AUGUST 21st PAWTUCKET (70-60) at SCRANTON/WB (63-68) 7:05
Pawtucket RHP Allen Webster (7-4, 3.84) vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RHP Brett Marshall (7-9, 5.26)
Best of Seven vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre – The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders meet for the first of seven consecutive games tonight when they open a 4-game series at PNC Field in Moosic, PA at 7:05 pm. The teams play for four straight nights here (all at 7:05 pm) before the scene shifts to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket for three more games on Sunday at 6:05 pm and next Monday and Tuesday at 7:05 pm. Both teams have 13 games remaining in the regular-season and 7 of those are against each other as Pawtucket tries to hold onto the wild card and/or catch 1st-place Rochester while Scranton/WB desperately tries to get back in the wild card race.
Getting Hot at the Right Time – The PawSox – winners of 3 in a row and 9 of their last 10 games – are coming off a 7-1 homestand…their best of the season. Last night they completed a series victory over Buffalo with a 1-0 shutout to take 3 of 4 from the Bisons and hurt Buffalo’s playoff chances in a big way (now -4½ GB of the Sox). PawSox pitchers tossed back-to-back shutouts the past two nights blanking Buffalo 3-0 and 1-0 to mark their first consecutive shutouts since June 15 & 17 of 2010. Sox pitchers have not allowed a run in 21 consecutive innings.
Just Win Baby – Pawtucket swept a 4-game series vs. Louisville last week to begin the homestand and they matched their season-long winning streak with their third 6-game winning streak from August 10-16 before having it snapped on Saturday night by Buffalo. The Sox have bounced right back to win their last three games, so they have now won 9 of their last 10 overall since a 4-game losing streak from August 6-9. During this stretch the PawSox have won 7 of their last 8 at home and they also won two in a row on the road to end their last trip (August 10 & 11 in Syracuse).
Three’s a Charm – Pawtucket has won their last three games while scoring 3 runs, 3 runs, and 1 run – only their 9th, 10th, and 11th victories in 44 games this season when they have scored 3 runs or less. PawSox pitchers in those 3 games are 3-0 with a 0.33 ERA (1 ER in 27 IP). Their line – 27 IP, 14 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 12 BB, 22 SO.
Timely Fashion – The PawSox and Buffalo played all four games of their series in under 2 hours and 45 minutes as they had games of 2:44, 2:44 again, 2:37, and 2:38 the past four days. Furthermore, Pawtucket and Louisville played in 2 hours & 59 minutes last Friday just before the Buffalo series began, so the Sox have had five straight games of under 3 hours at McCoy Stadiums for the first time this season. The PawSox have played five consecutive games in less than 3 hours one other time this season with the first four of those coming on the road (May 10-13 in Charlotte and then May 14 at home vs. Gwinnett). Times during that snappy stretch were 2:20, 2:40, 2:45, 2:18, and 2:56.
Wild Card Lead Lengthens – The PawSox are the current wild card leader and have been since they regained the wild card spot just over a week ago (August 13). The margin has increased to +2-games over Norfolk (3 in the loss column) which is Pawtucket’s largest wild card advantage since July 29-31 when they were 2½-games up on Buffalo at that time. Pawtucket is 70-60 while the Norfolk Tides are 69-63. The Sox have 13 games left while Norfolk has 12 games remaining (the Tides are off today). In fact, all playoff contenders are off today (Rochester, Buffalo, Lehigh Valley, and Norfolk) with the exception of the PawSox at Scranton/WB.
Wild Ride – While the PawSox are 3-games ahead of Norfolk in the loss column they have also increased the gap on Buffalo and Lehigh Valley who trail by 3½-games (the Sox are 4 up in the loss column on both those clubs). Scranton/Wilkes-Barre comes into play tonight trailing five teams in the wild card standings (-7½ GB of the PawSox). Pawtucket will play 143 games while all other teams are still scheduled for 144 games as the Sox had a home game vs. Charlotte cancelled due to rain on June 7. The Sox were out of a playoff spot from August 8-12 which other than May 5had been the only time all season they had not held a playoff spot. Pawtucket is bidding to qualify for the post-season for the third straight year which would be a franchise-first.