JUNE 18th PAWTUCKET (41-28) at COLUMBUS (34-37)
Pawtucket Red Sox LHP Chris Hernandez (3-2, 4.38) vs. Columbus Clippers RHP Joe Martinez (2-5, 6.48)
Climbing to New Heights – The Pawtucket Red Sox look to go 14-games over .500 for the first time this season when they play game two of their 4-game series against the Columbus Clippers tonight at 7:05 pm at Huntington Park in Columbus. The PawSox used three pitchers (winner Rubby De La Rosa along with relievers Alex Wilson and Brock Huntzinger) to blank Columbus, 4-0 last night in the series opener. The win pushed the Sox to 13-games above .500 matching their season-high from June 2 (35-22). A victory tonight would raise them to 14 over for the first time since they ended last season with a 79-65 record.
This Series and Trip - The PawSox and Clippers face each other for three more night games (tonight, tomorrow, and Thursday all at 7:05 pm) before the PawSox continue this 8-game Ohio roadtrip by moving to Toledo for a 4-game wrap-around weekend set this Friday night through next Monday afternoon. That series will actually start a stretch of 8 consecutive games with the Mud Hens as the PawSox return home to McCoy Stadium one week from tonight (Tuesday, June 25) to host Toledo for four more games as part of a season-high 9-game homestand (June 25 – July 3) that also includes a 5-game series with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (the first time the Red Sox and Yankee affiliates will meet at McCoy this season).
Their Cups Runneth Over – The PawSox and Clippers have captured the last three Governors’ Cup Championships. Columbus won the Cup in back-to-back years in 2010 and 2011 while Pawtucket won the International League Championship in 2012 (in case you hadn’t heard). The PawSox are attempting to repeat as Cup Champs this season and although they have never done it in franchise-history the feat is not as rare as one would think. As mentioned, Columbus won back-to-back titles in 2010 & 2011, Toledo did the same in 2005 & 2006, and Durham won the Cup in 2002 & 2003. Before the Bulls pulled off that feat you do have to go back to 1991 and 1992 to find the next repeat champ – and that was Columbus.
High Five – 1st-place Pawtucket’s current 5-game lead is their largest this season and their largest in just over a year since they were up by 5-games last June 15-17 (which was their 2012 season-high). The PawSox have not owned a 1st-place lead of more than 5-game since they were atop the IL North by 6-games on July 9 of 2008. As the midpoint of the season approaches (this Thursday in Columbus by the way), the PawSox have either held 1st or 2nd-place in the division all year except for one day in 3rd-place (May 5). The Sox have held the lead atop the IL North since May 24 after being tied with Buffalo for the top spot from May 17-23.
Road Warriors – The PawSox have the best road record in the International League at 21-13. Syracuse is next with a 19-14 road mark. The Sox have won 13 of their last 20 away games.
Series Matters – By taking 3 of 4 from Buffalo this weekend, Pawtucket won a series for the first time since taking 3 of 4 in Louisville from May 23-26. Thanks in large part to an uncooperative Mother Nature, the PawSox had suffered two straight series losses as their previous two series were both cut short from 4-games to 3-games as the result of rainouts. Thus the Sox had lost back-to-back series for the first time in nearly a year since they lost three straight series last June 18-29 (swept in Syracuse, swept vs. Louisville, and lost 3 of 4 to Charlotte). Pawtucket suffered their first series loss in six weeks from June 4-6 as the visiting Charlotte Knights took an abbreviated set from the Sox, 2 games to 1 (the finale on June 7 was rained-out). Pawtucket had not lost a series in any of their previous 9 attempts (3 wins and 6 splits) since they dropped 3 of 4 in Buffalo from April 23-26. Then from June 8-10 in Syracuse the Sox dropped another abbreviated set to the Chiefs, 2 games to 1. Pawtucket is now 6-4-8 in their first 18 series of the season (6 series wins, 4 series losses, and 8 series splits).
Comeback Kids – 11 of Pawtucket’s last 17 victories since May 19 have been of the come-from-behind variety. On the season, 22 of their 41 victories this year have been in come-from-behind fashion.
It’s Not How You Start But How You Finish – The opponent has scored first in 38 of Pawtucket’s 69 games this season but somehow the PawSox have managed to win as many games as they lose when the opposition jumps to an early lead (Sox are 19-19 in such games). To put that record into perspective, the PawSox were just 25-44 in games when the opponent scored first last year. Pawtucket is 22-9 when they score first in a game this season. Last year they were 54-21 in that category.
Two is Too Many – The PawSox have still not lost more than two games in a row all season and they have not lost three straight since last August 16-18 (two in Scranton/WB and one at home to Buffalo). They have had seven different losing streaks of more than two games last year. Pawtucket has had just seven 2-game losing skids thus far (April 15 & 16, April 18 & 20, April 25 & 26, May 4 & 5, May 12 & 13, May 15 & 16, June 3 & 4, and June 6 & 8).
Staying in Tune in June – The PawSox are past the halfway mark in the month of June with an 8-6 mark. They are hitting .254 in June (119-for-469) and are 8-6 with a 3.85 ERA (53 ER in 124 IP). The Sox are coming off a terrific month of May as they finished 18-11 in May for the most wins of any team in the International League. Pawtucket’s Team ERA in May of 3.39 was the best in the league by far (Indy was next at 3.79). Sox batters were 5th in the league in May with their .263 average.
Hometown Heroes – Pawtucket has won 8 of their last 12 home games including a 4-game home winning streak on May 21 and May 31 – June 2 which was their longest since they opened the season by winning their first four games at McCoy (a 4-game sweep of Rochester from April 11-14). They have not won 5 in a row at home since the 2011 season (July 3 and then July 9-15 of 2011). Pawtucket is 20-15 at home – again a season-high 5-games over .500 at McCoy (also on June 2 and June 14).
Home/Road Results – The PawSox are 20-15 at home compared to 21-13 on the road. Their road numbers are better than home both offensively and on the mound. Pawtucket’s home ERA is 3.86 (138 ER in 322 IP) while their road ERA is 3.51 (112 ER in 287.1 IP). The Sox are hitting .252 at home (290-for-1150) and .266 on the road (303-for-1141). The PawSox have hit 34 HR in 35 games at McCoy compared to 28 HR in 34 away games.