APRIL 16th ROCHESTER (5-1) at PAWTUCKET (4-3) 7:05 pm
Rochester Red Wings LHP Taylor Rogers (0-0, 0.00) vs. Pawtucket Red Sox RHP Steven Wright (NR)
Opening Act – The defending International League Champion Pawtucket Red Sox – coming off a 4-3 season-opening roadtrip to Lehigh Valley (3-1) and Buffalo (1-2) – make their 2015 McCoy Stadium debut tonight when they play their home-opener against the Rochester Red Wings at 7:05 pm (live on NESN). The PawSox had won four straight home-openers from 2010-2013 to set a new club-record but they had that streak snapped in last year’s home-opener when they were shutout by Lehigh Valley, 4-0. The 2014 home-opener came on April 3 which tied for the earliest date the PawSox had played at McCoy (equaling the 2008 home-opener that also occurred on April 3). Tonight’s home-opener is the latest the Sox have had at McCoy since the 2009 season when they had their home-opener that year on April 17. Pawtucket has defeated Rochester each of the last three times they have hosted the Red Wings in their home-opener (2010, 2011, and 2013).
Ring in the New Year – Returning PawSox players, and there are 20 of them either active on the current PawSox roster or on the disabled list, will receive their 2014 Governors’ Cup Championship rings in special pre-game ceremonies tonight. In addition, manager Kevin Boles, coach Bruce Crabbe, and trainer Jon Jochim are also back on the staff. Players who are expected to receive their rings tonight are pitchers Matt Barnes, Miguel Celestino, Keith Couch, Heath Hembree, Dalier Hinojosa, Brian Johnson, Tommy Layne, Henry Owens, Noe Ramirez, Eddie Rodriguez, Brandon Workman (on Boston’s disabled list), and Steven Wright; catchers Matt Spring and Blake Swihart; infielders Garin Cecchini, Deven Marrero, and Travis Shaw; and outfielders Jackie Bradley, Jr., Bryce Brentz, and Rusney Castillo (currently on the PawSox disabled list).
Two out of Three Ain’t Bad – During the 2014 season, it took 143 games (out of 144 regular-season games) for the PawSox to secure the IL wild card and earn their 4th consecutive trip to the International League Playoffs (adding to their franchise-record in that regard). The PawSox were involved in a total of 225 player transactions during the year, employed 66 different players, sent 25 players to Boston, received 16 players from Portland, and manager Kevin Boles used a rather amazing 150 different line-ups in 153 total games (and those included the batting order only and not the starting pitcher). Through it all he steered the PawSox to their second championship in three years (after a 27 year stretch with no Cups from 1985-2011) as Pawtucket swept Syracuse, 3 games to 0 in the semi-finals and then rallied to beat the Durham Bulls, 3 games to 2 in a thrilling 2014 championship series.
Tonight’s Opening Ceremonies – The PawSox will once again keep in their tradition of honoring the Police and Fire Departments from throughout southern New England prior to tonight’s game. Tonight’s ceremonial 1st ball will be thrown out by Dave Belisle, the manager of the Cumberland American Little League All-Stars who won the Rhode Island and New England championship and made it to the Little League World Series last August. Dave, who was one of 20 nominees for Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year” thanks in large part to his memorable post-game speech after his team was eliminated from the World Series, will be accompanied by his sons Brendan, Brian, James, and John along with his entire Cumberland All-Star team. After a moment of silence for Dave’s late wife Nancy and others, Rhode Island State Trooper Amanda Brezniak will sing tonight’s National Anthem along with a cannon salute from the Guards of Thunder of the RI Army National Guard.