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July 30, 2007
PawSox 3, Clippers 1
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- While hot dogs were selling for a dime a pop at Cooper Stadium last night, runs certainly went at a premium price.
So the story has went for the PawSox of late. Pawtucket had went a week straight without scoring more than four runs and had struggled against Columbus all season.
You could sense the PawSox starting to snap out of their funk Sunday and last night Pawtucket did just enough to snag a 3-1 win from the Clippers.
"The total game ‹ from pitching to defense to the timely hitting to the fundamental stuff -- I was really impressed with this team," said Pawtucket skipper Ron Johnson.
The victory also helped the PawSox end a five-game losing skid to Columbus, which already clinched the season series heading into tonight¹s finale.
Pawtucket hopes to get the split in this four-game set via the back door by sending the rehabbing Curt Schilling to the bump.
Mike Burns (3-7), a late replacement for original starter Devern Hansack (stiff neck), was nearly untouchable in six innings of work. The right-hander gave up just four hits and a run while fanning four in his second straight quality start.
George Kottaras' three-run home run was all that Burns needed, and the PawSox bullpen, which allowed eight runs in four innings Sunday, got the job done despite some hairy moments.
"The season is winding down and we feel like we have a team that can make a push (for the playoffs)," Burns said. "But every time it seems like we get on a roll, we let two, three or even four things get away from us. It was a big win." Pawtucket entered the game hitting a meager .205 against Columbus in the first six games of 2007. The PawSox, which entered the day ranked next-to-last in the International League in batting, were worse with runners in scoring position (2-for-21 in this series) and abandoned 15 runners in Sunday¹s 10-6 loss.
Pawtucket took advantage of Columbus starter Chris Michalak's second-inning yips. The left-hander (3-5) hit two batters in the inning -- Michael Tucker and Bobby Scales -- around a pair of outs.
Kottaras, symbolic of the PawSox's woes with ducks on the pond, put a charge into a 2-1 fastball from the former Cincinnati Red, turning it into the game-winning blast over the right-field fence.
Kottaras was hitting just .147 with runners in scoring position, but extended his hit streak to five games with the bomb.
"The mission is to try to score as many runs as you can and take advantage of your opportunities," said Kottaras, who now has six homers on the year.
Since replacing Kason Gabbard in the rotation, Burns has a 3.55 earned-run average in seven starts and has allowed just three runs in his last 12 2/3 innings.
His only blemish came in the fourth when, after retiring nine in a row, allowed a solo home run from Michael Restovich. It was Restovich¹s second shot in as many nights.
Burns' teammates saved another run in the sixth. With two down, Kory Casto walked and Restovich looked like he was going to play the role of spoiler when he sent a gapper to center. David Murphy tracked the ball down, sent a perfect relay to Alex Prieto, and his strike to Kottaras was in plenty of time to nail Casto.
"They made a heckuva play," Burns said.
Then in the eighth, reliever Craig Hansen allowed a bunt single to Brandon Watson and a slicing double to left by Clipper killer Bernie Castro. In a pickle, Hansen rared back and threw gas by both Casto and Restovich to thwart the rally.
Closer Travis Hughes also gave Johnson some nail-biting moments in the ninth, allowing two straight hits to open the frame, and wild pitched the runners into scoring position with one down. But Hughes mowed down the final two batters to pick up his 14th save.
Pawtucket relievers recorded the final eight outs by strikeout.
"(Sunday) we played five innings and then we caved," Johnson said. "Today, we played nine innings, and that's what you need when you play a team like this." Prieto had two hits, including a double, for the PawSox, who despite having just five hits on the night went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
The win guaranteed Pawtucket its second consecutive winning month (15-12) with just today¹s game left.
And when all was said and done, the PawSox were eating steak and the Clippers were left to their weiners.
--DONN WALDEN, Special to the Journal
Posted by Chris Venditto at 10:37 PM to PawSox
Baseball Today: Monday, July 30
AP photo/Steve Nesius
First of all, a note: There will be no projo SoxTalk today, but Sean McAdam will resume our regular audio feature tomorrow at noon.
ROADBLOCK: Scott Kazmir showed us once again what he is made of, Manny Delcarmen reminded Red Sox fans of why insurance would be nice to get in the bullpen, and the Red Sox failed to complete a three-game sweep at Tampa Bay. Nevertheless, Boston did what it needed to do this weekend at Tropicana Field, thanks to the team's 12-inning win on Saturday night. As for the Red Sox' bullpen situation, we'll have to keep a close eye on the health of Mike Timlin, who has not been used since running his scoreless innings streak to 16 early last week in Cleveland. The team is said to still be interested in obtaining the services of a power right-handed arm, such as Octavio Dotel or Eric Gagne (Globe).
GOOD ARM: Devil Rays reliever Al Reyes, who looked impressive on Saturday, could be a trade target. The Seattle Mariners reportedly are interested (Seattle Times).
BRONX ZOO: The Yankees won yesterday to prevent a three-game sweep in Baltimore (we won't count the victory Friday night in the conclusion to the suspended game, which actually counts toward New York's June record), but the talk New York today is about Kyle Farnsworth's snub of Jorge Posada, (NY Post) which came after Farnsworth had surrendered a two-run homer in the eighth. Farnsworth, whom you figure the Yanks would love to move, complained after the game about not being used very much. Not surprisingly, the Yanks are also in the Gagne sweepstakes.
THEY HAVE HIS BACK: Joe Torre and Johnny Damon responded, predictably, to Jose Canseco's threatening call-out of Alex Rodriguez (N.Y. Daily News). Damon also says Jason Giambi is ready to play (Post).
WHO'S THE BOSS? The business Web site Florida Trend gets up close and personal with George Steinbrenner in this Q and A.
A DAY AT THE HALL: It was a good day in Cooperstown, because class acts Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn were welcomed into the Hall of Fame (Washington Post). It was a bad day in Cooperstown, because Bud Selig was pondering what punishment Gary Sheffield deserves after Sheff called the commissioner a liar and a grandstander in regards to steroids (NY Daily News).
GET RID OF IT: Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin writes today about why the Veterans Committee should be abolished.
STAY CLOSE TO HOME: And speaking (we were earlier) of steroids, Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci explains why it would be a disaster for Barry Bonds to hit number 756 outside of San Francisco.
MARK TEIXEIRA: The streaking Arizona Diamondbacks have reportedly thrown themselves into the bidding for Texas' star first baseman (Dallas Morning News). But Ken Rosenthal still gives the edge to the Braves and the Angels (Fox Sports).
ADIEU, ALOUS: As Moises Alou nears retirement, baseball's greatest family dynasty appears to be near the end (NY Daily News).
REMEMBER ME: Jermaine Dye homered in what might end up being his last White Sox home game (Chicago Sun Times).
HOMETOWN CHEERLEADER: L.A. Times columnist Paul Oberjuerge thinks Mike Scioscia is the best manager in baseball.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 8:08 AM to Projo Sox Crawl