JULY 15th BUFFALO (49-45) at PAWTUCKET (51-44) 1:05 pm
Buffalo Bisons RHP Colin McHugh (1-2, 4.56) vs. Pawtucket Red Sox RHP Brandon Duckworth (8-2, 3.45)
Sweep Apnea – The Pawtucket Red Sox hope to avert a 4-game sweep at the hands of the Buffalo Bisons when they play the finale of their 4-game set today at 1:05 pm at McCoy Stadium. The PawSox have given up 8 runs in each of the first three games of the series suffering 8-5, 8-2, and 8-2 defeats the past three nights. Pawtucket will be trying to avoid payback from the Bisons today as the Sox swept a 4-game set in Buffalo just over a month ago (June 14-17) and this afternoon Buffalo can accomplish that same feat here at McCoy. The PawSox were swept in back-to-back series at Syracuse and home vs.Louisville from June 18-25. The sweep by Louisville here at McCoy from June 22-25 wasPawtucket’s first 4-game sweep suffered at McCoy in almost seven years (since July 2-5 of the 2005 season vs.Charlotte).
Always a Battle vs. Buffalo - The all-time series between Pawtucket and Buffalo has gone back and forth of late and now it is Buffalo with a 2-game advantage – 118 victories to 116. These two rivals have battled for 14½ years now since the Bisons returned to the IL in 1998. The PawSox are 62-55 at McCoy vs. the Bisons but 54-63 in Buffalo since ’98. After today these teams will meet again for a 2-game set in Buffalo on August 12 & 13 and then later that week play another 2-game series featuring the Future’s Game at Fenway Park on August 18 and a game at McCoy the next day in the final meeting between the clubs this season.
This Series and Homestand - Starting this past Thursday night the PawSox are playing their final 52 games of the regular-season in 54 days through Labor Day September 3. This 4-game series against Buffalo concludes this afternoon at 1:05 pm. The 8-game home stand (0-3 thus far) will continue tomorrow with a 4-game series against the Syracuse Chiefs (the first three games on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday all at 7:05 pm with the series and home stand finale on Thursday at 12:05 pm).
Wild One No More – The PawSox remained -2½ GB of the 1st-place Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, butPawtucket’s lead in the IL wild card is no longer as they now trail Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by a ½-game in the wild card race. Buffalo (winners of 7 in a row – the longest current winning streak in the IL) is next in the wild card chase and only –2 GB while Norfolk is -2½ GB
Familiar Foes –Pawtucket is playing exclusively against their IL North rivals for the remainder of their home schedule (June 29 vs.Charlotte was their last home game of the year vs. a team from outside the North). Their 27-20 record within the IL North is no longer the best any team in the league has inside their own division. The Sox do have road trips outside the division as they go to Louisville and Indianapolis of the IL West from July 20-27 and to Charlotte and Gwinnett of the IL South from August 23-30.
Three Down – The PawSox have presently lost three straight for the first time since their 9-game losing streak from June 18-26. Pawtucket won two in a row last weekend vs.Syracuse before the break, but they have lost all three games following the break. Their modest 2-game winning on July 7 & 8 marked the first time in exactly three weeks that they won back-to-back games (since a 5-game winning streak from June 12-17).
Series Setback – The PawSox have already lost this series to Buffalo no matter the outcome today so they have dropped a series for the 6th time in their last 7 tries.
Buffalo Was Beautiful – The PawSox rolled into Buffalo about one month ago and left on June 17 riding high after a 4-game sweep of the Bisons put them a season-high 20-games over .500 (45-25) and with a season-high 5-game lead atop the division. Since that point, however, the PawSox are 6-19 and have lost 7½-games in the standings. Pawtucket is now 6-5 vs. the Bisons this season (5-1 in Buffalo but 1-4 here in Pawtucket).
Stats vs. Bisons – The PawSox are hitting .276 in the 11 games vs.Buffalo thus far (108-for-391) with 8 HR. Sox pitchers are 6-5 with a 4.08 ERA vs. the Bisons (45 ER in 99.1 IP) with 13 HRA. Pawtucket has out-scored Buffalo, 59-53.
Trying to Turn the Beat Around – The PawSox have lost 19 of their last 25 games since June 18 and have gone from 1st-place and 5-games up in the IL North on June 17 (equaling their largest lead of the season) to 3rd-place and 2½-games behind 1st-place Lehigh Valley as a result of this tailspin. Their 3-game deficit (on July 3, 5, and 6) equaled the furthest they had been out of 1st-place all season (also -3 GB on April 15 & 16). They had been in either 1st-place or 2nd-place every day since April 13 until now (after being temporarily tied for 3rd on April 12). The Sox trail 2nd-place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by a ½-game for the IL wild card. Pawtucket had been alone atop the division from May 5 – June 25.
When the Going Gets Tough – The PawSox had a 9-game losing streak (the third longest in club-history) from June 18-26 which was preceded by a 5-game winning streak (from June 18-26). They have now lost 19 of their last 25 overall – including 8 of 10 on the road and 11 of their last 15 home games.
Crunching the Numbers – Since June 18, PawSox pitchers are 6-19 with a 4.15 ERA (104 ER in 225.2 IP) while the Sox are hitting .256 (222-for-867) with 19 HR. As a result, Pawtucket’s Team ERA has gone from 3.49 on June 17 to 3.67 (it was a season-high 3.68 on June 26) while the Team Batting Average has gone from .275 to .270 (it was .269 on July 2 & 3 – their lowest since May 31 at .267). Pawtucket has been out-scored during their last 25 games by a 123-89 margin