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Archive for the ‘Minors’ Category

R.I.P. Ben Mondor, Pawtucket Red Sox owner

Posted by Joshua Kummins on October 4, 2010

It is the end of an era for the Pawtucket Red Sox today, as the club and the baseball community mourn in the passing of beloved owner, Ben Mondor. Ben passed away peacefully on Sunday evening at his home in Warwick Neck, RI at the age of 85.

Our condolences go out to his family, friends, president Mike Tamburro and the PawSox organization, and the state of Rhode Island and anybody associated with this great man.

A statement from the Boston Red Sox:

The Boston Red Sox join baseball lovers everywhere in mourning the loss of Pawtucket Red Sox Owner and Red Sox Hall of Famer Ben Mondor. The club extends its deepest condolences to his beloved wife Madeleine, his family, and his extended PawSox family and friends.

“Ben was a giant among men who saved baseball for the State of Rhode Island. On both a personal and professional level, I am saddened to hear of his passing,” said Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino. “He was a good friend of many years and was one of the finest people to ever be a part of the game of baseball. When we honored him on ‘Ben Mondor Day’ at Fenway Park in 2004, the sheer number of people who came to join us in the celebrations showed the profound impact that his life had on the game and on the lives of people. His generosity, kindness and compassion will be missed, but what a life he led.”

“Ben Mondor was a legend and made innumerable contributions to the Boston Red Sox, which directly contributed to two World Series Championships,” said Red Sox Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein. “Through Ben’s foresight and determination, he transformed the PawSox into one of the best Triple-A franchises in the country. He played a significant role in developing hundreds of Major League players many of whom contributed immensely to the success of the Boston Red Sox. He treated the players like his own family and his devotion to their development was absolute. We will miss him.”

When Ben Mondor took over the reins of the “Rhode Island” Red Sox in 1977, the franchise was on the brink of bankruptcy and losing its association from professional baseball. A struggling franchise was transformed into one of the most successful Triple-A ballclubs because of his vision, business acumen and dedication, and thanks to him Rhode Islanders have enjoyed the best of baseball and family entertainment.

Ben nurtured the careers of almost 500 Major Leaguers. He transformed beautiful McCoy Stadium from an aging 1942 relic into the “building of dreams” after an extensive renovation in 1999. But Ben was always devoted to his fans and kept baseball affordable for families in Rhode Island, and beyond, during his 33 year tenure.

Ben was a warm and generous man who was loved in the community and well known for his benevolence and philanthropy. Hundreds of non-profit groups and charities benefited from the big heart of a baseball giant.

A statement from Minor League Baseball, regarding the death of Mondor and former International League president Harold Cooper:

“Our game has lost two icons with the recent passing of Ben Mondor and Harold Cooper.  These two men were architects of the modern Minor League Baseball era.  Their tireless efforts in Minor League Baseball are no more evident than the fact they sustained Minor League Baseball through some of our roughest years and completed the task of returning it to the limelight it richly deserves.

Ben Mondor took a Pawtucket franchise from the depths of bankruptcy and led it to prominence in Minor League Baseball’s highest classification.  Ben was recognized by every major industry publication for his executive and ownership successes.  More telling is the love affair Ben had with his team, fans and front office staff.  From first-class operations to a major renovation of McCoy Stadium, Ben handled his ownership with dignity, respect and responsibility.  His gentle, but steady, hand will always be present in the workings of the Pawtucket franchise.  Seldom are we privileged to associate with the likes of Ben Mondor. 

In many respects, Harold Cooper was professional baseball in Columbus, Ohio.  Harold rose from the ranks of a clubhouse attendant to General Manager of the Columbus franchise.  His fierce style and competitive nature made him a giant in our industry.  Harold served our game in many positions, and in many ways.  His knowledge of baseball’s inner workings was rarely matched, and his reputation in the game seldom equaled.  As a childhood fan of the Columbus team, I personally benefitted from Harold’s involvement in the game.  As an organization, we owe him a debt of gratitude.  He will be sorely missed.

Our thoughts and prayers go out their families, friends and colleagues.”

Posted in Minors, PawSox, Red Sox | Leave a Comment »

Minors: Watson, Curve take home first EL title

Posted by Joshua Kummins on September 19, 2010

by Robert Emrich, MiLB.com

Pitching in the biggest game in franchise history, Tony Watson showed he’s back on course.

Watson recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts over six innings Saturday as the Altoona Curve captured the first Eastern League championship with a 5-2 victory over the Trenton Thunder.

A ninth-round pick in the 2007 Draft, Watson spent the first half of the season in the bullpen after missing much of last year with a strained flexor tendon in his pitching arm. He moved into the rotation on July 25 and ended up 3-4 with a 3.78 ERA in nine starts.

“You know, starting the season in the bullpen, you just take the ball whenever they ask you to. And I did,” Watson said. “My arm feels great. It’s just icing on the cake, it feels great.”

Watson (2-0) closed out Altoona’s semifinal series on Sept. 11 against Harrisburg, giving up three runs over 6 2/3 innings. He was given a chance to do the same at Trenton.

“It’s just another game, you can’t really think about the past,” Watson said. “The guys were pretty excited after last night’s win and we really wanted to get the win tonight.”

Former big league catcher Matt Walbeck said his second season as Curve manager was made easier because many of his players won the 2009 Carolina League championship with Lynchburg.

“The players were used to winning and had that mind-set of playing the game the right way,” he said. “They did things the way they are supposed to be done. To win in this league, it says a lot.”

While managing in the Tigers organization, Walbeck guided Class A West Michigan to back-to-back Midwest League championships in 2006-07. The 40-year-old served as the Texas Rangers’ third-base coach in 2008 before taking the Altoona job.

“Winning a championship without the halves is special because it’s a full season, it’s old-school baseball,” he said. “It means more in the traditional sense — you go wire-to-wire and the strongest remain standing. To beat the Trenton Thunder, they’re a formidable opponent. That means a lot, too.”

Jim Negrych went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. With the Curve trailing, 1-0, in the fourth, he singled home Matt Hague and Andrew Lambo to put the Curve ahead to stay.

“It was huge,” Watson said. “The offense came out and put up two and I had to go out and get the offense back in the dugout as quick as we could.”

The Curve got another dominant performance out of their bullpen as Jared Hughes and Daniel Moskos combined on three hitless innings. Moskos picked up his fifth save, capping a postseason in which the former first-round pick did not allow a run over 6 1/3 frames.

“Daniel Moskos gave us strength in the bottom of the bullpen that all championship teams need,” Walbeck said.

Justin Wilson was named postseason MVP after pitching 13 scoreless innings to win both of his starts.

“Justin Wilson is a big-game pitcher,” Walbeck said. “He stepped up for us big time whenever we needed him to.”

Altoona native Bob Lozinak bought the Curve in 2008 and was pleased to bring the hometown fans a championship.

“I can’t emphasize the attitude the fans in Altoona had toward this ballclub. They’re just great people,” he said. “I know the fans in Altoona have a lot to be proud of. We’ll get that trophy out there and everyone will get a chance to see it.”

Posted in Minors | Leave a Comment »

Minors: Sox announce Minor League award winners

Posted by Joshua Kummins on September 19, 2010

The Red Sox honored their 2010 Minor League award winners prior to Saturday night’s game against the Blue Jays. The awards were chosen by selected by the Red Sox baseball operations department and minor league roving instructors. All seven recipients were honored in a ceremony and the winners were announced in this Red Sox press release:

Pitcher of the Year – LHP Felix Doubront, Double-A Portland/Triple-A Pawtucket: Combined to go 8-3 with a 2.81 ERA (25 ER/80.0 IP) and 72 strikeouts in 17 games (16 starts) between Portland and Pawtucket as a 22 year old…Has also appeared in 12 games (three starts) with the Red Sox this season in his Major League debut…Held opponents to two earned runs or less in 12 of his 14 minor league starts…Began the season as Portland’s Opening Day starter and went 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA (12 ER/43.0 IP) before a May 20 promotion to Pawtucket, where he went 4-3 with a 3.16 ERA (13 ER/37.0 IP)…Signed with the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2004.

Offensive Co-Player of the Year – 1B Anthony Rizzo, Single-A Salem/Double-A Portland: Hit .260 (138-for-531) with 42 doubles, 25 homers, 100 RBI and 61 walks in 136 games between Salem and Portland…At 21 years old, led the Red Sox minor leagues in home runs and ranked second in RBI…Set a franchise record for the Sea Dogs with 32 RBI in August…Was selected as the Eastern League Player of the Week for August 2-8, batting .444 (12-for-27) with four doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI in that span…Was Boston’s seventh pick (sixth round, 204th overall) in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.

Offensive Co-Player of the Year – C Ryan Lavarnway, Single-A Salem/Double-A Portland: Batted .288 (133-for-462) with 27 doubles, 22 home runs, 70 walks and 102 RBI in 126 games with Salem and Portland…Led Boston’s minor league system in RBI and ranked second in homers…The 23 year old was named Player of the Week in both the Carolina League (April 8-18) and Eastern League (August 23-29)…Named to both the Carolina League mid-season and post-season All-Star teams…Selected as the eighth pick by the Red Sox (sixth round, 202nd overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Defensive Player of the Year – OF Che-Hsuan Lin, Double-A Portland: Committed just three errors in 338 chances for a .991 fielding percentage over 118 games between right field (four games) and center field (114 games) for Portland as a 21 year old…Hit .275 (126-for-458) with 17 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 34 RBI and 72 walks in 119 games with the Sea Dogs…Signed as an international free agent in 2007.

Base Runner of the Year – OF Jeremy Hazelbaker, Single-A Greenville: Led the Red Sox organization with 63 stolen bases, the most in a season by a Boston farmhand since Gus Burgess stole 68 bases in 1981…The 23-year-old outfielder was caught stealing 17 times for a 78.8 percent success rate…Hit .267 (118-for-442) with 29 doubles, nine triples, 12 home runs, 59 walks and 62 RBI…Named a South Atlantic League post-season All-Star for the 2010 season…Was Boston’s fourth pick (fourth round, 138th overall) in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

Minor League Latin Program Pitcher of the Year – RHP Raul Alcantara, Rookie-Level DSL Red Sox: Was 5-3 with a 3.28 ERA (22 ER/60.1 IP) in 13 starts for the DSL Red Sox…Tied for the team high in wins and ranked second in innings…The 17 year old finished 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA (3 ER/21.0 IP) and 17 strikeouts over his last four starts…Was named to the 2010 DSL All-Star team.

Minor League Latin Program Player of the Year – SS Xander Bogaerts, Rookie-Level DSL Red Sox: Hit .314 (75-for-239) with seven doubles, five triples, three home runs, 42 RBI and 30 walks in 63 games for the DSL Red Sox…Paced the club in batting average, hits, homers, RBI, total bases (101) and slugging (.423)…The 17 year old was named to the 2010 DSL All-Star team.

Posted in Minors, Red Sox, Sox Notes | 2 Comments »

Minors: Drive fall short to BlueClaws in SALLY finals

Posted by Joshua Kummins on September 19, 2010

by Josh Johnson, MiLB.com

The Lakewood BlueClaws completed the South Atlantic League’s version of a triple-double.

After winning the North Division title in both halves of the regular season, Lakewood defeated the Greenville Drive, 4-2, on Saturday to capture its second straight SAL championship.

Sebastian Valle hit a go-ahead three-run homer for the BlueClaws, who became the league’s first repeat champions since Savannah in 1993-94. They also are the first team to win the first- and second-half titles and the championship in the same season.

The best-of-5 Finals mirrored last year’s series, in which Lakewood also beat Greenville in four games. The Class A BlueClaws won the clincher exactly one year ago.

Under the guidance of first-year skipper Mark Parent, Lakewood went 42-28 in the first half and 42-27 in the second. They won five of seven playoff games.

“Like I said at the beginning, I really wasn’t looking forward to [managing] until I saw the kids,” Parent told the Asbury Park Press. “Then to see them do this is unbelievable.”

Valle, the BlueClaws’ backup catcher during last season’s playoff run, took center stage in this year’s quest. Despite hitting just .138, the Phillies catching prospect slugged a league-leading three homers and drove in six runs in seven games.

His three-run blast capped a four-run fifth inning that helped the BlueClaws erase an early 2-0 deficit.

Jonathan Pettibone (2-0) allowed two runs on five hits and a walk over five-plus innings en route to his second postseason win. Josh Zeid entered with no outs and a runner on first in the sixth and fanned six over four perfect frames.

Zeid retired Christian Vazquez on a fly ball to left field to secure Lakewood’s third title since 2006 and set off the celebration at FirstEnergy Park.

“I took extra time between pitches. I walked around the mound a little bit,” Zeid told the newspaper. “I took two big breaths before every pitch. You’ve got to be cool, calm, collected every time. … You don’t want the tying run at bat in a late-game situation in a championship game.

“I owed it to my team. I struggled in the beginning of the year and I finished up strong. This team battled the whole year and I really wanted to finish it for them and win the game and be champions.”

Needing a win to force a decisive fifth game that would have followed this one, the Drive grabbed the lead in the third. Derrik Gibson plated a run with a bases-loaded forceout and Reynaldo Rodriguez made it 2-0 with another RBI grounder.

Greenville starter Drake Britton took a two-hit shutout into the fifth but issued a leadoff walk to Brian Gump and a two-out RBI single to Keoni Ruth. Kendal Volz (0-1) came on to face Jonathan Singleton, who singled. Valle followed with a shot over the left-field fence to put the BlueClaws ahead for good.

“The place blew up when Sebastian hit that home run,” Zeid said.

Posted in Greenville Drive, Minors, Red Sox | 2 Comments »

Minors: ‘Claws speed past Drive in SALLY game two

Posted by Joshua Kummins on September 15, 2010

After a bench-clearing brawl resulted in four ejections, the Lakewood BlueClaws bullpen restored order in Game 2 of the South Atlantic League Finals.

Josh Zeid and Mike McGuire combined on four innings of one-hit relief and Jiwan James supplied the offense Tuesday as Lakewood evened the best-of-5 Championship Series with a 6-1 victory over the Greenville Drive.

The BlueClaws had a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when Reynaldo Rodriguez singled to left field. Trying to score from second base, Derrik Gibson bowled over catcher Sebastian Valle but was thrown out by left fielder Leandro Castro.

After Valle spiked the ball on his way to the dugout, both benches emptied in a wild melee that caused a 13-minute delay at Greenville’s Fluor Field.

“Valle shouldn’t have spiked the ball, but he’s excited. The guy tried to run him over,” Lakewood manager Mark Parent told the Asbury Park Press. “But [Greenville] kept chirping and came after him, and (Julio) Rodriguez stepped in. They’re gamers, they’re ready to go.”

South Atlantic League president Eric Krupa reportedly will review video and the umpire’s reports before determining whether any players will be suspended.

Julio Rodriguez (1-0) was one of two BlueClaws ejected but lasted long enough for the win. He gave up one run on three hits while striking out seven over five innings. Zeid fanned four over three perfect frames and McGuire pitched around a hit in the ninth.

“I was throwing as hard as I could. I was fired up,” Zeid told the newspaper.

James had just one hit in 16 postseason at-bats but went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs.

The former 22nd-round pick led off the game with a double and opened the scoring on a groundout by Jonathan Singleton.

In the fifth, James drove in Jeremy Barnes with a two-out double to give the BlueClaws a 2-0 lead. The converted pitcher added an RBI single in a four-run ninth.

Michael Dabbs chipped in two hits and an RBI and Alan Schoenberger tripled and scored after replacing the ejected Castro.

Jeremy Hazelbaker hit a solo homer for the Drive, who totaled four hits after winning Monday’s series opener, 3-1.

Ryan Pressly (0-1) absorbed the loss after allowing two runs on six hits over five innings. Tom Ebert fanned six but surrendered four runs in 3 2/3 frames out of the bullpen.

Game 3 is Thursday in Lakewood, where Brody Colvin will face Greenville’s Chris Balcom-Miller.

Posted in Greenville Drive, Minors, Red Sox | 1 Comment »

Minors: Drive take game one of SALLY finals

Posted by Joshua Kummins on September 14, 2010

GREENVILLE, SC – Reynaldo Rodriguez continued his late season tear, and the Greenville Drive won Game One of the SAL Championship Series Monday night 3-1.

Rodriguez was named the MVP of the Southern Division Championship after driving in five runs in Greenville’s two game sweep of Savannah. Monday he went 2-for-4 with a solo shot, his second homer of the postseason, and an RBI single to help sink Lakewood.

Starter Drake Britton (2-0) combined with relievers Kendal Volz and Dennis Neuman to limit the Claws to just four hits.

This is the first time the BlueClaws have dropped Game One of a playoff series in franchise history.

Greenville opened the scoring against Lakewood starter Trevor May (1-1) in the third. Zach Gentile hit a leadoff single, and scored on Rodriguez’s single to make it a 1-0 game.

The Drive tacked on a run against reliever Eric Pettis in the sixth when Reymond Fuentes grounded into a fielder’s choice out at first to score a runner from third for a 2-0 edge.

The Claws got back within a run thanks to a seventh inning Leandro Castro solo shot over the Green Monster in left, but the Drive added another tally on Rodriguez’s ninth inning homer and never looked back.

Neuman threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save of the playoffs.

Tuesday at 7:05 pm The BlueClaws will look to avoid a 2-0 hole. RHP Julio Rodriguez (5-1, 1.44) will square off against RHP Ryan Pressly (5-7, 3.72).

Posted in Greenville Drive, Minors, Red Sox | Leave a Comment »

Sox Notes: Local boy Hill called up by Sox

Posted by Joshua Kummins on September 13, 2010

The Red Sox selected the contract of pitcher Rich Hill from Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday, with just 19 days left in the regular season.

A once promising starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Hill went 11-7 with a 3.92 ERA in 2007, but shoulder woes have halted his career in recent years. By joining the Red Sox, Hill is now with the team he grew up watching as a kid. The 30-year-old was born in Boston and graduated from Milton High School.

He went 3-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 19 games (six starts) for the PawSox this season and has pitched just 19 games in the Majors since 2007.

Posted in Minors, PawSox, Red Sox, Sox Notes | 1 Comment »

Drive headed to SALLY Championship Series with 2-0 sweep of Gnats

Posted by Joshua Kummins on September 11, 2010

(Billy Crowe/Drive)

The Greenville Drive are headed to the South Atlantic League Championship Series after a two-game sweep of the Savannah Sand Gnats (NYM). Following Wednesday’s Game 1 playoff action in the Southern and Northern Division Championship Series, it looks like the Drive and Lakewood BlueClaws are on a collision course for a rematch in the South Atlantic League Championship Series. No matter who the Drive would play, they would host the first two games at Fluor Field of the SAL Championship Series. Those games are scheduled for Monday, September 13 and Tuesday, September 14th with first pitch for both games set for 7:05 p.m.

Here is the lone game story, courtesy of the Sand Gnats:

SAVANNAH, Georgia – The Greenville Drive withstood a late Savannah comeback to hang on and beat the Gnats 5-4 Friday night. The Drive swept the best-of-three Divisional Championship Series 2-0 from the Gnats. Friday, in front of a rowdy crowd of 2,515 at Historic Grayson Stadium, the Gnats had the tying run at third in the bottom of the eighth inning and the tying run at second in the ninth, but could not overtake the Drive. With the win, Greenville will go to the SAL Championship Series for the second year in a row.

With the score tied 2-2 after four innings, the Drive took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth against Savannah starter Taylor Whitenton. C Christian Vazquez doubled, was sacrificed to third and came home on a sacrifice fly to center field by LF Shannon Wilkerson. In the sixth inning, Whitenton gave up a leadoff double and then a two-run home run to left field to Drive 1B Reynaldo Rodriguez which made the score 5-2.

The Gnats fought back. In the eighth, 3B Aderlin Rodriguez singled and LF Cody Holliday walked to put two runners on base. C Albert Cordero singled into right center field bringing home Rodriguez to pull Savannah within two runs at 5-3. Holliday then scored on a wild pitch, making the score 5-4, while Cordero, with the tying run, advanced to third with two outs. Gnats 2B Luis Nieves grounded out to end the threat, however.

Down a run, CF Matt den Dekker led off the bottom of the ninth with an infield single. Asked to sacrifice, SS Robbie Shields moved den Dekker to second with the tying run, with a bunt along the first base line. However, 1B Travis Ozga and Aderlin Rodriguez both flew out to shallow left to end the game and the Savannah season.

The Drive scored two runs in the top of the first inning against Whitenton. However, Savannah evened the game with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Rodriguez singled and RF Cesar Puello walked to put two runners on for Holliday, who ripped a doubled into left-center field. Holliday finished the two-game playoff series 5-of-8, with three doubles, a walk, two runs scored and three RBI.

The Gnats bullpen of LHP Josh Edgin and RHP Gabriel Zavala contributed four scoreless innings to give the Gnats’ bats a chance to mount the comeback.

In 2010, the Gnats made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years and won a regular season Half Championship for the first time in 16 years. Savannah’s 75-64 record in the regular season was their best since going 82-55 in 1994.

Posted in Greenville Drive, Minors, Red Sox | 1 Comment »

Thunder sweep Fisher Cats, headed to EL Championship Series

Posted by Joshua Kummins on September 11, 2010

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire – The New Hampshire Fisher Cats second-ever playoff run came to an end Friday in an 8-1 loss to the Trenton Thunder in front of 5,370 at Merchantsauto.com Stadium.  Despite seven strong innings by Scott Richmond and multi-hit games by Darin Mastroianni and Eric Thames, New Hampshire fell to Trenton 3-0 in the best-of-five Eastern Division Championship Series.

Friday marked the first playoff game ever played at Merchantsauto.com Stadium since the 2004 Eastern League Championship was won at Gill Stadium.  

The Fisher Cats snapped a 29.2 inning scoreless streak with two outs in the ninth on a David Cooper RBI single, plating Adeiny Hechavarria, who reached on a double down the right field line.  New Hampshire had been shutout of games one, two and through 8.2 innings of game three. 

Trenton did their damage early on a pair of home runs.  Damon Sublett got the Thunder on the scoreboard with his first hit of the series, a solo-shot over the right-field fence on a 2-2 offering.  Sublett, who had two home runs in all of the regular season, gave the Thunder the 1-0 advantage.  Rene Rivera then hit a two-run blast in the seventh to extend the margin to 3-0.  Rivera’s third home run in as many games this series was a towering shot to right field, and scored Marcos Vechionacci, who reached off a wild pitch on a strikeout.  

New Hampshire pitcher Scott Richmond (0-1) gave the Fisher Cats their third consecutive quality start of the series, but received the loss for his efforts.  Richmond threw seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, while striking out four and walking none.  

The Thunder got to the Fisher Cats bullpen in the top of the eighth to take a 7-0 edge.  Trenton sent 10 men up to bat in the frame, scoring four runs on three hits, two walks and two fielder’s choices, in which the lead runner was called safe both time.  

Jonathan Jaspe shined defensively for the Fisher Cats behind the plate.  The catcher threw out a runner at second base on a bunt attempt in the third, and picked off a runner at second in the sixth on a backdoor play.  

Manny Banuelos (1-0) earned the win for the Thunder, shutting out the Fisher Cats through seven innings.  The southpaw scattered five hits while striking out five and walking three.  The ambidextrous Pat Venditte and Adam Olbrychowski came in as lief for Trenton to secure the victory. 

The lead grew to 8-0 in the ninth on a pair of doubles by Daniel Brewer and Vechionacci.  

New Hampshire had their chances, but were induced into four double plays, and got caught stealing twice to seize any opportunities.  Mastroianni (2 for 4) and Thames (2 for 4) led the charge offensively for the Fisher Cats. 

Edwin Encarnacion, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on August 28 by the Toronto Blue Jays, made his Fisher Cats debut on a rehabilitation assignment, but went 0 for 3 on the night with a walk.  

Trenton will now take on the winner of the Western Division Championship Series between the Altoona Curve and Harrisburg Senators.  The Curve currently hold a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-five series.  The Eastern League Championship will begin on September 14.

Guarantee your ticket to the 2011 Northeast Delta Dental All-Star Game by purchasing 2011 Fisher Cats season tickets.  For ticket information visit www.nhfishercats.com or call (603) 641-2005.

Posted in Eastern League, Minors, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Trenton Thunder | 1 Comment »

Pettitte strong, Rivera wins game for Trenton

Posted by Joshua Kummins on September 10, 2010

In a rehab start, Andy Pettitte led Trenton to a 2-0 series lead over New Hampshire. (Kevin Littlefield/MiLB.com)

by Jed Weisberger, MiLB.com

TRENTON, New Jersey – Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte admitted his Major League rehabilitation start for the Double-A Trenton Thunder in an Eastern League divisional playoff game Thursday night made him think a bit.

“I realize this start was important to me and I certainly needed the work,” the 38-year-old veteran said. “I also knew it was a playoff game for the Thunder and I didn’t want to lose the game for them.

“Naturally, since Trenton is one of our farm teams, I hope they win the Eastern League championship. Winning a championship here is a great thing for the guys to carry over when they get to higher levels.

“I’m glad I pitched well.”

His four two-hit innings helped the Thunder, which took a 2-0 series lead over the Fisher Cats with a 1-0 victory on catcher Rene Rivera’s 12th-inning home run to center field. The game draw a playoff-record crowd of 8,072 to Mercer County Waterfront Park.

The Fisher Cats will host Game 3 at Merchantsauto.com Stadium on Friday, aiming to avoid elimination.

Pettitte, sidelined since July 18 with what has been diagnosed with a “small persistent tear” in his left groin, tossed four scoreless innings — throwing 51 pitches (37 for strikes) and striking out four. He then threw 14 more in the bullpen.

“The plan was for 65 pitches,” he said. “So I finished in the bullpen. I feel real good, but I know I’ll have to deal with some soreness tomorrow. I felt a little short in the first inning, but I got more and more comfortable.

“I really felt the best, and I stepped it up a lot in the fourth inning. I was just glad to get some work, because I have had no work at all. It’s not fun when you’re not contributing to your team. ”

While Pettitte, who was 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 18 starts with the Yankees, felt his effort was “a definite step forward,” he still knows he is not quite ready for a return to the Bronx.

Though satisfied with his overall command, mechanics and ability to pitch in sequence, neither his stamina nor his changeup are where he wants them to be.

“With the setbacks I’ve had with this, I’m doing almost no work with my legs,” he said. “If I pitched for the Yankees next week, I might be able to give them four or five innings.

“As far as my changeup, I pulled a few of them, one of which was a wild pitch. It’s been the toughest pitch for me to come back with. I’ll need it to get Major League hitters out.”

Pettitte, who flew back to Texas on Thursday night to rejoin the team, credited Trenton catcher Austin Romine with a big assist. He feels the Yankees will ask the lefty to make one more rehabilitation start, probably Tuesday.

“I worked with Austin a lot in Spring Training,” said Pettitte. “He was familiar with my pitches and knew the New Hampshire hitters, what they like and what they don’t like.”

Romine was simply happy to work with Pettitte.

“He’s easy to call a game with,” said Romine. “If there was anything special he wanted to work on, I was there for him. That was some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen. Nothing was straight.”

Both New Hampshire’s Zach Stewart and Trenton’s Adam Warren were spectacular. Each struck out 10, with Stewart pitching seven innings and Warren six. “That’s playoff baseball,” said Trenton manager Tony Franklin. “You won’t see many runs scored in games like this.”

Rivera played with the Seattle Mariners from 2004-’06, batting .227 (34-for-150) in 53 games. He was signed by the Yankees on May 21 and batted .319 (30-for-94) with five home runs in 25 games. With Romine serving as the everyday catcher, Rivera has found his niche as the Thunder’s designated hitter. “I just want to get into the game and contribute,” the 27-year-old said.

In other Eastern League action:

Altoona Curve 6, Harrisburg Senators 4

Andrew Lambo doubled twice and had three RBIs and former 10th-round pick Derek Hankins allowed one run over 3 1/3 innings of relief for the win as Altoona evened up its series with Harrisburg. Starter Jeff Locke held the Senators to three runs — one earned — on four hits over 4 2/3 innings before former first-round pick Daniel Moskos pitched the ninth for the save. Box score

Posted in Eastern League, Minors, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Trenton Thunder | 1 Comment »