgame. Season. Celebration time for the Bulls. Durham, 7-0

Top 9th: Figueroa flies out to center. Beckham grounds to short. Belnome doubles to left-center gap. Bourgeois grounds out to third. Durham, 7-0

Bottom 8th: Hazelbaker Ks. Durham makes a pitching change, Steve Geltz on in relief. Wilkerson grounds out to second. Meneses grounds out to third. Durham, 7-0

Top 8th: Duncan grounds out to second. Fontenot grounds out to first. Albernaz singles into center. Keirmaier flies out to right. Durham, 7-0

Bottom 7th: Providence native Jeff Beliveau on to pitch for Durham. Hamilton Ks swinging for the second time tonight. Butler skies on in foul territory, handled by Belnome. Thomas Ks. Durham, 7-0

Top 7th: Belnome strikes out. Bourgeois goes 4-3 on the groundout. Guyer pops out to second. Durham, 7-0

Bottom 6th: We're going speed round on the blog unless something major happens because this one is officially out of hand, so I want to work on my game story a bit and get out of this place at a reasonable time...hopefully not soaked in champagne. Meneses goes down swinging for the second time tonight. Henry pops out in the grass behind short. Diaz with a solid single into left-center, his and the team's second hit of the night. Hassan goes right back to Kelly for a 1-3 inning ending ground out. Durham, 7-0

Top 6th: Jonathan Diaz goes diving to his left to snag a Guyer grounder, pops up quickly and fires to Hamilton for the out. Diaz has certainly impressed in the field this postseason. Duncan draws a walk. Fontenot rips a hit to center that rolls all the way to the wall for a triple and another Bulls run. Terry Doyle comes in to relieve Huntzinger. Albernaz grounds out to second. Kiermaier pulls one past the diving Diaz, scoring Fontenot. Kiermaier is 2-for-4 with three RBIs. A wild pitch rolls to the backstop and the lightning quick Kiermaier gets all to way to third on the play. Figueroa takes the next pitch into center for Durham's 10th hit and 7th run of the game. Beckham grounds to short to stop the bleeding. Durham, 7-0

Bottom 5th: Butler is hit by a pitch to lead things off. A wild pitch moves Butler up to second but on the ensuing 3-2 pitch Thomas goes down swinging. Hazelbaker goes down swinging as well, number 5 for Kelly. Wilkerson makes it officially a trend as he Ks for the second time tonight. Durham, 4-0

Top 5th: Beckham draws a leadoff walk. Beckham is then gunned down trying to steal second, although from my vantage point it looked as if he may have beat the throw as the tag came down on his legs. Belnome grounds to second for the second out. Bourgeois Ks to end the inning. Durham, 4-0

Bottom 4th: Merrill Kelly continues to cruise and gets Henry to fly to center for the tenth straight PawSox out. Jonathan Diaz punches one through the hole on the left side of the infield and Pawtucket gets their first base runner of the game. Hassan lines out to center. Hamilton lifts one towards the RCF gap, but it hangs up for out number three. Durham, 4-0

Top 4th: Albarnez goes down looking and waits in the box in disbelief. He does eventually leave to make way for Kiermaier's third at-bat of the game. Meneses makes things interesting on a high pop up in the infield, dropping to his knees as he catches Kiermaier's pop. Figueroa flies out to left and Huntzinger gets the PawSox a much needed 1-2-3 inning. Durham, 4-0

Bottom 3rd: Jeremy Hazelbaker grounds out to second. Shannon Wilkerson strikes out looking, as does Heiker Meneses and Pawtucket is down in order for the third straight inning. Durham, 4-0

Top 3rd: Belnome draws the leadoff walk and is the seventh Durham batter to reach so far. Bourgeois immediately bounces to short and Meneses steps on the bag and throws to first for the double play. Guyer takes a 1-0 pitch to the opposite field gap for a triple, Durham's first this postseason. Duncan follows with a double and it's quite possible that 'the route is on'...words that no one expected to see in this series. Still plenty of time for Pawtucket. Brock Huntzinger comes into the game to pitch for Pawtucket and uses just one pitch in forcing Fontenot to ground out to second to end the inning. In three innings the Bulls have already matched their hit total, 7, from 14 innings last night. Durham, 4-0

Bottom 2nd: On a 2-2 count Mark Hamilton swings and misses and 82 mph slider from Kelly. Dan Butler dribbles one back to Kelly for an easy out two and the PawSox offense has picked up where it left off...somewhere far from McCoy Stadium. Tony Thomas with a hot shot up to second, but not through, and Pawtucket goes down in order once more. Durham, 3-0

Top 2nd: Former Yankee Shelley Duncan goes full count before walking back to the bench after looking at strike three on the inside corner. He didn't seem to disagree. Nasty knuckler from Haeger there. Mike Fontenot takes an 0-1 pitch back up the middle for the third Durham single. Fall River native Craig Albernaz strikes out swinging. Keirmaier takes the first pitch he sees over the right-center field wall for a two-run homer, his second in Triple-A. Figueroa follows with a bloop single into left that a diving Justin Henry can't come up with. Beckham flies out to center and Haeger may be about done here as Brock Huntizinger begins to warm in the PawSox pen. Durham, 3-0

Bottom 1st: Justin Henry rips a few shots foul, then weakly grounds back to the pitcher Merrill Kelly for an out. Jonathan Diaz runs the count full, but then flies out to center. Alex Hassan flies to left and the PawSox are retired in order. That is 22 straight innings without a run for the Red Sox. Durham, 1-0

Top 1st: At 6:06 p.m. Charlie Haeger knuckles in the first pitch at 71 mph for a strike. Kevin Kiermaier flails his bat out and pops one harmlessly to left for the game's first out. Haeger handcuffs Cole Figueroa who grounds out to second. Tim Beckham shows some nice patience, watching four pitches go by for a walk. Vince Belnome slices one opposite field into left for a single, putting two runners on with two outs. Jason Bourgeois singles into center and Beckham comes around to give the Bulls an early lead. Haeger gets Brandon Guyer to fly out to center before another run can cross. Durham, 1-0

photo (17).JPGPreview: With first pitch set for 6:05 p.m. tonight, everyone in the building is hopeful that we can fit this thing in before we hit Sunday! Game time temps should be right around 64 degrees and should gradually dip into the 50s throughout the night. The winds are firmly pushing the flags from center to right. We're moments away from Game 4 of the International League Governors' Cup Finals and we'll soon see if the Durham Bulls will be popping champagne bottles, or if we'll be back for Game 5 tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. Keep it here for a live, running blog and feel free to drop comments and also follow on Twitter @OnDeckBDC.

Governors' Cup Game 4 preview

Posted by Craig Forde September 14, 2013 05:05 PM
Game 4, Saturday, 6:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium
Durham leads series, 2-1

Let’s be quick to leave last night’s marathon game in the past. It’s a new day, the sun is shining and we are blessed to have at least one more game left this season. The PawSox will be looking to make it two more games as they try to even the series after a frustrating offensive performance last night. In 14 innings Pawtucket only managed 4 hits, a single in each of the first and second innings, then nothing until extras.

Bryce Brentz had one of the toughest nights I’ve had to witness a player have. Heading into the 14th he was already 0-for-5 with a ‘Golden Sombrero’ to his credit. Then he makes the three-base error on leadoff hitter Kevin Kiermarier’s playable fly to right, setting up the Bulls for two runs. Then, after Pawtucket loaded the bases in the bottom of the 14th, Brentz had the opportunity to be the ultimate redeemer, but struck out for the fifth time on the night, ending the game. He is 0-for-14 in the series and is not in the starting lineup tonight.

So the big question should be where will the Pawtucket offense come from? Neither team has had much of it all this playoffs. Durham is batting .194 as a team while Pawtucket is at .208 and we have had only seven total runs scored in three games. So we shouldn't anticipate either side to suddenly break out the heavy lumber tonight.

Of course all credit due to the pitching, which has been outstanding on both sides and has ultimately made this a fantastic, high-intensity series over the first three games.

Durham looks to Merrill Kellly to close things out. The 24-year-old righty was 8-4 for the Bulls in the regular season and he tossed 5 2/3 scoreless against Indianapolis in Game 3 of their semifinals. He went 5 1/3 innings against the PawSox on July 20th, but earned a loss after allowing nine hits and six runs.

Pawtucket will lean on Charlie Haeger to not only pitch like all the other starters have so far, but to also maybe eat some innings after they used seven relievers last night, He picked up the win in the Game 5 clincher versus Rochester last Sunday, allowing just four hits and no runs in 5 1/3 innings. Haeger faced Kelly in that July 20th game, picking up the win over the Bulls after going 7 2/3 innings.

Not that 5-plus hours of baseball is a horrible way to spend a night, but let’s hope for a nice, quick affair, then maybe we can come back again tomorrow and do this one more time before it’s all said and done.

I’ll crank up the live blog here in a bit, but you can also catch the action at MiLB.TV (subscription required) and check your local radio listings here .

STARTING LINEUPS (with playoff averages)

Durham Bulls
CF Kevin Kiermaier (.200)
3B Cole Figueroa (.240)
SS Tim Beckham (.321)
1B Vince Belnome (.235)
LF Jason Bourgeois (.231)
RF Brandon Guyer (.231)
DH Shelley Duncan (.091)
2B Mike Fontenot (.048)
C Craig Albernaz (.333)

RHP Merrill Kelly (1-0, 0.00)

Pawtucket Red Sox
LF Justin Henry (.350)
2B Jonathan Diaz (.120)
RF Alex Hassan (.107)
1B Mark Hamilton (.148)
C Dan Butler (.316)
2B Tony Thomas (.333)
DH Jeremy Hazelbaker (.278)
CF Shannon Wilkerson (.000)
SS Heiker Meneses (.250)

RHP Charlie Haeger (1-0, 0.00)

Governors' Cup Game 3 live blog: Durham vs. PawSox

Posted by Craig Forde September 13, 2013 07:02 PM

Bottom 14th: Kirby Yates on to close things out for Durham. Meneses gets hit by a pitch. Henry strikes out. Diaz grounds out to short on the fielders choice. Hazelbaker draws a walk. Hamilton draws a walk. Brentz Ks to end it. Durham, 2-0

Top 14th: Chris Carpenter on for Pawtucket and he Ks Flores to start the inning. Brentz misplays a liner by Kiermaier as the ball bounces off his glove and to the wall for a three-base error. Figueroa is intentionally walked. On a ground ball to Holt at second, he fires home to try and cut down Kiermaier, but had no play to begin with. Vazquez was hustling down the line to back up first so Holt's throw went to no one, slammed off the back stop and Durham scores. Belnome is walked. Bourgeois grounds to short, Meneses to Holt to get the out at second, but they can't complete the double play and another run scores. Anderson goes down on strikes to end the inning. Durham, 2-0

Bottom 13th: Brentz draws the leadoff walk and Thomas moves him into scoring position with a sac bunt. Holt's groundout to short pushes Brentz to third. Vazquez flied to center and another inning is needed...at least! No score

Top 13th: Anderson grounds out 6-3 to start the inning. Guyer goes down on a check-swing strikeout. Fontenot ground down to Hamilton who steps on the bag to end the inning. No score

Bottom 12th: Vazquez works a leadoff walk after a seven pitch at-bat. Meneses moves Vazquez into scoring position on a sac bunt down the first base line. Justin Henry hits a line shot back at the pitcher, ball bounces out of Romero's glove, but he recovers in time to get Henry at first. Very close play at first, Romero is also lucky he didn't get his because that was a hard shot by Henry. Vazquez moves to third and then Diaz is intentionally walked to put runners at the corners with two outs. Hazelbaker takes one off the right shoulder to load the bases. Hamilton continues to show a lack of discipline at the plate, free swinging and striking out to end the threat. No score

Top 12th: Rowland-Smith gets Beckham looking on an inside slider to start things off. Belnome hits one to right that kept traveling to the track, but was caught by Brentz. Bourgeois K's to end the inning. No score...growing tired!

Bottom 11th: Brentz strikes out to lead off the inning and slams his bat in frustration. Understandable as he is 0-for-13 this series and he has struck out four times tonight. Tony Thomas tries to get things going with an infield single in the hole at short. Thomas is then caught stealing and McCoy Stadium deflates once more. Holt them goes down swinging and we have another inning to play. No score

Top 11th: Martin starts things off with a K of Flores, his third straight K. It also earns him the rest of the night off as DiSarcina bring on Ryan Rowland-Smith to face Kiermaier. Rowland-Smith dispatches of Kiermaier via strikeout. Figueroa flies to right to end the inning. No score

Bottom 10th: Diaz flies to center to lead things off, and the hit draught continues. Montoyo goes to his pen once more, this time calling on the lefty C.J. Riefenhauser to face Hazelbaker. Hazelbaker reaches on an infield single, but is then caught trying to steal second. Words are exchanged with Beckham who has been getting lippy with the PawSox over the last few innings. Hamilton flies out to deep center to end the inning. No score

Top 10th: Tim Beckham hits a blast to left field that Jeremy Hazelbaker doesn't get a good jump on and it rakes the wall for a leadoff double. Belnome is intentionally walked. Bourgeois sac bunts the runners over and Anderson is then intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Chris Martin comes on in relief for Pawtucket. With the count full, Martin reaches back and finds 95 mph to get Guyer swinging for the second out. Martin then goes up a notch to 96 to K Fontenot and end the inning. Huge performance by Martin there. No score

Bottom 9th: Dan Butler works hard for a leadoff walk. After going 3-0, he takes two strikes, fouls off three, then gets one inside at his feet for the free pass. Tony Thomas comes on to pinch run. Brock Holt barely gets a piece of bunt attempt, halting the ball just in front of the batter's box, allowing Flores to pounce and gun down the lead runner at second. Steve Geltz on to pitch for Durham, their fifth hurler of the game. Holt swipes second without a throw, putting the winning run in scoring position. Vazquez hits a bouncer up the middle, handled by Geltz who catches Holt going to third and after a brief rundown the lead runner is tagged out. Meneses with a hot grounder to third that cannot be handled and the PawSox keep hope alive with runners on first and second. Henry lines out to the shortstop on the first pitch and we are headed to extra innings. No score

Top 9th: Anthony Carter comes on to pitch for Pawtucket. Guyer pokes a leadoff single into left field. Fontenot lays down a solid sac bunt down the first base line, Guyer advances to second as Carter throws to Hamilton just in time for the out. Carter goes with the high heat (94 mph) on Flores to strike him out. Pitching coach Rich Sauveur comes out for a chat with Carter who then intentionally walks Kiermaier. Carter then goes blows 93 & 94 mile-per-hour fastballs past Figueroa for the final out. No score

Bottom 8th: Leadoff walk for Diaz who now has two base-on-balls and a hit-by-pitch tonight. Hassan with a hard chopper to third only allows for the force out at second as Diaz comes in hard to the bag to halt any throw to first. Montoyo brings on Providence native Jeff Beliveau to pitch. Hazelbaker, on to pinch run for Hassan, steals second base with Hamilton at the plate, then is awarded third on a Beliveau walk. Hamilton whiffs on high heat for the second out. Brentz strikes out swinging is now 0-for-4 for the third straight game. No score

Top 8th: Beckham whistles a low liner into center field and the charging Justin Henry makes a spectacular diving play for the first out. The McCoy Stadium faithful give him a well-deserved round of applause for the effort. Balnome reaches first on a walk, his second free pass of the night. Bourgeois flies out to left. Villareal gets Anderson swinging to end the inning, earning a first pump from Vazquez and a rousing cheer from the crowd. No score

Bottom 7th: Vazquez doesn't look good in his at-bat, swinging and missing off his front foot on the final two offerings from Juan Sandoval. Meneses fouls away five pitches in an nine pitch showdown that ends with a groundout to second. Henry flies to left for the second time tonight, ending the inning, the second straight 1-2-3 for Durham. No score

Top 7th: Fontenot skies the first pitch of the inning to right, again the wind knocks it down and Brentz makes the out. DiSarcina lifts Beato for Brayan Villareal. After issuing a walk to Flores in an 8 pitch battle, Kiermaier flies to shallow left for the second out. Figueroa grounds to Meneses for the final out. No score

Bottom 6th: Brentz goes down on Ks for the second time tonight. He is 0-for-3 on the evening. Butler, first pitch swinging, flies out to center. Holt waits for the second pitch to swing, but has similar results, flying out to left field. No score

Top 6th: Hamilton juggles a hard grounder by Beckham, but recovers in time to flip to Barnes for the out. Barnes puts Belnome on with four straight balls and manager Gary DiSarcina comes out to spell his starter who had a very solid night, but ran into a high pitch count early, or he could have gone longer. Pedro Beato is the reliever of choice for the PawSox. Bourgeois opposite fields a single to welcome Beato to the fray and for the second straight inning the Bulls have a man in scoring position. Anderson shoots a lazy fly to shallow center, handled by Henry for the second out. Diaz goes ranging to his left on a chopper in the grass to record the final out on Guyer. No score

Bottom 5th: Meneses lifts a long fly ball to left, but the wind does a good job at killing the momentum of the ball and it's caught before the track. Henry draws a walk, the fifth by Buschmann, a season-high. Diaz takes a 3-0 pitch off the his left bicep and the Sox have two on with one out, their biggest threat of the game so far. On an 0-2 count to Hassan, Henry and Diaz make a break for it and pull off the double steal without a throw. Hassan then goes down looking and Durham manager Charlie Montoyo pulls the hook on Buschmann for the night. Lefty Adam Libertore comes on to face Mark Hamilton who swings at the first pitch and grounds it softly to second, ending the inning. No score

Top 5th: Fontenot works Barnes for a free pass, the first yielded by the PawSox starter. Flores shows bunt on the first pitch, but draws it back. Gets the second pitch and drops down a nice one in front of Barnes who plays it to first for the out. After getting down 2-0 in the count to Kiermaier, Barnes manages to force a fly ball to foul territory that Alex Hassan gets to just before the wall. Figueroa manages to not K this time, but grounds to third to end the frame. No score

Bottom 4th: Butler skies a 2-2 offering to center field for out number one. Holt goes down swinging for the second out. Vazquez pops out in foul territory as Durham and Buschmann enjoy their first 1-2-3 inning. No score

Top 4th: Belnome becomes the seventh strikeout victim for Barnes, swinging ahead of a 78 mph changeup. Bourgeois rips a single over Jonathan Diaz at third, nearly decapitating the third baseman. Anderson skies one behind the plate and Vazquez has just enough room between him and the netting to make the catch. Guyer rips a shot back up the middle that barely misses Barnes, but Brock Holt, who was moving to the bag on the running Bourgeois, was stationed perfectly to make the play and end the inning. Barnes is up to 68 pitches, 46 for strikes. No score

Bottom 3rd: Justin Henry flies out to left. Diaz strikes out swinging and cannot beat the throw down to third after it hit the dirt. In a tough at-bat Alex Hassan draws a walk. It's the third in as many innings for Buschmann. Hamilton makes it four walks as he goes down to first after four straight balls. Bryce Brentz grabs hold of an 0-2 pitch and puts a charge into it, but it is caught on the warning track, ending the threat. No score

Top 3rd: Kiermaier leads off with a grounder to Meneses and nearly beats out the play as the shortstop hesitated for a moment as the speedy Kiermaier got up the line in a hurry. Figueroa goes down swinging for Barnes sixth K of the night. Jonathan Diaz fields a Tim Beckham grounder at third and tosses over to Hamilton to end the inning. A much needed 1-2-3 for Barnes who used only 10 pitches that inning. No score

Bottom 2nd: Bryce Brentz continues to slump, leading off with a strikeout on three straight pitches. Dan Butler follows with a single back up the box for the second PawSox hit of the night. Brock Holt hits a shallow fly to left, turned into an adventurous out thanks to Tim Beckham who charged out towards left fielder Jason Bourgeois who tipped the ball seemingly thinking that a collision was imminent. Thankfully for the Bulls Beckham came up with the ball on a far-from-routine 7-6 putout. Christian Vazquez patiently draws a walk on four straight pitches from Buschmann. The inning ends with two PawSox left on base when Heiker Meneses grounds out to short. No score

Top 2nd: Bourgeois leads off with a harmless pop up to second, handled by Brock Holt for the first out. Leslie Anderson gets a hold of a 1-1 fastball and lines it over Bryce Brentz's head in right-center. Brentz got a bad jump on the ball, but it took off on him and he most likely had no play on it to begin with. Barnes mixing in a lot more off speed stuff here in the second, with mixed results. Brandon Guyer takes a 95 mph fastball opposite field for a single and as Anderson was rounding third, Brentz came up with a perfect throw to home, sending Anderson scrambling back to third. Barnes goes to 94 mph on the outside corner to get Mike Fontenot looking. Barnes works his way out of the jam by straight attacking the last two batters of the inning as Jesus Flores becomes strikeout victim number five. No score

Bottom 1st: Justin Henry gets the PawSox off on the right foot with a solid single through the right side of the infield. After a couple of pickoff attempts over to first, Henry breaks for second and is thrown out by Jesus Flores with relative ease. Jonathan Diaz draws a walk. Alex Hassan can't hold up on strike three as he goes down swinging. Mark Hamilton laces a 1-1 pitch to left, but Jason Bourgeois gets to it charging in, ending the inning. No score

Top 1st: Matt Barnes comes out firing four straight fastballs that steadily increased in speed, but Kevin Kiermaier bloops one out to center and a charging Justin Henry loses it in the lights for a leadoff single. Cole Figueroa goes down looking on some inside heat. Christian Vazquez nearly catches Keirmaier napping at first with a snap throw down to Mark Hamilton. Barnes retires Tim Beckham on a 78 mph changeup that Beckham simply was not ready for, swinging way out in front of it. Kiermaier steals second base, but Barnes fires 95 past Belnome to end the inning. Barnes uses 22 pitches to get through. No
score

Governors' Cup Game 3 preview

Posted by Craig Forde September 13, 2013 06:56 PM
Game 3, Friday, 7:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium
Series tied, 1-1

The Governors’ Cup Finals move north as Pawtucket opens the gates to McCoy Stadium for the final games of the season. Now it’s a matter of if we’ll get two or three more games before it’s a wrap. Thus far the series has belonged to the pitchers as both offenses have been stagnant and most scores have not been of the garden variety.

Tonight Durham righty Matt Buschmann toes the rubber in search of gaining the Bulls an advantage in this series. He was originally drafted by San Diego in the 15th round of the 2006 draft and has bounced around the minors the for the eight seasons, landing the Rays system last year. He has made 188 appearances, 17 starts for Durham this season and is 8-2 with a 2.97 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 97 innings. He was beat up pretty good in his one start versus the PawSox back on July 21st, allowing seven runs on eight hits and two walks.

Matt Barnes gets the ball in his third Triple-A start and will look to rebound off of a bit of a bumpy start last Saturday versus Rochester. In that game Barnes was pumping his heat up to 96-97 mph, so the Bulls can expect a steady diet of that tonight. It will be interesting to see how well he can mix in his other offerings to keep an already dormant offense off balance.

You can catch the action at MiLB.TV (subscription required) or by checking the local radio listings here.

STARTING LINEUPS

Durham Bulls
CF Kevin Kiermaier
3B Cole Figueroa
SS Tim Beckham
1B Vince Belnome
LF Jason Bourgeois
DH Leslie Anderson
RF Brandon Guyer
2B Mike Fontenot
C Jesus Flores

RHP Matt Buschmann

Pawtucket Red Sox
CF Justin Henry
3B Jonathan Diaz
LF Alex Hassan
1B Mark Hamilton
RF Bryce Brentz
DH Dan Butler
2B Brock Holt
C Christian Vazquez
SS Heiker Meneses

RHP Matt Barnes

Governors' Cup final heads to Pawtucket tied, 1-1

Posted by Craig Forde September 12, 2013 01:51 PM

GOVERNORS’ CUP FINAL
(series tied, 1-1)
Game 1: Pawtucket 2, Durham 1
Game 2: Durham 2, Pawtucket 1
Game 3: Friday, September 13, Durham at PawSox, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4: Saturday, September 14, Durham at PawSox, 6:05 p.m.
*Game 5: Sunday, September 15, Durham at PawSox, 1:05 p.m.
* - if necessary

Much like Game 1 of the Governors’ Cup Final, Game 2 was one for the pitchers, with reversed results as the Durham Bulls returned the favor by coming back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Pawtucket, 2-1, and even things up in the best-of-five series.

Steven Wright put forth another valiant effort for the PawSox, but would depart after giving up one run in both the sixth and seventh innings.

Wright threw 104 pitches over 6 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out six.

Durham starter J.D. Martin allowed just one run on four hits and a walk in his six innings and was followed by relievers C.J. Riefenhauser and Kirby Yates who allowed just a walk over the final three frames.

In total the Bulls pitchers struck out nine PawSox batters.

Pawtucket pushed across their only run in the third inning when Jonathan Diaz’s groundout to short plated Justin Henry from third base for an early, 1-0, lead.

The PawSox were unable to produce much offense from there, putting only four more men on base the rest of the way, none of which advanced past second base.

The Bulls gained the momentum when Jason Bourgeois scored on a passed ball in the sixth to tie the game and then they capitalized when Kevin Kiermaier drove in Craig Albernaz with a seventh inning double.

One takeaway from watching this game, besides the intense pitching performances on both ends, was the continued fine play in the PawSox infield, in particular Brock Holt’s quickness in turning a double play.

The series now makes its way to Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium, with Friday and Saturday night games both happening for sure, while Sunday sits in wait if necessary.

You can purchase great seats to all of the remaining games – your last chance this year to catch ANY Minor League Baseball in the region – by clicking here or calling 401-724-7300.

Matt Barnes – ranked as the 54th best prospect in the game and the Red Sox third ranked pitching prospect according to MLB.com – gets the start on Friday night, so get out and support your future Red Sox as they look to defend their Governors’ Cup crown.

PawSox playoff pic.jpg

Governors' Cup final: PawSox vs. Durham, Game 2 preview

Posted by Craig Forde September 11, 2013 03:08 PM
Game 2, Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. at Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Pawtucket leads series, 1-0

If Game 1 was any indication as to how this Governors’ Cup final will shape up, then we’re in for a dandy of a baseball showcase in the coming days

It’s not often that a top-notch pitching matchup truly lives up the hype, but Durham’s Jake Odorizzi and Pawtucket’s Anthony Ranaudo were both sensational last night, each allowing just four hits before departing.

Ranaudo kept the PawSox in it through his six innings of work, giving up just one run in the second inning while striking out four.

Unlike his start in the semifinals versus Rochester where he continuously missed high with his pitches, Ranaudo was throwing down in the zone and was consistent with his fastball which was averaging around 91-92 miles-per-hour.

Odorizzi was a hair better, striking out seven and not giving up a run over seven innings. He did a phenomenal job of mixing in all of his offerings and as he surpassed 90 pitches into the seventh inning he reared back and blew 94 mph heat past Dan Butler to finish his night by striking out the side.

The good news for Pawtucket was that Odorizzi was unable to go the distance, and once out of the game they took full advantage, getting to reliever Jeff Beliveau immediately in the eighth.

After a Justin Henry single and a Heiker Meneses hit-by-pitch, Brock Holt (2-for-4) once again came up big when it counted the most, smoking a hot grounder to the right of second baseman Mike Fontenot who could not make a diving stop on the ball, allowing both Henry and Meneses to score and giving Pawtucket a 2-1 lead that they would hold on to.

Jeremy Hazelbaker came up with a big diving catch in foul territory to end the eighth inning with runners on second and third, preserving the one-run lead and reliever Anthony Carter worked out of a one-out bases loaded situation to earn the save.

Expect much of the same in Wednesday’s Game 2 as the PawSox put out the same lineup (with Alex Hassan and Hazelbaker switching up DH/LF roles) which has won them their last two games.

They will be up against International League Pitcher of the Year J.D. Martin, who was 16-4 on the season, including a win in his only start versus the PawSox.

Steven Wright makes the start for Pawtucket, coming off of a win against Rochester in game three of the semifinal series in which he dazzled with a knuckle-fastball combo that kept the Red Wings guessing over 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

In two starts against the Bulls this season Wright only logged five innings, allowing four runs (two earned), five hits and six walks while picking up a loss.

Over his last six starts, including the postseason, Wright has allowed just six earned runs and is 4-1.

We will pick up the live blogging of this series when the clubs make their way up to Pawtucket on Friday night, following a Thursday off-day for travel, but you can catch the action at MiLB.TV (subscription required) or by checking the local radio listings here.

GAME 2 STARTING LINEUPS

Pawtucket Red Sox
3B Jonathan Diaz
2B Brock Holt
LF Alex Hassan
1B Mark Hamilton
RF Bryce Brentz
DH Jeremy Hazelbaker
C Dan Butler
CF Justin Henry
SS Heiker Meneses

Durham Bulls
CF Kevin Kiermaier
3B Cole Figueroa
SS Tim Beckham
LF Jason Bourgeois
1B Vince Belnome
RF Brandon Guyer
DH Shelley Duncan
2B Mike Fontenot
C Craig Albernaz

Salem Red Sox win Mills Cup

Posted by Craig Forde September 10, 2013 10:20 PM

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SalemSoxlogo.gifThe Salem Red Sox, Boston’s Class-A Advanced affiliate, completed a three game sweep of the Potomac Nationals and captured the Mills Cup with a 6-4 win on Tuesday.

It is the team’s first Carolina League Championship since becoming an affiliate of the Red Sox back in 2009 and the fifth overall title for Salem.

Sean Coyle, who returned to the team after missing their first round series with an elbow injury, was named the series MVP, capping a three game run in with a 2-for-3, 4 RBI night in Tuesday’s game. Coyle, who also missed time this season with knee and thumb injuries, hit .417 with 3 doubles and 7 RBIs in the playoffs.

Second baseman Mookie Betts was also sensational in the Mills Cup.jpgpostseason, hitting .412 and driving in 8 as he finished his breakout season with a 35-game on-base streak.

William Cuevas picked up the win in the clincher, going 6 innings and allowing just 2 earned runs on 6 hits and walk. David Chester and Nick Natoli each had two hits apiece in the win.

The Red Sox finished their magical run with ten straight wins, including five straight over two playoff series to become the second Red Sox affiliate in as many years to win a league title, following the PawSox 2012 Governors’ Cup Championship run.

Pawtucket is looking to make it three titles for the Sox farm as they attempt to defend their title versus Durham in the International League Championship series, of which they took a 1-0 game lead with a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night.

Governors' Cup final: PawSox vs. Durham, Game 1 preview

Posted by Craig Forde September 10, 2013 02:11 PM

Durham Bulls (87-57, IL South champion)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (80-63, IL North champion)

Season series: Pawtucket, 5-3

Titles (most recent)
Durham – 3 (2009)
Pawtucket – 3 (2012)

After a thrilling series against the Rochester Red Wings that went the full five games, the Pawtucket Red Sox now stand just three wins away from a successful defense of their 2012 Governors’ Cup Championship. Once again that road goes through North Carolina. Where last season their journey took them through Charlotte, this time around they will take Tobacco Road through Durham where they begin their best-of-five series tonight. The Bulls swept the Indianapolis Indians in three games, outscoring their opponent 10-6.

Game one features a matchup of two top pitching prospects. Bulls righty Jake Odorizzi, ranked as the 39th best prospect in the game by MLB.com, will face off against Pawtucket’s Anthony Ranaudo, ranked 80th overall. Both pitchers got a start in the semifinal round, with profoundly different results. Ranaudo struggled early in game one versus Rochester, lasting only two innings after allowing seven hits, a walk and four earned runs. On the flip side Odorizzi was downright unhittable, allowing just one base knock and three walks while striking out nine in seven scoreless innings of work.

While Ranaudo has not faced Durham this season, Odorizzi has made two starts against the PawSox. The first, back on May 5th, was even better than his game one performance against Indy. In that May matchup Odorizzi held Pawtucket hitless over seven innings and served up just four walks as he picked up the win in a combination no-hitter at McCoy Stadium. In a July 18th start against the PawSox, Odorizzi’s numbers more resembled Ranaudo’s semifinal game one as he was saddled with a loss after allowing seven hits and four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. That PawSox lineup featured the now departed Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts.

On the offensive side of the ball neither team really burned any bats in the semifinals, despite the PawSox 17 runs. The Bulls had just a .198 team average in their three games with 18 hits, only seven of which were for extra bases. Pawtucket was a bit better at a .247 team mark, but managed to punch out 11 extra-base hits, including two triples and two homers. In round one the Bulls were led by former number 1 overall pick (2008) Tim Beckham, who posted a .385 average in three games and third baseman Cole Figueroa, who batted .333. For Pawtucket, number nine hitter Heiker Meneses had a .333 average with three RBIs in five games while Brock Holt, who batted just .190, also came up big when it counted, driving in three runs as well.

The PawSox are looking to become the second straight team to repeat as International League champions, following Columbus’ titles in 2010 and 2011. Prior to the Clippers two titles the Bulls had won in 2009 and also had back-to-back titles of their own in 2002 and 2003. In that 2003 series the Bulls swept the PawSox in three games.

GAME 1 STARTING LINEUPS

Pawtucket Red Sox
3B Jonathan Diaz
2B Brock Holt
DH Alex Hassan
1B Mark Hamilton
RF Bryce Brentz
LF Jeremy Hazelbaker
C Dan Butler
CF Justin Henry
SS Heiker Meneses

RHP Anthony Ranaudo

Durham Bulls
SS Tim Beckham
3B Cole Figueroa
LF Jason Bourgeois
1B Vince Belnome
RF Brandon Guyer
DH Leslie Anderson
2B Ryan Roberts
CF Kevin Kiermaier
C Jesus Flores

RHP Jake Odorizzi

GOVERNORS’ CUP FINAL
Game 1: Tuesday, September 10, PawSox at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
Game 2: Wednesday, September 11, PawSox at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3: Friday, September 13, Durham at PawSox, 7:05 p.m.
*Game 4: Saturday, September 14, Durham at PawSox, 6:05 p.m.
*Game 5: Sunday, September 15, Durham at PawSox, 1:05 p.m.
* - if necessary

PawSox primer for Sunday's Game 5 vs. Rochester

Posted by Craig Forde September 8, 2013 11:38 AM

Governors' Cup Semifinals
1:05 p.m.
Rochester Red Wings (2-2)
at Pawtucket Red Sox (2-2)

PREGAME NOTES: It all comes down to this. Win and advance. Lose and go home for a long winter’s rest (with a stop off at instructs for most). Rochester has outscored the PawSox, 19-14, through four games and have out hit Pawtucket 46-35. The Red Wings pitching staff has a 2.31 ERA in their four games in comparison to the PawSox 4.63. The PawSox do hold an edge in striking out their opponent, having whiffed 35 Rochester batters through 35 innings, but thus far it seems as if Rochester holds the edge in most every other category. Regardless, this series is even and it some timely hitting in Pawtucket's favor will wipe that Red Wings edge right off the board. ... The winning team in each game has scored first and has done so within the first three innings, so an early lead could be the key to victory once more. … Charlie Haeger looks to do with his knuckleball what Steven Wright did on Friday night. He did not face the Red Wings in any of his 11 starts for the PawSox this season, but is familiar with some of their lineup having faced many of their batters while they were with the New Britain Rock Cats and Haeger was pitching for Portland earlier in the year. … Gary DiSarcina has shaken up the lineup once more as they ready to square up against Virgil Vasquez who picked up a loss in his only start against the PawSox way back on April 13th. Jonathan Diaz moves to the leadoff spot while Brad Holt bumps back down to the second slot. Diaz had batted near the bottom of the order in his prior three games this postseason while Holt has been everywhere from the leadoff spot to seventh in the lineup. It’s an obvious reach in an effort to replace Jackie Bradley Jr., their ideal leadoff hitter who looks to now be with the big club for the long haul, but DiSarcina will be looking to utilize that speed at the top of the order to set the table. … Of course with no Bradley once more, the outfield has been shifted around as well. Alex Hassan moves from left field to the DH slot, opening up a spot for Jeremy Hazelbaker to return to the outfield after DHing in the first two games. Justin Henry takes over in center after Shannon Wilkerson made his Triple-A debut their last night. Bryce Brentz remains in right. … Dan Butler will be back behind the dish for Haeger and Mark Hamilton takes over for Drew Sutton at first base. ... It was also just recently announced that Allen Webster has followed Bradley to the big club, leaving the PawSox without his services out of the bullpen. It is expected that Terry Doyle will take his spot on the roster and he will be needed after Pawtucket needed to use four relievers last night. … I think that Pawtucket will need the likes of Brentz and Hassan to really step up at the plate today as it should require quite a few runs to pull out a win today, especially with that PawSox bullpen on the depleted side. ... Unfortunately there will be no live blog today, but you can follow all the action via Gameday at MiLB or watch on MiLB.TV. You can also listen to the live call of the game from Jeff Levering on the PawSox radio broadcast, check here for your local station.

117_headerbat.gif
STARTING LINEUPS (with postseason batting average)

Rochester Red Wings
LF Antoan Richardson (.231)
2B James Beresford (.389)
SS Eduardo Escobar (.294)
1B Jeff Clement (.333)
DH Deibinson Romero (.444)
CF Aaron Hicks (.385)
RF Eric Farris (.357)
3B Ray Olmedo (.412)
C Eric Fryer (.231)

RHP Virgil Vasquez

Pawtucket Red Sox
3B Jonathan Diaz (.182)
2B Brad Holt (.235)
DH Alex Hassan (.133)
1B Mark Hamilton (.333)
RF Bryce Brentz (.250)
LF Jeremy Hazelbaker (.125)
C Dan Butler (.250)
CF Justin Henry (.250)
SS Heiker Meneses (.308)

RHP Charlie Haeger

Live blog: Rochester Red Wings at Pawtucket Red Sox, Game 4

Posted by Craig Forde September 7, 2013 05:26 PM

Game over: Rochester knocked the PawSox to the canvas in their six-run fifth inning in which they had 11 batters come to the plate. Thankfully for Pawtucket there is one more round to this fight, tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. The winner will go on to face the Durham Bulls who sit in wait after sweeping Indianapolis in their first round series. Pawtucket sends knuckleballer Charlie Haeger to the hill and Rochester counters with Virgil Vasquez.

Bottom 9th: It's a leadoff walk for Hassan. Hamliton picks up a free pass of his own. Brentz grounds into a 6-4-3 double play and the PawSox are down to their final out. Diaz bloops a single past the bare hand of second baseman Beresford and Hassan scores the PawSox first run. Vazquez squibs one back to the mound to end this one. Red Wings, 9-1

Top 9th: Romero with a leadoff double as Hassan attempts a diving catch on a sinking liner, but comes up short. Hicks draws a walk. Holt ranges into the outfield grass to collect a Farris flyout. A 3-6-1 double play off the bat of Olmedo ends the inning. Red Wings, 9-0

Bottom 8th: Meneses Ks to lead off. Holt grounds out to first. Sutton pops out in four territory, handled easily by Olmedo at third. Red Wings, 9-0

Top 8th: Fryer leads off with a ground out to second base. Richardson finds some grass in left for a single. Another ball finds another hole for the Red Wings as Beresford singles through the right side of the infield. DiSarcina yanks Villareal for Chris Carpenter. Escobar Ks. Clement grounds out to second to end the inning. Red Wings, 9-0

Bottom 7th: Diaz flies to right for the first out. Vazquez Ks swinging. Wilkerson with an ugly at-bat and K, Diamond's eighth. Red Wings, 9-0

Top 7th: We may go with the abridged blog moving forward here, unless something major occurs. Clement flies out to left. Romero walks. Hicks goes U3, moving Romero up to second. RBI single into center for Farris. Brian Villareal on to pitch for Pawtucket. Olmedo ends the innings with a 3-1 ground out. Red Wings, 9-0

Bottom 6th: Sutton jacks a sky high pop up towards the backstop, but Fryer makes a great catch in scurrying to track it down. Hassan slams his bat down in disgust after flying out to right for the second out. Mark Hamilton keeps the inning alive with a lined single into center. Brentz goes down on strikes to end the inning. Diamond has struck out six PawSox through six innings. Red Wings, 8-0

Top 6th: De La Torre back on for Pawtucket gets Richardson looking, despite Richardson thinking he has just drawn his third walk of the game. Diaz comes up with a strong throw from the third base line to retire Beresford for the second out. A strikeout of Escobar gives Pawtucket, and the fans, and the media, a much needed 1-2-3 inning. Red Wings, 8-0

Bottom 5th: Vazquez starts things off with a single back up the box, his second of the game. Wilkerson pops one to the grass behind second base for the first out. Diamond gets Meneses swinging for his fifth strikeout of the game. Holt's sinking liner to left is tracked well by Richardson for out number three. Red Wings, 8-0

Top 5th: Barnes has Olmedo swinging wildly on some 93-94 mph fastballs, but Olemdo wins the battle with an opposite field single into left. It's the third time that Rochester has put their leadoff man on. Barnes sizzles Fryers bat in half, but again the batter gets the better of the pitcher with a single to left. A wild pitch moves up both runners and a four-pitch walk to Richardson loads the bases as DiSarcina heads out to spell Barnes. Alex Wilson on to pitch for the PawSox, gets Beresford to bounce back to the mound, but misplays the ball and all runners are safe. Escobar goes to center field with a single as the Red Wings are going station-to-station here with no outs. Clement has seen enough of that action so he ropes a double to the wall in left, scoring two more and he pulls into second with his second double of the day. Romero gets in on the fun with a single through the hole in left scoring Escobar. Hicks breaks his bat off at the handle, but still manages to squeeze the ball between the line and Sutton at first for a double and yet another Red Wings run. The ninth batter of the inning, Farris, goes down looking for the first out. That's it for Wilson as DiSarcina brings Jose De La Torre on, to hopefully get 14 straight outs and move this game along. Just when it looked as it Olmedo was going to have his second single of the inning, Brock Holt snatches his liner for the second out. Diaz with a fantastic back-hand snatch of a rocket by Fryer leads to the last out of the inning. Mercy! Red Wings, 8-0

Bottom 4th: Hassan goes 5-3 for a leadoff out. A broken bat single for Hamilton gives the PawSox a runner for the fourth straight inning, but can they take advantage? Brentz quickly follows up with a single of his own, but Diaz grounds right to the third baseman who steps on the bag and fires to first, ending the inning with a double play. The PawSox are not getting the breaks tonight. Red Wings, 2-0

Top 4th: Clement lines one right down the first base line, just past the dive of Sutton and into the corner for a leadoff double. Romero founds the spot behind first base where no one can get to his blooper and he is on with a single, putting runners at the corners with no outs. Hicks blasts the first pitch he sees out to center, Wilkerson tracks it, but it's plenty deep enough to score the tagging Clement. Barnes and the PawSox escape with any further damage as Farris goes 6-4-3 on the inning ending double play. Red Wings, 2-0

Bottom 3rd: Heiker Meneses strokes a 1-0 pitch to center for a leadoff single. Holt grounds to second for the second time, taking down Meneses in the process on a crowd deflating double play. Sutton reaches again, this time with a seeing-eye single that dropped between three Red Wings in shallow right field. With the scoreboard showing 3-2, Sutton went with the pitch which bounced to the catcher and was really only the third ball of Hassan's at-bat. Sutton was gunned down at second base by a solid margin and was left staring up at the scoreboard. Red Wings, 1-0

Top 3rd: Richardson's bunt goes skyward to second base and is caught by Holt without issue. Beresford takes one out to left for the second out. Barnes blows away Escobar for the second time with a 96 mph fastball. A much more efficient inning by Barnes there, needing only ten pitches for the 1-2-3. Red Wings, 1-0

Bottom 2nd: Bryce Brentz grounds out to second on a 2-0 pitch to start the bottom half of the inning. Jonathan Diaz strikes out and is thrown out at first after the ball briefly got away from catcher Eric Fryer. Christian Vazquez fists a single opposite field for his second hit at the Triple-A level, both in the playoffs. Shannon Wilkerson swipes at a ball in the dirt, striking out to end the inning. Red Wings, 1-0

Top 2nd: Aaron Hicks shows bunt, but pulls back on Barnes first offering of the inning. Hicks them flies out to shallow right as Barnes continues with a steady diet of fastballs. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Eric Farris lines a single into right-center after a solid battle with Barnes. Ray Olmedo is handcuffed on an 0-2 pitch and bounces one a few feet in front of the plate, Barnes field on to first for the second out. Eric Fryer hits a laser shot to center field, but Shannon Wilkerson shows his range in coming in for the low liner, snatching it to end the inning. Barnes looks more dialed in now, but still needed 18 pitches to get by. Red Wings, 1-0

Bottom 1st: With JBJ back with the big club, Brock Holt assumes leadoff duties for Pawtucket, but grounds out to second. Drew Sutton reaches on throwing errors by shortstop Eduardo Escboar on a routine grounder. Alex Hassan takes a big cut at strike three and Mark Hamilton swings at one in the dirt for back-to-back, inning ending Ks. Red Wings, 1-0

Top 1st: Matt Barnes shows some heavy heat right off the bat, but walks Antoan Richardson on five pitches. Barnes ratchets the heat up to 96 mph in whiffing James Beresford for the first out. Richardson, who was on the go earlier but halted by a foul ball, steals second base with Christian Vazquez throw a little high. Barnes blows the very next pitch past Eduardo Escobar for the second out. Richardson moves up to the third on passed ball. Jeff Clement pokes a single into right field to plate Richardson as the Red Wings strike first. Deibinson Romero breaks his bat on a ground out to short that ends the inning. Barnes used up 23 pitches that inning, looked extremely powerful at points, looked nervous and a bit erratic as well. Red Wings, 1-0

Pregame: The PawSox will look to wrap up their best-of-five series against Rochester tonight at McCoy Stadium. The defending Governors' Cup Champions used an 11 hit attack on Friday to take a 2-1 series lead. If game five is needed, it will be played at McCoy on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ... The Durham Bulls made quick work of first round opponent Indianapolis. A 2-1 victory on Friday gave them the sweep and they will now enjoy a few extra days of rest before the Championship Series begins on Tuesday. ... Christian Vazquez, who caught games two for Pawtucket, will be back behind the dish again tonight. He has been behind the plate for 18 of Matt Barnes' 25 starts this season. Barnes will be making his second Triple-A start with hopes of carrying over the success of his seven strikeout, 5 1/3 scoreless inning debut against Syracuse on August 29th.... With the promotion of Jackie Bradley Jr., Shannon Wilkerson was activated and inserted into the lineup at center field tonight. The right-handed Wilkerson will bat seventh in the lineup and PawSox announcer Jeff Levering, by way of the Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson, points to the lefty-righty matchup presented by Red Wings starter Scott Diamond as the reason for Wilkerson getting the nod over lefty Jeremy Hazelbaker. It will be Wilkerson's Triple-A debut.

STARTING LINEUPS

Rochester Red Wings
LF Antoan Richardson
2B James Beresford
SS Eduardo Escobar
1B Jeff Clement
DH Deibinson Romero
CF Aaron Hicks
RF Eric Farris
3B Ray Olmedo
C Eric Fryer

LHP Scott Diamond

Pawtucket Red Sox
2B Brad Holt
1B Drew Sutton
LF Alex Hassan
DH Mark Hamilton
RF Bryce Brentz
2B Jonathan Diaz
C Christian Vazquez
CF Shannon Wilkerson
SS Heiker Meneses

RHP Matt Barnes

Live blog: Rochester Red Wings at Pawtucket Red Sox

Posted by Craig Forde September 6, 2013 06:05 PM

Game over: The PawSox move one win away from returning to the Governors' Cup final with the 5-1 win. They finished the night with 11 hits, led by Mark Hamilton's 2-for-2 effort that included a double, home run, two RBIs and two walks. Pawtucket hosts game four Saturday night at 6:05 p.m. Steven Wright earns the win on the heels of 6 1/3 scoreless innings. Ryan Rowland-Smith picks up the save.

Top 9th: Rowland-Smith dispatches Beresford via the strikeout, his third straight. Escobar takes a 2-2 pitch out to center, but Bradley had plenty of room and time to get under it. With a 1-2 count, Parmelee works things back in his favor as he draws the walk. Rowland-Smith expresses his displeasure with some of the calls on that sequence. Parmelee takes second on a defense indifference, but the game ends on the next pitch when Clement pops up to Holt at second base. PawSox, 5-1

Bottom 8th: Parmelee tracks down a Butler pop up in foul territory, snatching it right before it goes over the wall past the stands down the right-side line. Holt gets his second single of the day through the right-side hole. Advances to second on a wild pitch from May. Diaz Ks. Meneses drops a single in front of Hicks, bringing Holt around for the fifth Sox run of the night. Bradley, first pitch swinging, pokes a single through the right-side. The inning ends on a Sutton ground out to first base. Rochester coming down to their final chances. PawSox, 5-1

Top 8th: Clement becomes Beato's third straight strikeout victim. Hicks smacks a single just past the reach of Diaz at third. That's the second hit of the night for Hicks who doubles in the second. Beato rears back for that extra something and finds 95 mph, but unfortunately it's for ball four to Farris. Pitching coach Rich Sauveur comes out for a very brief talk. Ryan Rowland-Smith begins to throw in the PawSox bullpen. Olmedo singles into right, scoring Hicks from second, breaking the shutout. Brian Dinkelman comes on to pinch hit for Fryer and that gets DiSarcina up to pull the plug on Beato's night. Rowland-Smith comes on for the lefty-on-lefty matchup. Rochester goes to the bench again and Deibinson Romero will now be the batter as Dinkelman takes a seat. Rowland-Smith with the big strike out of Fryer and another of leadoff man Mitchell, ending the Red Wings rally. PawSox, 4-1

Bottom 7th: Sutton flies out to left and Hassan does the same for a quick two outs. May gives up just the second Red Wings walk of the night, both coming to Hamilton. Brentz does down on strikes to end the inning. PawSox, 4-0

Top 7th: Wright back on for Pawtucket as Beato gets back up in the bullpen. Fryer goes 5-3 to start things off with an out. Mitchell picks up his first hit of the game, a single into right field. Rochester has a hit in all but the first inning and that will bring an end to Wright's night, but not before the 4,681 on hand give him a rousing ovation for his efforts. Very solid effort by Wright tonight, saving the bullpen in the process. Pedro Beato on to pitch for Pawtucket. Beresford takes Beato's first offering down the line for a bunt single. Beato blows a 93 mph heater by Escobar for the second out. Then goes down a tic to 92 mph to K Parmelee and end the threat. PawSox, 4-0

Bottom 6th: Trevor May, the No. 7 ranked prospect in the Twins system, relieves Dean who allowed eight hits and four runs (three earned) in five innings. Butler sends Hicks all the way back to the wall in center, but is retired on a fly out. May records his first strikeout of the game on Holt. Diaz hits a routine grounder that looks to end the inning, but Olmedo boots it and Diaz reaches with two outs. Another routine grounder, this time to second base, is booted and Meneses makes it to first. A third straight infield grounder finally ends the inning as Bradley goes 6-3 to halt the error-laden rally. PawSox, 4-0

Top 6th: Wright back out for Pawtucket. Parmelee avoids his third K of the night, working the count full before walking. Clement's towering fly is handled by Diaz at third. Wright dismisses Hicks on strikes, his fourth K of the game. On a 2-2 count Farris takes one right back up the middle for a two-out single. Pedro Beato begins to warm in the Pawtucket pen. A wild pitch pushes runners to second and third. Wright gets out of the game with a strikeout of Olmedo. PawSox, 4-0

Bottom 5th: Bradley grounds out to second base for the third time tonight (one being a fielder's choice). Mitchell made a valiant effort on a fly ball in foul territory off the bat of Sutton. At full speed the right fielder slammed into the wall chest first as he was getting to the ball. He could not hold on, but bounced right back to his feet. Sutton punches a single to left, his second of the day. Hassan becomes Dean's first strikeout victim of the night. But Hamilton follows with a two-out, two-run homer to right field. Hamilton (2-for-2, double, HR, walk) took the first for a long ride. Brentz ends the inning on a fly out to right-center. PawSox, 4-0

Top 5th: Wright gets Fryer to ground out to second to start the inning. Mitchell skies one to the back of the infield and Meneses gets under it for the second out. Beresford finds the whole between first and second for a single that extends the inning. Escobar grounds one into the hole at short, but Diaz makes a nice throw on the play and Sutton another nice scoop at first to end the inning. Wright has allowed four hits and three walks, but no runs through five. PawSox, 2-0

Bottom 4th: Holt ground back to Dean for the first out. Diaz takes the first pitch he sees out to right for out number two. Meneses takes a 2-0 offering to center, ending the inning. It's the first 1-2-3 frame for the Red Wings. PawSox, 2-0

Top 4th: Wright works his third K of the inning, the second on Parmelee. Clement draws a walk, the third in the last two innings by Wright. Hicks pushes Brentz back to the right field warning track for out number two. Farris, who has been busy in left field all night, grounds one right on the line to third base, but Diaz has no play and it goes for a single. The inning ends on an Olmedo ground out to second. PawSox, 2-0

Bottom 3rd: Hassan grounds out to second base to start the inning. One pitch after hooking a 375 foot foul ball into the soccer field next door, Hamilton goes down the line in right for a double, the first PawSox extra base hit of the night. Brentz moves Hamilton up on an opposite field sac-fly to right. Butler follows with a shot out to left-center that Farris makes a spectacular diving catch on to save a run. Farris showed solid speed and range in extending to get that one. PawSox, 2-0

Top 3rd: Ray Olmedo just sneaks a hit in down the left field line, slicing it enough to earn him a leadoff double, the Wings second of the night. Eric Fryer draws a walk as the last two batters in Rochester's order reach to start the inning. Mitchell drops a bunt right in front of home plate, Wright plays it over to first and the runners advance a base. Beresford draws the second walk of the inning to load the bases with one out and Wright seems to be stumbling a bit here. And just like that Wright gets out of the jam on a 3-6-1 double play. PawSox, 2-0

Bottom 2nd: Dan Butler leads off with a hard grounder to short on a 1-1 count. Red Wings SS Eduardo Escobar throws wildly to first and Butler finds himself on second with no outs. Steady Brock Holt drops an opposite field single in front of left fielder Eric Farris and Butler scores with ease. Jonathan Diaz goes back up the box for the third straight PawSox single. Heiker Meneses breaks up that string with a text book push bunt down the first base line, pushing up Holt and Diaz. Bradley grounds to second in his second at-bat, but it was deep enough to score Holt from third and move up Diaz with two outs. Sutton gets a hold of a Dean fastball, but Farris gets to in front of the warning track. Early damage has been done though, as Pawtucket has punched out five singles thus far and own a two-run lead after two. PawSox, 2-0

Top 2nd: Wright uses four pitches to strike out Chris Parmelee to start the inning. Jeff Clement grounds out to Drew Sutton at first. On a 1-1 pitch Aaron Hicks gets a solid piece of it, sending it down to the wall in front of the PawSox bullpen in left for a double. With an 0-2 count on Eric Farris, Hicks steals third uncontested. On the next pitch Farris grounds one to Heiker Meneses at short and on a hurried throw, Sutton pulls off a run-saving backhand scoop out of the dirt to end the inning. No score

Bottom 1st: Jackie Bradley Jr. grounds out to second base to lead things off for the PawSox bats. Drew Sutton drills a single into center after an eight pitch at-bat. Alex Hassan laces an 0-1 pitch into left for the second straight PawSox single. Mark Hamilton draws a walk after working the count full, packing the sacks for Pawtucket with just one out. The rally is instantly squashed when Bryce Brentz hits an easy bounced back to Pat Dean who goes home for one and catcher-to-first completed the double play and ends the inning. No score

Top 1st: Steven Wright starts things off with a 77 mph knuckler for a strike, then gets Jermaine Mitchell to lift the next pitch to shallow left field for the game's first out. James Beresford follows with a line-out to short on a 1-1 pitch. After running the count full Eduardo Escobar goes down swinging. It's a 1-2-3 first for Wright who threw 11 pitches/7 for strikes and looks to have decent command of his knuckleball thus far. No score

McCoy 9613.jpgPregame: The shadows have crept across McCoy Stadium, pushing the last touches of sunshine out into the visitor's bullpen in right field. Game time temperature will be right around 60 degrees, but should dip considerably now that the sun is down for the night. Prior to the game Steven Wright asked myself and Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times if it was expected to be cold tonight. He was not happy with the answer we gave him. We'll keep an eye on how the knuckleball may be affected by all of this.

Pregame preview: PawSox vs. Rochester, Game 3

Posted by Craig Forde September 6, 2013 05:46 PM

So far it has been first team to seven runs wins in the best-of-five first round matchup between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. With the first two games on their home turf, Rochester took game one, 7-1, but feel last night, 7-2, as the PawSox squared the series at a game apiece.

The series now shifts to Pawtucket, with game three’s first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Knuckleballer Steven Wright gets the starting nod for the home team tonight and will be opposed by Boston College product Pat Dean. We will have a live, running blog of tonight's action, so please check back and feel free to leave comments as the PawSox look to defend their Governors' Cup title.

GAME NOTES: Matt Barnes was announced as the Saturday’s game four start for Pawtucket. He will be opposed by Rochester’s Scott Diamond who went 4-0 in six starts for the Red Wings. Barnes had a solid Triple-A debut versus Syracuse, striking out seven over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. “He pitched really well. Very similar to Ranaudo, very similar to Workman. Very aggressive, focused, threw strikes and he pitched a big game for us. He deserves [the start],” said PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina. “It’s a good experience for him.” … The team arrived back to the region at 5:30 a.m. following Thursday night’s win. “It was a little early,” said DiSarcina. “We’ve had 24, 25 games in a row where they are sort of like playoff games, so a lot of intense games. It’s good to make sure they get some rest.” … After 21 starts for Pawtucket this season, Allen Webster made his first relief appearance in the series opener, throwing one scoreless inning. It is a role that DiSarcina plans to keep him in through the duration of the playoffs. “He’s throwing strikes inside to right handed hitters,” said DiSarcina. “He looked comfortable, he looked confident and he threw strikes.” … As noted by the Rochester Red Wings, in the last eight seasons, 13 of 16 teams have gone on to win their first round series after winning game one. Pawtucket won the first game of their first round series versus Scranton/Wilkes-Barres last season and went on to sweep. In 2011 they lost their first round opener versus Lehigh Valley and were swept.

STARTING LINEUPS

Rochester Red Wings
RF Jermaine Mitchell
2B James Beresford
SS Eduardo Escobar
1B Chris Parmelee
DH Jeff Clement
CF Aaron Hicks
LF Eric Farris
3B Ray Olmedo
C Eric Fryer

LHP Pat Dean

Pawtucket Red Sox
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
1B Drew Sutton
LF Alex Hassan
DH Mark Hamilton
RF Bryce Brentz
C Dan Butler
2B Brock Holt
3B Jonathan Diaz
SS Heiker Meneses

RHP Steven Wright

Buchholz solid in final rehab start as PawSox even series

Posted by Craig Forde September 5, 2013 11:17 PM

After suffering a 7-1 loss in game one of their best-of-five series with the Rochester Red Wings on Wednesday night, the PawSox bounced back for a 7-2 victory Thursday, taking a 1-1 series back to McCoy Stadium for the weekend.

We had a man on the scene, Mr. Chris Fee, who was kind enough to send over a first-hand account of the rehab start by Clay Buchholz, which should be his last before he finally rejoins the Red Sox. With many thanks to Chris, we give you his rundown, along with a tight shot of Clay and his American flag shorts post game and a video of his post game
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By Chris Fee

Clay Buchholz was making what was expected to be his final start for the Pawtucket Red Sox tonight in the first round of the Governor’s Cup Playoffs against the Rochester Red Wings.

There were talks before the game that Clay would be on a 70-pitch limit coming into his start tonight and through the first three innings he would make the most of it.

In the first Buchholz struck out two batters, allowing just one hit to reigning International League Player of the Week Eduardo Escobar, but otherwise getting out of the inning unscathed.

In the second inning he allowed a hit and a walk, but once again was able to get out of the inning with a strikeout. All three of the completed innings that Buchholz pitched he finished off with a strikeout.

Clay BuchholzPawSox.jpg“Curveball in my hand felt really good today, first pitch strikes and was getting 0-1, 0-2 counts. The pitch that I really need to have in my back pocket is the two seam fastball on both sides of the plate,” said Buchholz about how his pitch location was tonight.

The fourth inning, which would be the last for Buchholz, would be where he struggled the most following a long delay in the top of the inning in which the PawSox scored three runs, allowing some rust to build up for him.

After allowing a leadoff walk, Deibinson Romero hit a double deep to left-center field scoring Chris Parmelee. Then after retiring Aaron Hicks and Eric Farris, he allowed an RBI single to Ray Olmedo, which at 71 pitches would be the last hitter he would face tonight.

“I’m trying to get better and get back with the club,” said Buchholz after the game.

When he was asked if he was ready to go on Tuesday, he responded by saying “Absolutely.”

Overall Clay Buchholz pitched three and two-thirds innings, giving up four hits, two runs (both earned), two walks and five strikeouts on 71 pitches, 52 for strikes.

It appeared to me, and the crowd of 4,553 that he is ready to rejoin the Red Sox rotation and help them make a playoff push down the stretch.

Pawtucket went on to win the game 7-2, splitting the first two games in Rochester before heading back to McCoy Stadium with game set for Friday and Saturday, with Sunday in wait if the series goes the distance.

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Chris Fee writes for Twins Daily and the former Bus Leagues Baseball (an On Deck all-time favorite), among others. Check out his work here, follow him on Twitter @CJFee and email him at christopherjfee@gmail.com.

Again, our endless thanks to Chris for lending a hand and we will be live blogging Game 3 from McCoy tomorrow night, so please check back for more as the PawSox continue their defense of the Governors' Cup.

With baseball in his blood, Littrell's success starts with winning

Posted by Craig Forde September 4, 2013 03:35 PM

Success in baseball has always been a part of Corey Littrell’s makeup.Littrell.jpg

It’s in his blood lines and the Red Sox 2013 fifth-round pick is determined to climb up the ladder to get to his ultimate goal of becoming a major leaguer, like his grandfather Jack.

Yet as a competitor, Littrell wants to win first-and-foremost and he has been granted just that in his first run as a pro with the Lowell Spinners, who have challenged for a playoff spot up to the final day of the season.

“The Cape [Cod League] was all about the draft and everyone was talking about the draft,” said Littrell, who played for the Harwich Mariners last summer. “It wasn’t like a win or lose thing, it was kind of like everyone was playing for themselves. You still wanted to win, and coaches got mad if you lost, but it didn’t have that [winning] feeling.”

Now the Lowell Spinners look to Littrell's stubborn, winning attitude as they try to close out their season on the right foot in Aberdeen.

“I like winning,” said Littrell. “It kind of eats me even, if I’m not pitching and you don’t win. It’s not the end of the world but you don’t like it. There is a bitter taste in your mouth.”

The University of Kentucky product has not worked long enough in any of his ten starts to qualify for his first pro win, so his 0-3 mark may not reflect his mental makeup, but he has more than carried his load for Lowell.

In 26 2/3 innings the lefty from Louisville has a 2.03 ERA, struck out 25 batters and has held right-handed hitters to a scant .206 batting average.

“It’s been a blast,” said Littrell of his debut in professional baseball. “I talked to [former Atlanta Braves pitcher and family friend] Kent Merker probably two hours before I left [to come to Lowell] and he was telling me, “You’re going to have the best time of your life. These next six weeks are going to be the best six weeks of your life.” It’s fun not having to worry about anything but baseball.”

As a senior at Louisville's Trinity High School, Littrell was named Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year and was ranked as the best prospect in the state while at

He added to his lure in three successful seasons with the University of Kentucky Wildcats where he compiled a 21-13 record, striking out 215 batters over 261 2/3 innings, against some of the best college talent in the nation in the SEC.

Now he is getting a chance to get reacquainted with some of his SEC friends and foes alike in the New York-Penn League, helping Littrell adjust with more comfort.

“There are SEC players all over the place,” said Littrell. “It’s fun because you know you have that connection, something to talk about off the field or during BP or something. Especially me being a pitcher with the hitters, you kind of know what to expect. You know their weakness, their strengths, so pitching against SEC players I have a feel for how to pitch and what not to throw them.”

That level of comfort was something that Littrell was unsure of when he first walked into the Spinners clubhouse after being drafted in June.

“I was a little nervous going somewhere new, you don’t know anyone or how you’re going to fit in, but everyone was open with welcoming arms,” said Littrell. “The guys are great.”

Now he is driven to follow in his grandfather and father’s footsteps.

His grandfather reached “The Show” in 1952 as an infielder with the Philadelphia Athletics and appeared in 111 games over four seasons in the big leagues.

Corey’s father Jack, an 11th round selection by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977 out of Oldham County (Kentucky) High School, played four seasons in the minors.

“I’ve wanted to do this my whole life,” said Corey. “Now that I get to it’s all about putting all my effort into this. I want to make this my career and hopefully I never have to work after this, after I play baseball.”

Chosen by the Red Sox with the 143rd overall selection just three months ago, Littrell has been an important part of a Spinners staff that has a 2.92 ERA (third best in the NYPL) and a 1.16 WHIP (second in the league).

In the process he has gotten the opportunity to begin his career with a historic franchise that he learned a lot about while playing in the Cape last summer, likening the rabid fan base to that of the University of Kentucky.

“When I got drafted by the Red Sox it was awesome,” said Littrell. “Last year, playing in the Cape, my host family had season tickets to the Red Sox and it is Red Sox everywhere. It’s like how Kentucky is with Big Blue Nation. There are Kentucky fans everywhere and so I loved that feeling about it. They always support you.

“Once I saw my name on the board, I couldn’t ask for more. [The Red Sox] know how to develop their pitchers. They’re going to take their time, make sure you’re where you need to be and doing what you need to do before you get thrown into the fire.”

So while the fire is just getting stoked for the 21-year-old, he and his Spinners mates will hope to keep the flames fanned for a little bit longer, thanks to that winning mentality.

“You’re playing a kids game and getting paid for it, you couldn’t ask for much more,” said Littrell poignantly putting it all in perspective.

He will get the start in tonight's regular season finale for the Lowell Spinners who need a win and a Jamestown Jammers loss to secure the Wild Card spot and continue on with their season.

There is little doubt that Littrell will be up to the task.

Live blog: Lowell Spinners vs. Tri-City ValleyCats

Posted by Craig Forde September 1, 2013 04:36 PM

Game over: The Tri-City ValleyCats (42-31) leave Lowell holding a half game lead in the Stedler Division with both teams having three games to play. As fat would have it, both will face off against the two teams vying for the McNamara Division title. Lowell (40-30) will finish their season in Aberdeen, owner of a game and half lead and Tri-City heads back home to wrap their regular season against the second place Brooklyn Cyclones.

Bottom 9th: Nathan Minnich with a solid single into center field to get the crowd back into this game. Minnich pulls into second on a passed ball, as Lin draws a full count. Lin draws the walk, giving Lowell two on with no outs. Moore (0-for-4) goes down on strikes for the third time tonight. Jose Colorado comes on to pinch-hit for Jerez and gets yoked on a nasty hook from Sanudo for the second out of the inning. Sanudo busts out the hook again and pulls Asuaje down for strike three and the win. ValleyCats, 7-4

Top 9th: Booth Ks to start the inning. Kemmer singles, the 12th hit of the night for Tri-City. Rodriguez picks up the golden sombrero with his fourth K of the night. Moon follows Kemmer's steal of second with a walk. Grover gets Ramsey swinging for the third K of the inning. Spinners will need a miracle in their final at-bat to avoid being dropped back into second place. ValleyCats, 7-4

Bottom 8th: Gonzalo Sanudo on to pitch for Tri-City and he gets Margot to pop one up to second base for the tenth straight Spinners out. Mager gets rung up on a ball in the dirt. He started for first thinking it was a walk and was not pleased with the call for out two. Bethea ends the inning on the next pitch with a ground out to second. ValleyCats, 7-4

Top 8th: Rodriguez goes down on strikes. Moon, an NYPL All-Star, is having a game. Improved to 3-for-4 with a double down the left field line. Ramsey draws a free pass, giving Tri-City runners on first and second with one out. They move up on a wild pitch, causing Aro to serve up the IBB to Dineen and Crabbe to make another pitching change. Taylor Grover on for his 14th appearance of the season. White hits a sharp grounder to third that Moore boots, bringing in another ValleyCat run. Gregor's liner to Margot brings in Ramsey as Tri-City continues to pad their lead. The bleeding ends on a Mitchell pop-out to Lin at short. ValleyCats, 7-4

Bottom 7th: Jerez with a lazy swing on strike three to start the inning. On a 1-0 count Asuaje breaks his bat on a ground-out to third base. Romanski goes down on strikes for the second 1-2-3 inning for Tri-City. Feliz, who has gotten stronger as the game has gone on, has retired nine straight and had struck out ten. ValleyCats, 5-4

Top 7th: Dineen with a long fly to center, one pitch, one out for Aro and the Spinners. White laces a one-out single into left. Gregor ropes a double into the right-center gap, but White does not have enough in the tank to score from first. Mitchell's grounder in the hole at second, coupled with a hesitation by Asuaje, brings in the go-ahead run and puts Mitchell at first with Gregor at third. The Spinners get away with one as Booth's squeeze bunt in front of home plate looked to plate Gregor, but the Aro-to-Bethea transfer was called an out at the plate. Kemmer ends the inning with a bloop handled by Lin behind the mound. ValleyCats, 5-4

Bottom 6th: Minnich takes one for a ride to leadoff the inning, but Mitchell tracks it for the first out. Lin Ks for the second out. Moore grounds to first for the 1-2-3. Game tied, 4-4

Top 6th: Aro gets Rodriguez looking to start the frame. Moon (2-for-3) makes his first out of the game, flying out to Mager in left. Ramsey contributes to a 1-2-3 inning with a 1-0 flyout to center. Game tied, 4-4

Bottom 5th: Jake Romanski gets on to start the inning, catching Feliz off guard on a come-backer. Romanski advances on a slow roller where Margot was out at first. Mager goes down on strikes for the second time tonight. Bethea then takes some back cuts at some bad pitches and also goes down swinging. That's strikeout number seven for Feliz. Game tied, 4-4

Top 5th: For the third straight batter of the game, it's a one pitch out as White grounds to third. Gregor walks and Mitchell singles on the next pitch to put two ValleyCats on with one out. Aro gets Booth on a check-swing strikeout and Kemmer on chopper to short, getting out of the jam unscathed. Game tied, 4-4

Bottom 4th: Nick Moore swings at high-heat, striking out to lead off the inning. Jerez with a weak pop to short makes it out number two and Asuaje grounds to second in back-to-back first pitch outs, aiding Feliz as he gains traction. Game tied, 4-4

Top 4th: Callahan back on track as he uses a deadly curve to buckle Jon Kemmer. He is not shying away from his breaking ball right now, tossing a steady diet of them to Tri-City, and he seems to be getting stronger with the pitch as he goes on. He sets up Rodriguez with his curve as well, then fires a 91-mph fastball past him for the second out. After working the count full, Chan Moon strokes one off the right field wall for a long, two-out single. Manager Bruce Crabbe comes out to pull the plug on Callahan as Jonathan Aro comes on for Lowell. With Moon on the move, Ramsey does his part in the hit-and-run, smacking to where Asuaje would have been had he not been moving to cover second base, Moon moves to third. Dineen grounds to third as Minnich gets low to scoop the throw and end the threat. Game tied, 4-4

Bottom 3rd: Danny Bethea lifts on out towards the Spinners bullpen in right, but Ronnie Mitchell makes a spectacular play, diving in foul territory for the first out. Minnich grounds out innocently to second base. Lin hits a slow grounder to second, creating a bang-bang play at first. It's Feliz and the ValleyCats first 1-2-3 inning of the game. Game tied, 4-4

Top 3rd: Callahan gives up a lead off walk to Jon Kemmer. Jake Rodriguez follows up with a single through the left side for the first ValleyCats hit of the night. Chan Moon uses his speed to bunt his way on, loading the bases with no outs. Cats getting to Callahan now as Ramsey punches one to left to put them on the board. Dineen skies one to center, Margot eases under it for the first out, but another run crosses the plate for Tri-City. A walk to White reloads the bases for the ValleyCats with one out and Lowell pitching coach Walter Miranda comes out to calm Callahan. Gregor rips a bullet that is just out of reach of Nathan Minnich's leap at first and two more runs score, tying the game at four. Callahan has really hit a wall here as Jonathan Aro begins to warm up in the pen. Mitchell goes down on strikes Callahan has had mixed results in trying to work his breaking ball, but was solid with two of them to Brett Booth before K'ing him. Damage done. Game tied, 4-4

Bottom 2nd: Asuaje pulls the leadoff walk for Lowell as Feliz is struggling a bit with his command. Romanski swings through strike three for the first out. Margot does the same on an 80-mph changeup. Asuaje steals second and moves to third on a wild pitch. Mager goes down with a wild swing an a 79-mph off speed offering. So Feliz seems to have now found his control and gets the ValleyCats out unscathed. Spinners, 4-0

Top 2nd: Callahan gets Congrad Gregor to ground out, 4-3, for the first out. One the very next pitch, Ronnie Mitchell pops-out to first. Brett Booth lines out to Mager, the third out to come his way in left field, and Callahan gets out of the inning having to use up only 9 pitches. Spinners, 4-0

Bottom 1st: Tri-City starter, 19-year-old Michael Feliz enters the game with a league best 1.60 ERA. He has 68 Ks in 62 innings. Spinners leadoff hitter Carlos Asuaje grounds out to first. On an 0-1 pitch, catcher Jake Romanski was grazed by a Feliz offering and the Spinners get the first base runner of the game. Manuel Margot rips a 94-mph heater for a single through the left-side of the infield, giving the Spinners runners at first and second with one out. Kevin Mager takes the second pitch he sees back up the box, it takes a friendly hop over the second baseman's glove, allowing Romanski to score and Margot to advance to third as Lowell takes an early, 1-0, lead. Danny Bethea earns the intentional walk to load the bases with no outs. Nathan Minnich follows with a first pitch bouncer over the third baseman, plating Margot and Mager, and the Spinners are off and running to start this one. The whole Spinners team is hanging over the railing of the dugout, feeling the intensity of this one. Tzu-Wei Lin with a hard grounder to short, bounces over Chan Moon's glove and Bethea scores to make is a 4-0 Lowell lead. Nick Moore cannot heed the crowds chants of "we want more", as he goes down swinging for out number two. Williams Jerez signifies the Spinners have batted through here in their first at-bats, but he grounds out harmlessly to first. Feliz tops out at 95 miles per hour with his fastball, but the Spinners are not impressed as they inflect heavy damaged in the first. Spinners, 4-0

Top 1st: Lowell's Jamie Callahan, two-time New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week, makes his third start of the season versus the ValleyCats. He is 1-1 with a 6.43 ERA against Tri-City. Callahan gets James Ramsey to lift a 1-1 pitch to left for out number one. After running the count full versus Ryan Dineen, Callahan induces another pop-fly to Kevin Mager in left. Tyler White goes down on a 91mph high-heater for the third out. 14 pitches in that inning for the Red Sox 2012 second-rounder. No score.

Preview: The most untimely four-game losing streak for the Spinners in late August has completely been erased as they have won five straight games to not only put themselves back in the playoff race, but in the driver’s seat with four games to play. Now, with a half-game lead in the Stedler Division over the visiting Tri-City ValleyCats, Lowell will look to increase that lead in the standings before heading off to Aberdeen for their final three games of the season. Tri-City, the defending Stedler Division champs, hold a 5-4 lead in the season series.

Tonight’s regular season finale at LeLacheur Park is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. and there is nothing but blue skies and sunshine soaking the field right now. It’s the biggest home game for the Spinners since their last playoff run in 2009 and we will be here to live blog it for you, so please check back for updates and feel free to comment throughout.

Starting lineups:

Tri-City ValleyCats
CF James Ramsey
2B Ryan Dineen
3B Tyler White
1B Conrad Gregor
RF Ronnie Mitchell
DH Brett Booth
LF Jon Kemmer
C Jake Rodriguez
SS Chan Moon

RHP Michael Feliz (3-2, 1.60 ERA)

Lowell Spinners
2B Carlos Asuaje
DH Jake Romanski
CF Manuel Margot
LF Kevin Mager
C Danny Bethea
1B Nathan Minnich
SS Tzu-Wei Lin
2B Nick Moore
RF Williams Jerez

RHP Jamie Callahan (5-1, 3.54)

About the author

Craig Forde covers baseball talent as it develops into the next big thing. He has covered high school and college sports for the Boston Globe, and the minor league teams More »

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