AUGUST 9th SYRACUSE (57-61) at PAWTUCKET (65-53) 12:05 pm
Syracuse Chiefs RHP Jeff Mandel (2-4, 3.51) vs.Pawtucket Red Sox RHP Billy Buckner (4-5, 4.48)
Weekday Matinee – The Pawtucket Red Sox, who fell into 2nd-place (-½ GB of the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees) last night, and the Syracuse Chiefs conclude their season-series against each other today with a matinee affair at 12:05 pm at McCoy Stadium. The PawSox are 17-8 in day games this season and they have won their last 6 afternoon games in a row (since an 8-5 loss in LehighValley on July 1). After today the Sox have just four more afternoon games for the remainder of the season – on Saturday, August 18 at Fenway and Sunday, August 19 at McCoy both vs. Buffalo; Sunday, August 26 in Charlotte; and the final regular-season game of the year on Labor Day Monday, September 3 vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at McCoy.
Until Next Year - The PawSox and Syracuse are facing each other for the final time in 2012 today in what is their third series against each other in about a month span – all here at McCoy Stadium. Syracuse took game one of this 2-game set last night, 10-2 (matching Pawtucket’s worst loss of the season) but the PawSox still have a 9-6 lead in the season-series vs. the Chiefs (5-2 here at McCoy) with the finale on tap for today. Syracuse was the last team to come to Pawtucket this season when they played their first game of the year at McCoy on July 7. The PawSox swept that series on July 7-8. They met again a week later for a 4-game set from July 16-19 at McCoy with the Sox taking 3 of 4 in that series. And now they play their final game against each other today here at McCoy. These two IL North rivals first met in 2012 for a 4-game series in Syracuse from April 16-19 with the PawSox sweeping that series. Two months later from June 18-21, also in Syracuse, the Chiefs returned the favor by sweeping that 4-game set from the PawSox.
Win Some, Lose Some – In the last three weeks, the PawSox have not been able to win more than two in a row or lose more than two in a row. Since a 3-game winning streak from July 15-17, the Sox have won back-to-back games four different times (including this past Sunday & Monday before last night’s loss) and they have lost back-to-back games only once (August 1 & 2). Over a longer stretch the Sox have won 14 of their last 23 games and are 16-12 following a 4-16 tailspin from June 18 – July 6.
Home Improvement – The Sox have won 5 of 7 at home and Pawtucket has won 8 of their last 11 games at McCoy since July 15 after losing 11 of 15 at home from June 22 – July 14.
***If the Season Ended Today - Right now it would be Pawtucket as the IL Wild Card vs. Scranton/WB as the IL North Champ but that could change as early as tonight as the PawSox and Yankees are separated by just a ½-game in the IL North standings. Both the Sox and Yanks have little breathing room in the wild card race as LehighValley is -1½ GB and Columbus is -2½ GB of the PawSox in the chase for the wild card.
View From the Top – In eight days thus far this month, the PawSox have been in 2nd-place (right now by a ½-game), alone in 1st-place four times (last Friday and Sunday – Tuesday), and in a virtual tie for 1st-place with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre three times on August 1, 2, and 4. Their largest lead while in 1st-place this month has been 1-game (the Sox are currently -½-game). From July 17-31 the PawSox were either in 1st-place and +½-game or in 2nd-place and –½-game in the division every day during that stretch.
This Homestand – The PawSox are 3-2 on this 6-game homestand that concludes today. Pawtucket took 3 of 4 from LehighValley over the wrap-around weekend. After today’s game the PawSox will head to Rochester and will spend the wrap-around weekend in New York. It will begin with a 2-game series in Rochester tomorrow and Saturday nights (both at 7:05 pm) before moving to Buffalo for 2-games on Sunday (6:05 pm) and Monday nights (7:05 pm – Live on NESN). Pawtucket will be right back to McCoy for a huge 9-game homestand this coming Tuesday that will feature 5-games vs. Scranton/WB (including a make-up doubleheader on Aug. 15 at 5:35 pm) along with the Future’s at Fenway game on Saturday, August 18 vs. Buffalo at approximately 4:35 pm. The homestand will last from August 14-21 after which the Sox will have just four regular-season home games remaining (August 31 – September 3).