When the PawSox arrived at McCoy Stadium in darkness for a 4:30 am bus to the airport on Saturday morning, Joe Nelson was ready and waiting . . . in a chicken suit.
The 35-year-old veteran put on the full costume and hid before jumping out and shocking his sleepy teammates. The “chicken man” provided an early morning jolt – and laugh – that even the strongest cup of coffee could never administer.
Unfortunately, an even bigger shock was still to come.
Pawtucket dropped the opening game of its 8-game road trip on Saturday when Fernando Cabrera blew a 2-run lead in the bottom of the 9th inning in a 7-6 loss to the Gwinnett Braves. After retiring the first batter he faced, Cabrera allowed four straight singles followed by a pair of walks to give the Braves a dramatic win.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
It was the second blown save in four days for Cabrera who is off to a rocky start in 2010. After posting a 1.71 ERA and going 22-for-22 in save chances last season, Fernando is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his first 10 outings this year. He has already allowed 9 earned runs after giving up 10 ER all of last season with Pawtucket.
The loss was especially painful because the PawSox had the lead all night after getting off to the following start:
Josh Reddick tripled.
Daniel Nava doubled to make it 1-0.
Angel Sanchez singled.
Tug Hulett tripled to make it 3-0.
Aaron Bates walked.
Lars Anderson singled to make it 4-0.
Six straight batters reached base before Jorge Jimenez was retired for the game’s first out. Jorge made up for that with a 2-run single in the 6th inning that gave Pawtucket a 6-3 lead.
Unfortunately, the PawSox simply do not score after the 6th inning. Of their 101 runs this season, only 7 have come from the 7th inning on.
Before Cabrera’s rough inning, Joe Nelson had a terrific outing as he pitched 1.2 hitless and scoreless innings with 3 strikeouts and Joe has not allowed an earned run in his last seven appearances.
He did not enter any of those games wearing the chicken suit.
But rumor has it that the suit made the trip to Georgia. It’s possible that a certain highly-touted prospect that recently made his Triple-A debut could be forced to wear it at some point on his first Pawtucket road trip.
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The PawSox added an infielder on Saturday as Boston acquired 25-year-old Niuman Romero from the Cleveland Indians for cash. Romero played for Torey Lovullo in Columbus last year before earning a September promotion to Cleveland where he batted .143 (2-for-14) in 10 games.
According to Lovullo, Romero is an excellent defensive shortstop who is versatile enough to play any infield position. He gives Pawtucket infield depth after Kevin Frandsen was claimed on waivers by the Los Angeles Angels.
To make room for Niuman on the PawSox roster, outfielder Matt Sheely was sent to Double-A Portland.
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I sat next to Torey Lovullo on a flight from Boston to Philadelphia on Saturday and learned a tremendous tidbit about him.
The PawSox manager was in the crowd at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on November 6, 1993 when the “Fan Man” tried to land in the ring in the middle of a heavyweight championship fight between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe (you can see the video here).
Torey says he and a buddy were sitting about 15 rows from the ring when his friend pointed out the “Fan Man” while he was still high in the air. But they didn’t realize his goal was to land in the ring, and they forgot about him until the “Fan Man” crashed into the ropes.
Fox Sports Net ranked it as the #1 “Most Outrageous Sports Moment”.
And Torey Lovullo was there.
I told him that it tops my Tiger Woods story.
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The PawSox will look to bounce back from Saturday’s loss as they face the Braves on Sunday afternoon at 2:05. I hope you’ll join me for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 1:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
I’m going solo in this series as Steve Hyder is being recognized as the co-Sportscaster of the Year in the state of Rhode Island along with my Cox Sports colleague Steve McDonald. Congrats to two great friends and broadcasters!
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