|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
It was a very odd week for the Pawtucket Red Sox, as they played two games in Allentown, and then hosted Lehigh for four at McCoy. Pawtucket got swept in Lehigh Valley, but won three games at home to remain in first in the IL North. They then lost two straight against Syracuse before rebounding Friday night against Rochester.
Last Friday, C Carson Blair was sent down to Salem and was replaced by fellow backstop Dan Butler. Last Saturday, IF Tony Thomas was placed on the DL with a calf strain, and OF Alex Hassan was activated.
Hector Luna led off the bottom of the second by taking former teammate Tony Pena, Jr. deep. The Pigs tacked on another run in the fourth on a Michael Spidale RBI single. Pawtucket tied it in the sixth on a Mauro Gomez single and a Juan Carlos Linares sacrifice fly. Mark Prior worked two no-hit innings and Will Inman set Lehigh down in order to send the game into extras. Andres Blanco led off the bottom of the tenth with a homer off of Alex Wilson to win it for the IronPigs.
Pawtucket struck first in the second on a leadoff homer from Andy LaRoche, but Jose De La Torre gave up a single to the first batter he faced to allow both inherited runners to score. Raul Valdes and Justin De Fratus each pitched scoreless innings to seal the win for Lehigh.
Pawtucket once again drew first blood when Juan Carlos Linares doubled home Iglesias and LaRoche in the first. That was all the offense Sox starter Billy Buckner would need, as he scattered four hits over 6.1 shutout frames while striking out three. Will Inman retired five out of the six Pigs he faced to lower his ERA to 2.32.
Lehigh finally got on the board in the ninth when Hector Luna hit a leadoff home run off of Clayton Mortensen.
Mauro Gomez went 2-for-4 and scored twice.
Jose Iglesias scored in the first on a wild pitch by Pigs starter Jonathan Pettibone. Lehigh took the lead in the third Sebastian Valle’s first homer of the season, but Pawtucket tied it in the fifth on Jason Repko’s RBI triple. Lehigh Valley regained the lead in the sixth Steve Susdorf’s RBI double, and Raul Valdes threw two scoreless frames to earn his seventh hold.
With runners on first and second and one out, Jose Iglesias threw away a would-be double-play ball to load the bases. A sacrifice fly and a double put Lehigh on top 3-0, and Jake Fox singled home Orr in the fifth to increase the Pigs lead to 5-0. Juan Carlos Linares homered to lead off the inning, and Mike Rivera doubled home LaRoche and Rodriguez. (This proves the old saying “Good things come to those who wait for the Fifth Inning Soft Toss.” Or something like that.)
Alex Wilson fired two shutout innings of relief while striking out three to keep the game within reach. Linares led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, and advanced to second on Phillippe Aumont’s wild pitch. Reynaldo Rodriguez doubled him home to put the tying run on base. Rivera walked, and Aumont uncorked another wild pitch to allow Rodriguez to score and tie the game.
Josh Fields, acquired in last year’s Erik Bedard trade (Theo Epstein’s last trade for the Red Sox), struck out two in a scoreless tenth.
Jason Repko and Mauro Gomez walked, and Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly to center to end the game.
The Pawtucket bats shelled Pigs starter Scott Elarton for seven runs in four innings. That turned out to be more than enough runs for Sox starter Zach Stewart, who scattered three hits over five scoreless innings while striking out four. At one point, Red Sox pitching had retired ten IronPigs in a row. Lehigh avoided the shutout on a sacrifice fly from Jake Fox in the ninth. Jose Iglesias went 3-for-5 and scored twice.
Chris Hernandez had a tough outing for the PawSox, lasting just two innings. He allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits and four walks, taking the loss.
Mark Prior came on in relief and allowed two more runs in an inning of work.
John Lannan, meanwhile, allowed just two runs over 8.0 innings to pick up his seventh win.
Mauro Gomez, batting cleanup and playing third base, went 1-4 with a HR and two RBI.
Syracuse got five runs on the third off Billy Bucknet, who lasted 5.0 innings and took the loss.
The PawSox scored single runs in the third, sixth and eighth, but were not able to get any closer than that.
Andrew Bailey tossed a scoreless sixth inning with two strikeouts in relief.
Daniel Bard, meanwhile, allowed a run on one hit and two walks in the seventh inning.
The Sox bats came out to support Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was making a rehab start. Dice-K allowed two runs on five hits and two walks in 4.2 innings.
Pawtucket batters combined for 14 hits and nine runs. Jason Repko finished with 3 RBI while Danny Valencia went 3-3
Nelson Figeroua picked up the win, pitching 4.1 innings in relief.