The Poison Pen
With 3 straight come-from-behind wins here in Durham, the PawSox have climbed 6-games over .500 at 37-31. Their high-water mark this season is 7-games over .500 at 17-10 and 19-12.
They can thank the bullpen – a group I am about to start calling “The Poison Pen,” since the opposing team is usually dead in no time.
Pawtucket’s bullpen has been brilliant in the Durham series tossing 15.1 scoreless innings. The pen is working on an overall streak of 18.2 consecutive scoreless innings. Ironically, the last Pawtucket relief pitcher to surrender a run is Clay Buchholz, who allowed 2 ER in 4 IP in relief of John Smoltz in his last outing. For the season, Pawtucket’s bullpen has a 2.34 ERA (61 ER in 235 IP) and has converted 25 of 29 save opportunities.
Nearly every pitcher in the pen is working on a lengthy streak of scoreless innings.
Jose Vaquedano – 0 ER in his last 8 outings (14.1 IP).
Billy Traber – 0 ER in his last 6 outings (10.1 IP).
Randor Bierd – 0 ER in his last 5 outings (10 IP).
Marcus McBeth – 0 ER in his last 6 outings (9 IP).
Fernando Cabrera – 0 ER in his last 6 outings (6.2 IP).
Javier Lopez – 0 ER in his last 4 outings (3.2 IP).
Hunter Jones – 0 ER in his last outing (2.2 IP).
Rocky Cherry allowed a couple of runs as a spot starter recently, but if you only consider bullpen work, he has not allowed an earned run in his last 16 outings covering 24.1 IP.
No pen is mightier in the International League.
* * * * *
One of my favorite people in the world joined us on “PawSox Insider” this week – former Reds, Pirates, Tigers, and Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey, who retired this year to become an analyst for the MLB Network.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Casey certainly didn’t have to call it quits after hitting .322 for Boston last season, but he decided that 12 years in the big leagues was enough.
“Playing for the Red Sox was one of my coolest experiences and I really feel like I contributed by hitting over .300,” Casey told us on the show. “I felt like I went out on my terms. I had some offers to come back and come off the bench again, but I really felt like it was time. I really enjoyed my career and every second that I put on the uniform, but it was time to move into a new venture.”
We discussed a wide variety of subjects with “The Mayor,” including the early-season struggles of his former teammate David Ortiz.
“Sometimes you just have a couple of months where you stink – that’s the bottom line,” Casey said. “That’s why you play for 6 months and 162 games. It’s a long season and sometimes you can’t get out of a rut. You don’t know what it is and you’ve got 17 people’s opinions in your head and you’re at the box and you just can’t focus. I think that’s what happened with Papi. I think he’s got a lot of baseball left in him – I don’t think he’s over the hill. I think when he starts hitting some rockets and has some big hits for the Red Sox he’s going to be OK. I think the big thing about the Red Sox is that they have so many great players on that team that even though Papi has struggled so badly, they’re still in first place and still beating people up. I think that’s a real credit to Tito and Theo and the team they’ve put together.”
The day after Casey’s comments, Big Papi belted his 5th HR in the last 2 weeks. In his last 14 games, Ortiz is hitting .333 with 5 HR and 9 RBI.
* * * * *
I hope all of you had a wonderful Father’s Day. I certainly did as my wife Peg and 3-year-old son Sam gave me the greatest present possible by making a whirlwind trip to Durham to spend the holiday with me.
Sam gave me a card that included his answers (written down by someone else) to several questions including, “What is your favorite thing that Daddy makes you to eat?”
He answered “A Ham and Cheese Sandwich.”
That’s nice, except that I’ve never made him one.
I guess it was a hint.
* * * * *
What a pitching matchup we have to look forward to on Monday night as Clay Buchholz (5-0, 1.90 ERA) squares off against 2-time American League All-Star Scott Kazmir (on rehab with Durham). Boston has the night off, so I hope you’ll join us to get your baseball fix, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.