Heading into Friday afternoon’s game with Rochester, the PawSox were the hottest team in the International League with six wins in their last seven games.
That was before adding Felix Doubront and Alfredo Aceves to the starting rotation.
The collective groan you just heard was from the rest of the I.L.
Doubront looked sharp in his first start for Pawtucket after being sent down by Boston, allowing just one hit in three scoreless innings on Friday afternoon as the PawSox beat Rochester 3-1.
After missing much of spring training with elbow tightness, Doubront is still building up his pitch count, so Kris Johnson entered in the 4th inning and picked up the win (3 IP, 1 ER), while Scott Atchison (2 IP) and Michael Bowden (1 IP) shut down the Red Wings the rest of the way.
Through 16 games, Pawtucket’s pitching has been exceptional. The team ERA is 2.58 and opposing batters are only hitting .224 (116-for-518). The following PawSox pitchers have ERAs under 2.00:
Scott Atchison 0.73
Michael Bowden 1.74
Felix Doubront 0.00
Brandon Duckworth 0.48
Rich Hill 1.69
Andrew Miller 1.32
Clevelan Santeliz 0.00
And now Alfredo Aceves gets plugged back into the rotation. He was scheduled to be Pawtucket’s opening night starter before being told about 45 minutes before the game that he was being called-up by Boston to replace the injured Matt Albers. Aceves posted a 2.25 ERA in 6 relief outings for the Red Sox before returning to Pawtucket.
While the pitching staff is loaded at the moment, it appears the PawSox will have to do with outfielder Ryan Kalish in the lineup for a few weeks.
Kalish injured his left shoulder while making a diving catch on Thursday. His shoulder is not dislocated, but Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters that Kalish has a “significant shoulder sprain” and will be evaluated again in two weeks.
Matt Sheely is the logical candidate to replace Kalish on the PawSox roster. He is currently on Pawtucket’s disabled list and is already with the team in Rochester.
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The bus ride to Rochester was approximately seven hours long, and I was pleasantly surprised that we made a food stop along the way. Unlike former PawSox manager Ron Johnson who favored frequent food (and bathroom) stops on a trip of that length, Arnie Beyeler prefers to get to the next city ASAP.
“I don’t like to stop, but the guys have to eat so I’m OK with that,” Arnie said. “I don’t like to stop for very long. I’m all about getting the stuff to go and getting back on the road. The sooner we get to the next destination the better.”
That’s one of two key decisions that the manager makes on the long bus rides. The other is what kinds of movies are shown on the video screens. Ron Johnson, for example, did not like comedies so we were forced to watch action flicks and/or westerns during his tenure.
“I let the players pick those. I usually sleep,” Beyeler said. “We got fortunate last year in Portland. We had Direct TV on the bus and we could watch the Red Sox and MLB Network. As long as they keep it fairly clean, they can watch whatever they want.”
The PawSox actually take two buses on their long trips and I was not on Arnie’s bus on the way to Rochester. Pitching coach Rich Sauveur was in charge on bus two, and the movie selections were Secretariat and Jackass.
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The PawSox will look for their third straight win as they face Rochester on Saturday at 1:05. I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 12:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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