Hey PawSox fans! Lo and behold, we are just about two weeks away from first pitch of the 2015 season and I can’t wait to get things started. For the remainder of this week, I’ll be blogging from Fort Myers and getting you all the latest information on the team as the roster starts to take shape.
We here at the PawSox Radio Network have a couple of big changes to tell you about. First, it’s an honor to welcome my partner for this season Will Flemming. Will is a fantastic broadcaster who I know you will enjoy hearing every night throughout the 2015 campaign.
Here is a phone interview I did with Will for last week’s Insider show. If you have ten minutes, this is a great introduction of the newest member of our network.
Also, if you missed my two-part conversation with new PawSox President James Skeffington, below are the links to check it out. I think you’ll find it an interesting listen:
Also, beginning Wednesday I will no longer be writing on Maurer’s Musings. Instead, you will be able to find my blog work, combined with Will’s, at the popular 45 Miles From Fenway site.
We are making this change with you the reader in mind. Instead of having to check two separate blog sites throughout the season to find all the information from the broadcasters, we wanted to make “45 Miles” your one-stop shop for news from the booth.
Will and I each plan to contribute to “45 Miles” several times a week from now until the end of the season. So please come visit our blog daily to get the same interesting and insightful content (hopefully!) from the PawSox broadcasters that you’ve become accustomed to reading throughout the years.
I’m looking forward to catching up with many of the PawSox coaches and players this week. We’ll have plenty of content from Spring Training on the “45 Miles” blog and on pawsox.com in the coming days.
Hi PawSox fans! Hope you are ready for some baseball. Opening day for the 2015 season is now just over one month away. With games about to get started in Fort Myers, we’re making our preparations for another great year on the PawSox Radio Network.
There is a big change at the top of the network, as I’ll have a new broadcast partner in 2015. As most of you have read by now, Jeff Levering, the “Voice of the PawSox” for the last two seasons, has earned a well-deserved job with the Milwaukee Brewers Radio Network. Not only is Jeff is fantastic play-by-play man, but also a terrific person who will be hard to replace.
While the search is on-going to find the next PawSox broadcaster, our 2015 season has already begun with two editions of PawSox Insider. The shows are airing on WHJJ (920 AM) in Providence every Saturday at 1pm during February and March, and are also podcast for on-demand listening at http://www.pawsox.com.
Here are the links to listen to the first two episodes of the year:
Episode 1 (Feb. 21): Includes interviews with Ben Crockett, Mookie Betts, Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar in addition to the Plays of the Month from April and May 2014.
Episode 2 (Feb. 28): Includes interviews with Jeff Levering (part 1 of 2), PawSox Manager Kevin Boles and pitcher Keith Couch in addition to the Plays of the Month from June 2014.
Check back this Saturday for the first Insider episode of March, when we’ll have conversations with the great Rich Gedman, big Red Sox infield prospect Sean Coyle in addition to part two of my interview with Jeff.
Lots more news will follow in the weeks to come. The countdown to the season is underway. Can’t wait for it all to begin!
After 144 games played, 141 unique starting lineups and 204 roster moves (and counting), the PawSox are in the IL playoffs and ready to take on Syracuse in the semifinal round. Its a battle of the top two teams in the league this season and should be a terrific best-of-five series.
Pawtucket won 79 games this season (79-65), only one fewer than it did in 2013 (80-63). The team won five of its final eight contests after Buffalo had pulled in to a tie in the wild card standings on August 24th. The playoff-clinching game, game #143 on the season, came on Sunday night (and actually ended on Monday morning after a lengthy rain delay) against Rochester.
The PawSox had a record of 39-41 after a rough 10-inning home loss to Norfolk on June 24th. They finished by going 40-24 over the final two-plus months including a franchise-record 11-game winning streak in July. The squad earned a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season, extending its franchise-record streak in the process.
Kudos to all of the players and coaches for a great year! As we get ready for game one of the postseason on Wednesday night, here are some news and notes for your reading pleasure:
-Congrats to Mookie Betts and Anthony Ranaudo, who were named as the PawSox’s Most Valuable Player/Pitcher for 2014. Betts, who only played in 45 games, batted .335 with five homers, 31 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. Most impressively, the team went 30-15 in games that Betts played while only 49-50 without Mookie in the lineup.
Ranaudo led the IL in wins (14), ERA (2.61) and opponent batting average (.223) while finishing third in WHIP (1.20). His last loss came on June 1st. The righty from New Jersey made only three starts with Pawtucket after July 25th because of three different promotions up to Boston.
-Garin Cecchini turned around a rough mid-season slump with a flourish at the finish. In his final 21 regular-season games (beginning August 9th) Cecchini batted .382 (29-for-76) with two homers, ten doubles and 21 RBI. He also returned to third base for the majority of the month, including playing at the hot corner in his final ten games played.
-Pawtucket had a winning record in four of the five months during the regular season including a 16-14 mark in August. The PawSox struggled at home during the season’s final month, going only 6-10 at McCoy compared to 10-4 on the road.
-Beginning on July 7th, the squad won 21 of its final 29 road contests and finished 41-31 away from home, tied with Columbus for the best road mark in the IL. Pawtucket dropped only three road series all year (all in May) and none of its last 13.
-I wrote at the midway point of the season that the PawSox (35-37 at the time) should make a run at the playoffs if the offense made some improvements. Well, the improvements happened and the playoff run happened indeed.
In the first 72 games games of the season, Pawtucket’s offense batted .236 and averaged only 3.7 runs per game. Over the final 72 contests the team batting average improved 39 points to .275 and the runs scored went up to 5.2 per night. Not surprisingly, the record improved dramatically to 44-28.
-Justin Henry had a phenomenal finish to the season. After returning from a lengthy DL stint on July 31st, Henry played in 22 games and batted .342 (27-for-79), the eighth-best average in the league during that time frame. He started the final eight games of the season and batted third in the order the last two.
-Three PawSox were recalled to Boston after the Major League rosters expanded earlier this week: pitchers Steven Wright and Brandon Workman and catcher Dan Butler. Butler, who went hitless in his first big-league stint in August, batted .385 (10-for-26) in his seven games after returning to Pawtucket.
-As mentioned earlier, PawSox skipper Kevin Boles repeated a starting lineup only THREE TIMES in 144 regular-season games. After June 12th, Pawtucket used a different lineup for the final 75 games. Here were the repeats:
May 2nd & May 13th (1-1 record):
1. Brock Holt
2. Ryan Roberts
3. Daniel Nava
4. Ryan Lavarnway
5. Bryce Brentz
6. Garin Cecchini
7. Christian Vazquez
8. Corey Brown
9. Alex Hassan
June 4th & June 5th (1-1 record):
1. Mookie Betts
2. Garin Cecchini
3. Ryan Roberts
4. Travis Shaw
5. Christian Vazquez
6. Corey Brown
7. Dan Butler
8. Mike McCoy
9. Shannon Wilkerson
June 10th & June 12th (2-0 record):
1. Mookie Betts
2. Mike McCoy
3. Travis Shaw
4. Carlos Rivero
5. Corey Brown
6. Garin Cecchini
7. Christian Vazquez
8. Alex Hassan
9. Dan Butler
Other than these three, every other lineup created by Boles this season was used just one time!
-Rusney Castillo, the much-heralded Red Sox international signee from Cuba, will play for Double-A Portland in their Eastern League playoff series against Binghamton beginning on Wednesday night. There had been some speculation that Castillo might join Pawtucket for its postseason.
-Here are a couple of interesting interviews from the previous two weeks of PawSox Insider shows. First, Bryce Brentz talked about his frustrating road back from a hamstring injury that cost him nearly half of the season:
-Next, here is a conversation with Dan Butler about his first taste of the Major Leagues and all the great pitchers he’s caught in Pawtucket this season:
Lefty Edwin Escobar gets the call for the PawSoxagainst Chiefs righty Taylor Hill in game one of the series on Wedneday night at 7:05 pm. Hope to see you at McCoy – if not Jeff and I will talk to you on the radio!
As of Thursday afternoon, the PawSox have 12 games remaining in the regular season. Eight of those 12 will be against teams they are directly battling for one of two available playoff spots (North Division title, wild card winner). Pawtucket plays four games at Buffalo beginning Saturday night, then hosts Syracuse and Rochester for a pair each over Labor Day weekend.
Syracuse, winners of 12 of 16 since August 4th, currently holds a 3.0 game advantage over the second-place PawSox for the division lead. Rochester and Buffalo are each 3.0 games behind Pawtucket in the wild card race. All four teams are very much alive in the postseason chase, which should make for an a fun finish to the campaign.
After being swept in a four-game series by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre the PawSox have bounced back and shut out Lehigh Valley in back-to-back games the last two nights by a combined 16-0. Perhaps the RailRiders just had Pawtucket’s number – Scranton went 7-1 at McCoy Stadium this year and 11-5 overall against Kevin Boles’ squad. Things have certainly turned around now that the IronPigs have come to town.
Here are some noteworthy items to check out before game seven of the current homestand on Thursday night:
-Chalk up another fantastic start for Matt Barnes on Wednesday against Lehigh Valley (6.1 IP, 2H, 0R, 3BB, 7K) . Barnes retired 17 of the first 18 batters he faced and looked completely dominant against the helpless IronPigs. In his last two starts at home, Barnes has tossed 13.1 scoreless innings and allowed just two hits! He has now allowed only seven runs in six starts since the All-Star break (38.2 IP).
-The PawSox are using their 130th unique batting lineup Thursday (spots 1-9, regardless of defensive position) in the team’s 133 games played. Kevin Boles has not repeated any lineup since June 12th, a span of 64 straight with a different order. Pretty wild I think.
-Ryan Lavarnway left Wednesday night’s game with concussion-like symptoms. It was especially a shame for Lavarnway, who has had a fantastic offensive homestand. In five games played during the stand, he is 7-for-11 with seven walks, three runs scored and an RBI. Lavarnway reached base in nine straight plate appearances three hits, six walks) from Monday night through the fourth inning of Wednesday’s contest.
Speaking of Lavarnway, below is an interview I did with the 27-year-old earlier this week in which he discussed the challenges of coming back from surgery to repair a broken hamate bone.
-Steven Wright, optioned back from Boson on Tuesday, is now slated to start for the PawSox in the homestand finale Friday night against Lehigh Valley. Wright is 0-2 with a 4.18 ERA in his last four starts with Pawtucket (23.3 IP, 26H, 15R, 11ER). It will be a big help to the rotation to have the knuckleballer return to his dominating form of earlier this season.
-Jackie Bradley Jr. is in the leadoff spot and playing centerfield for the fourth straight night Thursday since being optioned to Pawtucket on Monday afternoon. Through his first three games with the PawSox Bradley Jr. is 2-for-15 with six punchouts.
-Anthony Ranaudo has to be the favorite to win the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher award. The right-hander, who earned his league-best 14th win of the season on Tuesday by blanking Lehigh Valley for six innings, is second in the IL in ERA (2.46), third in WHIP (1.18) and first in opponent batting average (.218). He has only made two starts with Pawtucket since July 26th because of his two Major League call-ups.
Thursday night’s game begins at 7:05 with super-prospect Henry Owens making his fourth start at Triple-A. After shutting out Columbus for 6 2/3 innings in his spectacular debut, Owens has allowed four runs in each of his last two outings. The southpaw will look to regain his top form against a Lehigh Valley squad that hasn’t scored a run in 18 innings of the series.
Thanks for checking in, I look forward to seeing you at McCoy or talking to you on the radio!