What are the odds?
On Tuesday morning I sat next to Bubba Bell on the PawSox flight out of Providence and reminded him that the last time the team played in Norfolk, he hit a huge home run – a 420-foot 10th inning blast that gave Pawtucket a 6-5 win.
“Do you realize that’s the only Triple-A home run I’ve hit,” Bubba responded. “That’s ridiculous.”
(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Bell was apparently so annoyed that he did something about it; drilling a 3-run HR as the PawSox won the opening game of a 4-game series at Harbor Park 6-0.
The home run was his first in 312 at-bats dating back to last season, but I’m confident that it won’t be his only one of the year. Bubba looks great at the plate – he has a 9-game hitting streak, going 12-for-33 (.364) with a HR and 7 RBI. Bell has a hit or walk in 16 straight games, going 19-for-56 (.339) with 6 walks for a .397 OBP.
And he’s not Pawtucket’s only hot hitter.
Aaron Bates has a 10-game hitting streak, going 13-for-37 (.351) with 2 2B, 2 HR, and 4 RBI. Has a hit, walk, or HBP in 34 of his 37 games this season for a .366 OBP.
Jorge Jimenez is batting .462 in his last 11 games (18-for-39) with 2 2B and 3 RBI.
While Pawtucket’s hitting has been much-improved, good pitching has been the key to winning 8 of the last 10 games as the PawSox have posted a 1.70 ERA during that stretch (17 ER in 90 IP).
On Tuesday, Kris Johnson (6 IP), Scott Atchison (1 IP), and Dustin Richardson (2 IP) combined to toss an 8-hit shutout. At one point between the 7th and 9th innings, Atchison and Richardson struck out 8 consecutive batters.
We’ll see if Michael Bowden can keep it rolling when he takes the ball on Wednesday night.
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PawSox manager Torey Lovullo played for seven teams during his 8-year MLB career and that gave him the opportunity to play with some of the game’s all-time greats. I thought it would be fun to throw a few names at him and have Torey say the first thing that comes to mind about each of these former teammates.
Ken Griffey Jr. (Seattle 1994)
“A fun-loving guy who played the game like a little kid – like it was little league. He had so many things pulling at him during the course of the day between Nike commitments and interviews, but when it came time to play a baseball game, he played it like he was 12-years-old.”
Don Mattingly (New York 1991)
“Don Mattingly once told me I made the worst throw across the diamond that he had ever seen. I threw one over his head in Milwaukee about 15 rows into the stands and I figured I would make a joke about it, so when we got in the dugout I asked him why he didn’t even jump for it. He said, ‘Are you kidding me? That’s the worst throw anybody has ever thrown across the diamond at me.’ It’s a nice distinction to have.”
Jack Morris (Detroit 1988-89)
“An intense competitor. He wasn’t afraid to have confrontations with the other team’s manager, or his own teammates because he wanted to win so badly.”
Fred Lynn (Detroit 1988-89)
“One of the all-time most professional people that I’ve ever been around. He had a great perspective about who he was and what it took to go out there on a daily basis and be productive.”
Mark McGwire (Oakland 1996)
“He hit the longest home runs I’ve ever seen hit. He hit one out of the old Tiger Stadium and then in the Metrodome he hit a ball that almost went into the second deck there. If you ever sat in that stadium, it is almost unbelievable how far that ball went.”
Manny Ramirez (Cleveland 1998)
“Fun-loving and giggly. I made a mistake on defense one time and he said to me, ‘You think that was bad? Have you ever seen me play defense!’ “
Curt Schilling (Philadelphia 1999)
“A great teammate and a great professional. Even though he was intense and maybe looked like he was looking down on people, that’s not my perception of Curt Schilling. He was always pulling for every teammate that he had.”
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The PawSox will look to climb to .500 on Wednesday night as they face Norfolk at 7:15.
I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 7:00 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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