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August 31, 2007
PAWTUCKET – Already out of the playoff picture, Pawtucket was playing for pride yesterday, and the opportunity to finish out the season with a .500 record.
In order to finish the season 71-71, the PawSox needed to win their remaining five games.
But the Scranton Wilkes/Barre Yankees didn’t take it easy on the PawSox last night, even though they had already locked up the International League North regular-season title.
Scranton Wilkes/Barre defeated the PawSox, 9-3.
“We made a couple of mistakes, had a few physical breakdowns, and they capitalized on every one,” Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson said. “That’s probably why the won the division and are a playoff bound club. You got to tip your hat to them.”
Pawtucket starter Mike Burns pitched well in four of his 5 1/3 innings outing, striking out six batters, but he gave up four runs on five hits in the momentum-shifting fourth inning and fell to 4-9 on the season with the loss.
“I thought Burns did a pretty good job,” Johnson said. “When you look at it, it wasn’t like there was a lot of bullets hit all over the ballpark, but hey, that’s why that club is where they are. You can’t take anything away from them.”
Facing Kei Igawa, who was a bust (2-3, 6.79 ERA) for the New York Yankees after they bid over $26 million dollars just to talk to him and then signed him to a five-year, 20 million dollar contract on Dec. 27, 2006, George Kottaras ripped a two-out RBI double down the left-field line that scored Jeff Bailey and gave Pawtucket a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.
Kottaras was 2-for-3 last night with two doubles and an RBI. He is hitting .320 (33-for-103) with six home runs, 11 doubles, and 21 RBI in his last 29 games.
“He did a real nice job,” Johnson said of Kottaras. “George has finished up very strong here. He’s done a real nice job. There is a lot of life in his bat and it’s fun to watch him.”
Pawtucket’s lead was short-lived.
Scranton/Wilkes Barre scored four runs with two outs in the top of the fourth inning to take control of the game.
Wil Nieves began the Yankees’ slugfest with an infield RBI single. Mike Kinkade scored from third base on the play and Eric Duncan advanced to second base. Juan Francia drove in Duncan with a single hit to right field and Nieves sprinted to third base on the hit.
Both Francia and Nieves scored when Kevin Thompson blasted a double down the left-field line.
Pawtucket didn’t go away quietly. Bobby Scales, who has at least one hit in nine of his last 10 games, crushed his 11th home run of the season – a two-run bomb sent over the fence in left field – to cut Scranton/Wilkes Barre’s lead to 4-3.
In the top of the fifth, Scales tried to make what would have been an amazing diving catch in shallow right field on a Kinkade blooper, but the ball dropped in and bounced over his head. Instead of a single, Kinkade ended up with a triple.
It appeared that Burns was going to get out of the inning unscathed when he struckout Bronson Sardinha for the second out, and then Alberto Gonzalez hit a routine grounder to second base. But Jed Lowrie misplayed the ball and Kinkade scored on the error to give the Yankees a 5-3 cushion.
Edgar Martinez came on to pitch for Pawtucket in the sixth inning, but he didn’t fare much better. He allowed four runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings.
The Yankees padded their lead in the top of the eighth inning when Jose Cruz, Jr. hit a RBI sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Juan Francia. Then after Doug Mientkiewicz hit a RBI sacrifice fly to right field, Bronson Sardinha hit a bases loaded RBI single to left field, scoring Thompson.
Pawtucket inserted Craig Hansen to stop the bleeding but he couldn’t. Alberto Gonzalez belted a ground-rule double down the right field line that scored Cruz and Kinkade and extended Scranton Wilkes/Barre’s lead to 9-3.
Igawa pitched seven innings and limited Pawtucket to just three runs on five hits with nine strikeouts. Of his 101 pitches, 71 of them were strikes.
“Igawa threw the ball really well,” Johnson said. “We only got five hits on the night. We got the most of it though. We got three runs on five hits.”
NOTE: The PawSox will play a double-header today with the first game beginning at 12:30 p.m. and the second at 6:05 p.m. Fans will not be allowed to enter McCoy Stadium until 4:45 for the nightcap instead of the normal two hours prior to game time. The gates will open at 10:30 a.m. for the 12:30 p.m. first game.
Posted by Chris Venditto at 10:51 PM to PawSox