AUGUST 3rd LEHIGH VALLEY (62-52) at PAWTUCKET (62-51) 7:05 pm
Lehigh Valley IronPigs RHP B.J. Rosenberg (4-2, 2.00)
Pawtucket Red Sox RHP Billy Buckner (3-5, 4.95)
Change of Scenery – The (tied for) 1st-place Pawtucket Red Sox (with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees) and the 3rd-place Lehigh Valley IronPigs – who are all separated by just a ½-game in the IL North Standings – continue what amounts to a 6-game home and home series with the opener of a 4-game wrap-around weekend series tonight at 7:05 pm at McCoy Stadium. The PawSox – who were swept in a 2-game set at Lehigh Valley the past two nights (by scores of 3-2 in 10-innings and 2-1) to begin this important stretch – while now face the IronPigs here at home tonight, tomorrow at 6:05 pm, Sunday at 1:05 pm, and Monday at 7:05 pm. That will conclude the season-series between the clubs unless they meet for the second straight year in the IL Playoffs. Last year the PawSox finished in 1st-place (2-games ahead of LehighValley) but were then swept in 3 straight by the Pigs in the IL semi-final playoffs.
The Amazing Race – Pawtucket’s defeats the past two nights in Lehigh Valley have tightened things considerably in the division as the Sox have been in a virtual tie with Scranton/WB for 1st-place for the past two days (the Yanks have a .550 to .549 pct. lead) while the IronPigs have pulled to within just a half game of the lead. All three teams are also the top contenders for a playoff spot as one would win the division (Scranton/WB), another would be the wild card (Pawtucket), and one would be just left out (Lehigh Valley) if the season were to end today. That could all change tonight obviously. For the past two and a half weeks (since July 17) the PawSox have been either +½-game or –½-game in the division with the exception of yesterday and today (tied for 1st). Furthermore, after 9 of their last 13 games they have either moved into 1st-place or fallen to 2nd-place as a result of that game.
Not Much of a Difference a Year Makes – Pawtucket is one game off their pace from last season after 113 games as they had a 63-50 record last year compared to 62-51 this season. Last August 6 the Sox did improve to 64-50 but they were in 2nd-place and –½ GB at the time. The PawSox went 17-12 last August (and 4-0 last September) and moved into a tie for 1st-place last August 7. They remained either tied for 1st or alone in 1st for all but one day the remainder of the season (2nd-place, -1 GB on August 24).
Every Game Matters – As mentioned, from July 17-31 the PawSox were either a ½-game ahead in 1st-place in the IL North or a ½-game behind in 2nd-place in the division. They were in 2nd (and a ½-game behind) on July 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, and 30 while they were in 1st (and a ½-game ahead) on July 20, 23, 25, 29, and 31. The PawSox have begun the month of August in a virtual tie with Scranton/WB atop the IL North (the Yanks have one less win and one less loss while the Sox have one less loss than Lehigh Valley).
Win Some, Lose Some – The PawSox have lost 2 in a row and 3 of 4 but are 4-4 in their last 8 games. They have won 11 of their last 18 games and are 13-10 following a 4-16 tailspin from June 18 – July 6.
Chasing the Pigs – Lehigh Valley is one of just three teams the PawSox have a losing record against this season as the Sox are 5-7 vs. the IronPigs thus far (finishing 3-5 in Allentown, PA and 2-2 thus far in Pawtucket). Pawtucket also trails Charlotte (1-3) and finished 3-5 vs. Louisville (the only other teams they have a losing record against to this point).
Stats vs. Lehigh Valley - The PawSox are hitting .266 in the 12 games vs. the IronPigs (104-for-391) with 14 HR (4 by Gomez, 2 by Repko & LaRoche, and 1 by Hassan & Rivera). Sox pitchers are 5-7 with a 2.89 ERA vs. LehighValley (31 ER in 96.2 IP) with 8 HRA. The PawSox have out-scored the IronPigs by a 52-35 margin in the season-series thus far.