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Pawtucket Claims Division Title for First Time Since 2003

McCoy Stadium (Meegs)

A long season reached another milestone for the Pawtucket Red Sox on Saturday night when they defeated Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 12-7, as Pawtucket locked up the International League North Division championship for the first time in eight years. Pawtucket won 12-7 on the strength of a 5-run first inning and a 7-run eighth inning. They will play a best out of five series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs beginning on Wednesday. With the loss, Scranton’s run of five consecutive division titles is snapped. Here are all the season’s highs and lows for the 2011 IL North Division champion Pawtucket Red Sox:

Big Hurts

For any team, finishing the season on top requires more than just the nine regulars and five starting pitchers. When key players go down due to injuries, other players must step up in their place. Players who were injured included:

Ryan Kalish

After hitting .294/.356/.476 in 37 games last year to go along with 12 steals in 14 attempts, expectations were high for the man who was thought of as the second coming of Jacoby Ellsbury by many (including me). These dreams were dashed on April 21 when he rolled over his right wrist while making a sliding catch on Syracuse Chief’s 1B Michael Aubrey. Kalish wouldn’t play again until August 9, wasn’t the same, and was shut down on August 31. This development essentially handed Boston’s 2012 starting job in RF to Josh Reddick, who has taken advantage of J.D. Drew’s time on the DL to nail down a roster spot for next year.

Jose Iglesias

The Cuban defector began the season in Pawtucket after batting .285 last year in Portland. The 21 year-old shortstop displayed great defensive ability while lacking offensively. On July 3, the Yankees’ Andrew Brackman drilled Iglesias in the head with a heater, and Jose immediately crumpled to the ground. He had suffered a severe concussion and was placed on the DL. After missing two weeks, he was cleared by doctors and appears to be fine going forward.

Just Passing Through

Injuries are no less a part of major league team’s seasons then of minor league team’s, and the 2011 Boston Red Sox were no exception. Watching seasoned veterans make appearances in small-town bandboxes is one of my favorite summer activities, and this season did not disappoint. A quick recap:

John Lackey

Lackey made one rehab start while recovering from an elbow strain. On June 1, he went 5.2 innings while giving up a solo bomb against the Norfolk Tides without getting the decision. His season since then has been up and down to say the least, but he appears to have settled down lately and has made a strong case for being included in the playoff rotation.

Bobby Jenks

During a season in which the former Chicago closer couldn’t seem to stay healthy, Jenks still managed to start two games for Pawtucket while giving up one run over two innings. He likely will not pitch again this season.

Carl Crawford

Crawford actually had a lower batting average in Pawtucket than in Boston this season, going 1 for 5 with an RBI.

J.D. Drew

Drew attempted to come back from a shoulder impingement last week and went 3 for 3 in his only appearance, but re-injured his shoulder in the process. The former first round pick has possibly played his last game in a Boston uniform.

Kevin Youkilis

The man we call Youk went down with a sore back on August 18 and passed through the friendly confines of McCoy Stadium en route to America’s Most Beloved Ballpark. In two games he went 2 for 8 with a home run and is back up in Boston cleaning up like the good old days.

Quest for the Cup

Pawtucket will continue the quest for the Cup – the Governor’s Cup, that is, handed out each year to the winners of the International League – after playing two inconsequential games on Sunday and Monday. They then play a best out of five series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The winner of that series will play the winner of the Columbus Clippers/Durham Bulls matchup. Pawtucket has won two Governer’s Cups: in 1973, the first year of the franchise’s existence, and in 1984.

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Discussion

One comment for “Pawtucket Claims Division Title for First Time Since 2003”

  1. Love that veiled reference to Yaz!

    Posted by Jan Ka | September 5, 2011, 8:40 am

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